Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sharks Gameday: These Guys Again?

As if seeing the Dallas Stars eight times already wasn't bad enough, we're in for at least another four, potentially another seven. Yup, that means that when it's all said and done, the Sharks and Stars may have played each other 15 times -- about half of those with Brian Campbell and Brad Richards in the lineup (including playoffs), and half without.

For what it's worth, the visiting team won the majority of the time during the season series, but that doesn't mean too much right now.

I haven't seen too much of the Stars lately because a lot of the start times interfered with Sharks games, but I did chat with Earl Sleek about the Ducks/Stars series. For what it's worth, Sleek thought the Sharks had the tools to do what Anaheim didn't: generate speed through the neutral zone and break past Dallas' defense with waves of speedy forwards.

Now, this begs the question: did Dallas play awesome in defeating Anaheim or did Anaheim play crappy in totally collapsing to Dallas? Chicken or the egg, but I think it's key when presenting initial analysis of the series. The other question is whether or not Anaheim's play was a factor in making Stephane Robidas look awesome or if Robidas found another gear for the first time in his career.

It sounds like Sergei Zubov will be back soon, and that will give a boost to the depleted Dallas blueline, though Philippe Boucher will be out for a while. Even if Zubov returns, the good news is that he won't be in game shape for a while. I mean, you don't just recover from sports hernia surgery and have your skating legs. Zubov's game is based on crisp passing, skating, and smart passing, but if your legs won't work in conjunction with the rest of your body, your timing will be off. If and when Zubov plays, the smartest tactic will be to use Calgary's strategy of dump the puck in and use the forechecker to punish Zubov rather than trying to retrieve the puck.

If you look at comparisons between the teams in terms of stats, you'll see a mirror image. Both teams have had secondary scoring step up at key teams and both have had pretty good output from star players. The critical thing right now is for San Jose's penalty kill to resolve whatever head-up-its-ass situation it was having and go back to being the #1 PK unit in the league because the Dallas power play is so hot right now.

Well, no one said it was going to be easy. Kudos to Dallas for playing well after such an awful finish to the season, but hopefully they'll revert back to their March form starting tonight. Go Sharks.

Shameless plug time: if you're a newer Sharks fan, you may not remember the Sharks/Stars battles of yesteryear, so here's my primer on FoxSports to catch up.

14 comments:

Earl Sleek said...

Now, this begs the question: did Dallas play awesome in defeating Anaheim or did Anaheim play crappy in totally collapsing to Dallas?

Some of each, I'd say. Still, I think the Sharks can execute some of the basic things that the Ducks could not: generate shots on net, stay out of the penalty box, and come back from a deficit.

It's a bit odd: the NHL upped its divisional games to enhance these rivalries, and yet whenever two division teams meet in the playoffs, all it's created is a sense of "Jeez, you again?" The Ducks had it, too--14 games against the Dallas Stars really seems to make the rivalry stale, not epic.

Ted said...

It would be nice to dump and hit Zubov, but Turco is like having another puck moving D out there. I felt the Sharks tried way too many dumps in a previous Stars game, where Turco was just eating them up. They may need to carry the puck in more.

Cheechew said...

I am sick of playing 8 games versus divisonal opponents. At least next year it will be down to 6 games. (Even though I still think that is too many).

We need to use our size advantage and cycle the pucks in the corners.

brokeyard said...

Like in the NFL... you meet your divisional rivals twice a year. You get one shot at home and one shot away to prove yourselves to your rivals and if you fail, better luck next year.

Sqb. said...

There's a poster on the Sharks board who's pointed out something strange: Thornton tends to do very badly after he's had more than one day off. Sharks have had what, 3?

Ahhh..pessimism. It's like a cool breeze through my hair.

Mike said...

Ted, true that. One of the reasons I despise the Stars. Turco plays every puck like a champ, and if you skate within 10 feet of him, he flops like an epileptic soccer player.

And Cheechew, I'm with you. The Sharks' low cycle is great. Their high cycle blows goats.

Patty (in Dallas) said...

The other question is whether or not Anaheim's play was a factor in making Stephane Robidas look awesome or if Robidas found another gear for the first time in his career.

He found his new gear way back in the middle of the season, when Zubov went down. Career highs in goals, assists, and points.


...#1 PK unit in the league...

For one day. Just happened to be the last one. :D

Earl Sleek said...

For one day. Just happened to be the last one. :D

It's the day that mattered, I guess. It's like a race car driver saying, "Well, I led up until that last lap."

andrew said...

14 games against the Dallas Stars really seems to make the rivalry stale, not epic.

Earl? Is that you?

But you've always championed the division heavy schedule! Was this year just a bit too much? I know that by the 8th time I saw the Stars, I was sick of 'em. Ott will do that to a person though....he obviously drove Joe to distraction.

And by "distraction" I mean "repeated blows to the head."

Earl Sleek said...

But you've always championed the division heavy schedule!

Well, my main issue was always that I didn't care for east vs. west games, as it's teams that don't battle each other on the same standings board.

And really, I don't mind the division heavy schedule on the whole--the Pacific's got a great mix of teams, most of which are top-notch.

But overkill's bound to happen at some point, I guess. Maybe it's just that we went five years between Pacific playoff series, and now all of a sudden there's been two in a row.

brokeyard said...

Earl did say recently that it's the fact that they don't meet in the playoffs much that makes meeting in the playoffs exciting, so like he says, when it happens consecutive years, it could become "meh".

andrew said...

Well, my main issue was always that I didn't care for east vs. west games, as it's teams that don't battle each other on the same standings board.

Very true, I had forgotten that that was your main (and I think still legitimate) beef.

Either way, I'm liking the way the schedule is set up for next season. We'll see how it shakes out.

Until then, go Sharks.

Earl Sleek said...

Either way, I'm liking the way the schedule is set up for next season.

Yeah, I'm not that against it myself. At least I'll have to watch it for a season before I decide how I feel about it.

Patty (in Dallas) said...

It's the day that mattered, I guess. It's like a race car driver saying, "Well, I led up until that last lap."


Touche.

But it's also kind of like saying, "I won the race after I ran the leader into the wall."