Like, OhMyGod, like, the San Jose Sharksare coming to town tonight. They are possibly the most consistent team in the NHL. The consistently do well in the regular season, and consistently crash and burn during the playoffs.
I talked yesterday about why this is an important game. So today, I want to focus on what it will take to get the W.
- Penalty kill: San Josehas the 6th best powerplay, but has gone 0-6 in the last two games. Let’s not give them many chances to get on track.
- Game flow: The Sharks lead the league in shots, and we’re in second place. Both teams are also in the top 7 in shots against. Both teams are used to playing the game at their pace, constantly counter-attacking. The Flyers need to make sure they don’t give the puck away easily, and keep it in the other end as much as possible.
- Neautral zone: This is related to game flow. I think whoever controls this area tonight will come away with the win. Both teams have enough speed to recover if there’s a giveaway in the offensive end. But if the Flyers can generate more turnovers closer to the Sharks end of the ice, then San Jose won’t be able to backcheck as quickly.
- Niemi/Niittymaki: We know that Niemi sucks. Just get a ton of shots and a few will go in. No big deal. Nity is more talented, but if we can get a goal early, shake his confidence a bit, we’ll be ok. After a strong start, he’s got one win in his last four games. Neither guy has taken hold of the starting job, and neither has started more than 3 games in a row. This is one of the weaker points of this team, and something we have to exploit.
- Loose change: The rest is regular fundamentals. Forecheck hard, dig the puck out of corners, solid defense, etc. San Jose comes to play almost every night, and it will take a solid effort to beat them. If we lose, I want to go down knowing we played well, and that they played better. I don’t want to talk about a lazy effort. That works against lesser teams, but won’t work against the Sharks.
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