Tonight is Game 4 between the Sharks and Flames with Calgary carrying huge momentum from their game 3 comeback win/Sharks meltdown, depending on how you view the situation.
It doesn't matter whether the hit by Sarich on Marleau was clean or not. (I think it honestly was a clean hit) The Sharks never responded, and let Calgary fight their way for a victory. Complaining about an elbow doesn't make the hit disappear. It was huge, it rocked the Saddledome, and scared the Sharks.
For a lifelong fan of the Sharks like myself, you cannot help but have nightmares and de ja vu of the situation from game 3. The Sharks are winning, but then a huge hit or cheapshot, legal or illegal, or a mental draining play comes along and ruins the Sharks' and their fans Stanley Cup dreams. In 2004, it was Chris Simon on Mike Rathje. In 2005, it was Raffi Torres on Milan Michalek. In 2006, Scott Hannan fails to clear the puck, the Detroit defense shoots and scores to force OT, and the Sharks end up losing the game, and never recovered.
16 years of never even making it to the Stanley Cup Finals begins to take its toll on the mental attitude and positive feelings of Sharks fans.
Will this time make it 17 seasons?
No. No $#@%*@# way!
I have invested my life and soul into this team, this year even more than before. Sure, game 3 stung to the bone, stung every part of my body and soul. But this team, I believe is different than year's past.
I expect this team to bounce back tonight, to come out flying again and not let off the gas pedal. The Sharks need to send a message, and they need to absolutely bury Calgary in front of their sea of red. They need to deflate the optimistic feeling in Calgary of an upset, and then return home to a racuous Shark Tank to take the series lead.
The Sharks should have buried the Flames in game 3, but got too lazy. I expect to see the veterans on the team yelling and screaming in everyone's faces to keep the intensity up.
If game 3 was the one game in the playoffs that the Sharks pull that crap, well fine, get it out of the way, but take care of Calgary now.
There are way too many good players on the Sharks to suffer a first round defeat.
Oh sure, there is another game to be played after tonight, but tonight's winner will be the winner in game 5 as well. They had a game 6 last year against Detroit at home with a chance to tie things up and that night the Sharks had already made tee times, and were shut out at home.
Either the Sharks forget about Sunday, beat Calgary, and fight back; or San Jose will come out the way Sunday ended and Calgary will cruise to a victory, and an almost sure playoff round victory.
It is all about mental toughness, and tonight is the test for the Sharks. The Sharks should treat tonight like there is no tomorrow because there is a chance there might not be a tomorrow.
Here is what the Sharks need to do tonight to get that important momentum, bring Calgary back down to Earth, and force a return to the Saddledome for game 6.
The important players need to play like important players.
Hey, Michalek, Cheechoo, Thornton, Campbell, and Rivet, we really could use you guys to look in the mirror and remember who you are. And how you play because there is a possible crisis about to go down.
Come out fast, and don't let up til you know the way to San Jose.
The Sharks came out ridiculous in game 3, scoring 3 goals in the first 4 minutes. I was completely jacked up. Until the very next shift after the Sharks went up 3-0.
Then I noticed a complete change in the body language in all players on the Sharks. The intensity instantly dissapeared, and the Sharks went into bored, cruising play.
The Sharks should have kept pouring it on, but didn't and then came those two huge hits on Marleau. The Sharks never seemed to kick it back into gear, and got burned.
Fight back, play with a controlled recklessness
I do not care what Ron Wilson has said, but discipline will not win you the Stanley Cup. After that hit on Marleau, all he could care about was complaining about an elbow.
It doesn't matter if there was or not, that hit ignited the Flames, and the Sharks should have responded with Shelley, Clowe, Thornton, Rivet, and Murray on the ice.
Tonight, the Sharks should use Shelley is his role because having him skate around and chirp at people is not going to do any good. The need to hit any player in red who barely taps the puck. Hit the Flames so hard you feel like you're going to crash into row 4 of the seats.
The defense needs to control the puck better, and have smoother breakout passes.
This starts with everyone skating their asses off. I do not want to see any Sharks standing around. I will keep saying it til I see it, but speed creates space, space creates opportunities, and opportunities lead to goals.
The Sharks were flying in the first 4 minutes of game 3. Perhaps instead of only 4 minutes, do that for 60? Yeah, I think that would be a good idea.
Ron Wilson needs to coach smart.
Why was there no timeout after Calgary brought it within 1 or tied it or went ahead?
Why was there no reaction to the hits on Marleau, other than the little Clowe scrum?
Why was Shelley not out there more often?
Coaching. Ron Wilson coached like a moron in game 3. I do not sugarcoat anything. I will always be honest, sometimes it might be harsh, but seriously his coaching led to the loss in game 3, and more of a desire from Calgary.
I kept my mouth shut during the long win streak because I didn't want to sound negative, but after Sunday, Ron still has terrible flaws. He has to do a better job coaching during the game. Don't complain about hits, go right back out and send a message.
Hey Ron, is the cake ready yet?
Thornton needs to change up his game.
I love Joe Thornton, and he is a great player. But he is way too predictable, and his game of slowing things down, setting up on the right hash marks, and trying to feed the puck out front simply will not work in the playoffs.
He needs to constantly be moving, creating space for himself, and creating scoring chances. The Sharks need to have Thornton play his biggest game of his career tonight.
Calgary is going to come out tough tonight. They are feeling good about their chances now. They have shown they want it more than the Sharks. Calgary is playing with passion, fire, desire, determination, and heart.
I want to see the team from the Dallas game at the end of the season. I want fire, I want intensity, but most of all....
I WANT HEART!
I wish I had the opportunity to play for the Sharks, especially after that Sarich hit. I would have been running him all night, letting him know that going for our captain will not fly. The Sharks need to play with heart tonight, and if they end up performing an illegal hit or play, big deal.
It clearly has worked against the Sharks, maybe a huge hit will work in our favor.
I have a Sharks necklace I wear everyday, because I am damn proud to be a die-hard fan of the Sharks. I have too much memoriabilia to count. I cheer the team out of Buffalo, NY. I follow the Sharks the way any Canadian follows his/her respective team. They have heart and love their teams. Look at Calgary, they have great fans for sure.
I have heart. I love this team. I want the Sharks to win the Stanley Cup more than anything in my life.
The Sharks need to show the same heart that I and most Sharks' fans have with this team.
They need to be proud of who they are, and who they play for, and who they play in front of. Calgary sure as hell played with heart Sunday.
If the above are not done, San Jose may lose, and definitly will lose all momentum into game 5, and many Sharks fans will be thinking how could it happen again?
It is go time, and the Sharks face their ultimate test tonight.
I believe this year is different. I believe this team has what it takes to get over Sunday, and play Sharks hockey. I believe the Sharks can crush Calgary at home in the sea of red. I believe the Sharks can play hockey for a full 60 minutes.
I believe in this team.