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Grypho

Reasons why Wings are down 0-2

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I wasn't going to post this here on LGW, at first, but I have since changed my mind, as I do want to talk about it with Wings fans.

Prior to last night's game, I predicted (at LGS) exactly what I thought would happen in Game 1, along with a theory about exactly why I thought it would happen, pretty much the way it did. NOT the outcome. NOT the final score. In a nutshell, I said basically that the extended layover between series might have seriously damaged the Wings, just as I believe a similar layover seriously damaged the Sharks last year, as it waited to play Chicago. And I want to know what you think about it.

The original thread is here (at LGS), but I've copied the OP below. Please remember I was writing this primarily to Sharks fans, and that this was written long before the game started:

I'm reading all over the internet what appears to me as a lot of the usual playoff blah-blah-blah, with most of the media pundits writing off the Sharks (albeit mostly in 7 games) while all but ignoring what I consider to be a phenomena of enormous effect.

They call it the "rust factor", and everyone knows that to "dispute it", Detroit must come on strong, and do everything it can to steal Game 1 on the road. Maybe it can, maybe it can't. But I have some definite thoughts on this. It's something I don't see discussed in any detail (that I can find), and I find that surprising, given what is at stake.

Rewind to last year.

It was April 29, 2010, exactly one year ago today, that the Sharks began their Western Conference Semifinal series against the Wings. We had beaten the Avs in 6, while the Wings were coming off of a grueling game 7 series with the Coyotes.

2010 CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS - SAN JOSE VS. DETROIT

Game 1: April 29

Sharks rest time: 5 days (last game played: Apr 24)

Wings rest time: 2 days (last game played: Apr 27)

Advantage Sharks? The Sharks were definitely the more rested team, but not so much rest for too much rust (read=loss of real-world playoff intensity, WHICH CAN NOT BE IMITATED IN PRACTICES) to set in. The Sharks would go on to eliminate the Wings in 5, but they were close games, with victory for the Sharks well served by the number of penalties taken by Detroit. Yeah, I know - diverguchi, refs in our pockets, yada yada..., this fanboy homer doesn't give a crap about any Deus Ex Machina talk, even when it happens in reverse. The point is that the series could have gone on longer, and could even have gone the other way.

After the Wings were eliminated, the Sharks went onto a LONG rest period - eight days, to be exact.

2010 CONFERENCE FINALS - SAN JOSE VS. CHICAGO

Game 1: May 16

Sharks rest time: 8 days (last game May 8)

Hawks rest time: 5 days (last game May 11)

You know the rest of the story, as the Hawks went on to sweep the Sharks, 4-0. And the Hawks, who went on to win the Cup, made it look easy. The Sharks looked like zombies - the proverbial children from which candy could be easily taken.

I remember a lot of Sharks fans I talked to last year were feeling SO good, so confident about the fact that we had three more days of rest than the Hawks. I HATED THAT. I DREADED THAT FACT.

In the aftermath of the Sharks' defeat, I went on to read and hear the usual blah-blah-blah. The Sharks could have done this or that, so-and-so was invisible, etc., -- and I was sitting there, the whole time, feeling deep inside that the Sharks' defeat was NOT the Sharks fault. So. Is that because I am a homer fan? My darling children can do no wrong, and need not take responsibility for what went wrong? I don't think so. At least, in my case, there is a rationale for it.

It is my contention, my theory, that two days is enough to get any team back to 70-90% of its capacity, and that three days is a perfect amount of time for any (uninjured) team to rest, recoup, or otherwise recharge to something close to 100%. Just like a battery recharging. A fourth day adds very little, if any, to that. Five is pushing the envelope, in my opinion, and is somewhat akin to oversleeping, which can actually cause toxins to build in your system, which can make you more tired.

After five days off, a team is in very real danger of losing its playoff intensity (gaining rust) - a loss that rises exponentially with each additional passing day. And I am not referring to physical stamina. Regular practices can keep the bodies up to par physically, but that is not the same thing as "playoff intensity" - that stressed, amped up, hyper-adrenal mental survival state that a human body undergoes in survival conditions, which can only be achieved by players and teams who experience this kind of stress in real time, both mentally and physically, in real playoff mode. It is that state of mind that allows a human being's brain, warriors, fighters, predators and prey of all kinds to react and process things so fast mentally, that everything else appears to happen in slow motion.

Losing playoff intensity after a prolonged period of rest is absolutely unavoidable, and has nothing whatsoever to do with a team or player's resolve. The human body, including the brain, is not designed to deal with prolonged stresses without a cost, so the body will avoid it where possible. Like adrenalin, which amplifies your physical capacity, this mode is available in shorter bursts, and only as much as needed. Likewise the body, at some point after such stresses are removed, and the pressure is taken off for any prolonged period of time, will go into a different kind of longer term recuperative mode. This is way different from just "sleep" - your body is in this mode during the waking hours as well - and a side-effect of this is a real-time sluggishness, like walking around with a mild tranquilizer in your system, 24-7.

Fast forward to today. It looks to many like a repeat of history, as we meet the same team, on the same day, with the same stakes, one year later. But this time the Sharks are in Chicago's WCF shoes, and the Wings are in the Sharks' when they faced Chicago. Worse for the Wings, even, by one day, and better for the Sharks by one day.

2011 SEMIFINALS - SAN JOSE VS. DETROIT

Game 1: April 29

Sharks rest time: 4 days (last game played: Apr 25)

Wings rest time: 9 days (last game played: Apr 20)

Remember what I said about 3 and 4 days being optimum numbers? I believe that. There is such a thing as "too much of a good thing", to the point where it can destroy your chances. I don't want to directly predict the outcome of this series. Instead, I will say that if, hypothetically, the Sharks had swept their opponent in the first round, and had to wait NINE DAYS before facing the Wings, with the Wings having had four days to rest - I would be FILLED with a feeling of real dread for my team, just like I was last year before we faced Chicago - like the Sharks were about to get swept, and easily - all their many skills, and sheer wills combined, notwithstanding. And with no fault to the Sharks.

We shall see. It will interesting. If there is any merit to what I wrote, and I have reason to believe there is, I expect the entire Wings team to look at least somewhat sedated when compared to the Sharks - or, at the very least, they will be like hundred-yard-dashers at the beginning of a marathon, who will not have the stamina to keep that pace for the distance required. AND WITH NO FAULT TO THE WINGS.

Thoughts?

Now, here are some quickly skimmed quotes (a very tiny sample from the LGW Game 1 GDT). Note the descriptions, and choices of words:

...our break out has been lethargic. We are taking a VERY cautious approach when leaving our zone. We don't need guys to cherry pick, but we need more speed out of our zone as you just said.

They forechecked the hell out of us for most of the period, and we didn't respond.

Flip has been fine. Mule has been terrible and has looked rusty. The Wings don't seem to have their skating legs back.

Wings need to get going. The way they are playing now it's like they want SJ to score to go into OT.

Detroit's rust from the break is showing, everybody looks slow out there.

We can't be blaming the refs on this 1...We haven't found our legs except for a few spurts here and there...We need to wake the hell up and start skating, and we need to learn to get the puck out quicker

we had no legs all night, some bad calls but we just got out worked for pretty much 60+ minutes.

This is the best we could come up with after 10 days of getting ready for the next round. looked like we were skating on water out there. I realize this was a one goal loss but so was every game last year. So much for them being tired and us being fresh.

I'm extremely worried about this series (tipped SJ in 7) but I think a lot can be put down to rust tonight, I mean even Helm looked a bit sluggish. Cleary looked awful, Bert, Abby, Franzen, most of our line-up looked slow and couldn't skate with any real purpose.

IF we're as sluggish in Game 2, then I'll be thinking Sharks in 5.

I agree 100% we looked sluggish. But I can't help but think the 8 day layoff had something to do with that. Assuming we come out and play in Game 2 like we played the entire series against Pheonix, would you still be as worried and still lean towards Sharks in 7.

Yea, agreed. They were definitely sluggish tonight

...just because they arent burning out 110% doesn't mean they are lazy. also sometimes its not a reflection on poor play, sometimes its the other team going 110% and making us look slow.

I think we need to wait until Game 2, I just think the layover killed us IMHO

I thought they were going to put on a much better showing, honestly, especially as the game wore on and they got their legs back. But the opposite happened

Shake the rust off and answer. Off to Sunday we go.

In short, this is exactly what I expected to see, should there be anything to what I thought.

I went back and watched the Sharks' Game 1 against Chicago last year, as well as the rest of the games, and saw basically the same kind of less-than-par play from the Sharks, relative to Chicago. We just couldn't keep up with them, except in small, contained, limited spurts.

BIG QUESTION

Will the Wings have worked their rust out, and gotten their legs, their sustained playoff intensity, back by Sunday?

I don't think so. I seriously doubt it, in fact. Not without a team-load of adrenalin shots, or a few cases of Red Bull or something. I don't think that's something you can "shake off", or ramp back up in two days.

I am not saying any of this as a naysayer, a Sharks fan, or to be negative in any way. Nor does it mean that I believe that the Wings will lose on Sunday. Obviously, they can win. One different bounce, and they could have won last night. This has nothing to do with winning, losing, or how close a game was, and ONLY to do with what I believe, both real and substantial, has happened to the Wings (and the Sharks last year) as a direct consequence of their extended rest. If that is true, and was known to be the case, Babcock could design a strategy to deal with that. Instead, Babcock is now berating the players for not performing at 100%, when it is entirely possible that they were performing beyond even that (under the physiological circumstances).

Again, we'll see.

Thoughts?

And please, this topic is only about whether or not you believe an extended layover between series can substantially and/or negatively affect player/team performance - and nothing else. This is not about refs, or the NHL, or rules, or any perceived unfairness or miscarriage of justice. All these things are already being discussed at length elsewhere.

FINAL THOUGHT: Right now I see only a "plausibility of concept". Plausible, but anecdotal at best. My next step will be to gather historical data about the Stanley Cup Playoffs and time off between rounds, to see if any statistically significant trends can be isolated.

Edited by Grypho

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i say that the layover is a definite factor.. plus the wings getting zata back may have had the team not play as hard as with him out.. but all in all. the wings got outplayed by the sharks, layover was an issue as i knew it would be, jimmy gave us a chance to win the game (how many shots did he save? a few of them spectacular?)... whole game in a nutshell.

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Zata in, better team. Zata out, team plays harder.

Both could be construed either way.

I think SJ was more motivated this game. Yes, I will say it again, the reffing is crap, but in a 2-1 loss, you can't really totally blame the reffing.

I still think Detroit takes this series in six.

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I would love to see a graph of the actual testosterone levels (the actual medical "mojo" numbers) for every player on each team; starting the night of the last series-winning game victory, and continuing on through their rest periods, leading all the way up to last night.

Bet there's a trend there. A few other tests would be interesting, but I'll bet there's never even been a controlled study. There was nothing I could find on a cursory search through the literature.

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What is the point of this thread? Who cares who's fault it is? It's over. They had it and they let it slip away. Game 2 is all that matters now. Is this what you guys do over at LGS? Over-analyze who's fault it is when the Sharks lose? :blink:

Edited by Broken 16

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What is the point of this thread? Who cares who's fault it is? It's over. They had it and they let it slip away. Game 2 is all that matters now.

This is exactly what Jimmy said in his interview last night and shows his maturity when facing problems in the playoffs. I know the veterans feel the same way, lets hope the rest of the team does as well.

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What is the point of this thread? Who cares who's fault it is? It's over. They had it and they let it slip away. Game 2 is all that matters now. Is this what you guys do over at LGS? Over-analyze who's fault it is when the Sharks lose? :blink:

I don't know what "we guys" do over at LGS, since I was just invited to join two days ago. LGW is my favorite NHL site, and my favorite haunt in the post season.

As for the point of the thread, it wasn't all that subtle, and some, who don't reckon things with your particular mindset, do care. You may not agree, or see the point yourself, but if you don't have anything to add to that, you could always just ignore it.

Edited by Grypho

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I don't know what "we guys" do over at LGS, since I was just invited to join two days ago. LGW is my favorite NHL site, and my favorite haunt in the post season.

As for the point of the thread, it wasn't all that subtle, and some, who don't reckon things with your particular mindset, do care. You may not agree, or see the point yourself, but if you don't have anything to add to that, you could always just ignore it.

Funny bounces and bad refereeing have nothing to do with rust. Rust might be what kept the Sharks in the game, but it didn't have anything to do with the Wings losing.

Edited by Broken 16

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Rust might be what kept the Sharks in the game, but it didn't have anything to do with the Wings losing.

Oh yeah?

If rust was a factor that "kept the Sharks in game", then it also certainly helped them to dictate majority puck possession time, as well as a nearly 2:1 ratio of shots on net. Had that not happened, the Wings would have had more shots on net, and a much higher probability of scoring more goals (given the closeness of the score despite all of that) -- which, in turn, could have made ALL bad calls, funny bounces, and even OT, complete non-factors, and non-issues.

Datsyuk Fan and Doc Holliday like this

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I think grypho jas a point though. Hope game two is better for the wings.

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I believe the NHL is a Business and Gary Bettman is a business man not a hockey fan....and forbes report shows that the Wings bring in about 29 million more than the Sharks.

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Oh yeah?

If rust was a factor that "kept the Sharks in game", then it also certainly helped them to dictate majority puck possession time, as well as a nearly 2:1 ratio of shots on net. Had that not happened, the Wings would have had more shots on net, and a much higher probability of scoring more goals (given the closeness of the score despite all of that) -- which, in turn, could have made ALL bad calls, funny bounces, and even OT, complete non-factors, and non-issues.

I watched the game too. Most of San Jose's shots were perimeter/bad angle shots. Not to take anything away from the Sharks. They did well in capitalizing on mistakes but Detroit looked way more organized and more dangerous imo. If the Wings can kick it up just one more gear, the Sharks will be in big trouble. A game 1 loss isn't really worth lamenting in the big picture.

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If the Wings can kick it up just one more gear, the Sharks will be in big trouble.

Can't disagree there.

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stuff...

I hate to detract from all the hard work you put in to patting yourself on the back, but you're kind of stating the obvious here. Everyone already knows that too long of a layoff can have a detrimental effect.

Though I'd say the effect was marginal, no matter how many quotes you picked out of the GDT. Aside from the PPs, which had nothing to so with rustiness, the 3rd period and OT were pretty even. So was the 1st.

I'd say being at home and down by a goal had more to do with the Sharks energy in the 2nd. For our part, I think we were just too passive. Trying too hard to not make mistakes or take penalties. Trying more to 'weather the storm' than increase our lead.

Since we did in fact weather the storm, I'm inclined to say the 2nd period really meant nothing to the game. 1st and 3rd periods were basically even. We scored in one, Sharks scored in the other. The OT goal was a lucky bounce. No need to over analyze anything. Close match between two good teams; the breaks went to the Sharks.

sleepwalker and esteef like this

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Jeez a Sharks fan comes in to make a detailed and correct point on game 1, and he is lambasted by certain members of the community for it?

Calm down, people.

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I would like to bring up a certain fact that may change your theory. Albeit I do not have the number of layoff days, the past three years the Cup champion has swept at least one team.

2010 - Chicago sweeps San Jose

2009 - Pittsburgh sweeps Carolina

2008 - Detroit sweeps Colorado

So... though your position holds some evidence, there is also evidence that the rest is effective in helping teams down the road.

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I don't think there really was much rust in my opnion, I thought the Wings played very well even in th OT before the Abs Penalty they looked real hungry and I thought they were going to maybe get another one in the net. The PK looked very strong it was just that one shot and it hit off of Stuart's stick and went it. It was just a lucky shot I think. I know this is horrible of me to say being I'm such a huge Wings fan, but I really didn't and still don't have high expectations for this series. I'm not saying I don't think the Wings can win it but I guess I'm just more fearful that we are going to see that Wings team that blew leads and got behind early and can't catch up and I don't know if this is true but I don't think the League will help the Wings at all they may even help the Wings get knocked out. I know it's bad to acuse the NHL of trying to stage the games and the Stanley Cup winner but I've seen to much over the past few years that just raises my eyebrows about the types of penalties that the Wings have got lately. But I think the Wings played very well in Game 1 and I look for an even better Game 2 for the Wings.

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Grypho i sort of disagree with your theory. Sure "rust" can be an issue...but the "rest" actually helped the Wings get healthy, so there was a big benefit to having 9 days off. We should benefit from the fact that two of our top three forwards had 9 days to heal from their injuries (Franzen and Zetterberg). I thought both those guys looked a bit off...maybe they are still a bit banged up...who knows.

I think a 2-1 OT game is a close game. I think the Wings got the lead and then went into "passive, careful mode" in the 2nd. Wings forecheck went into the tank and the Sharks became the aggressors and had a lot of shots, but not necessarily all of those chances were great chances. In the third, the Wings looked like they were going to take this game with the "passive, careful" strategy. But that plan was disrupted with the penalties (while they were soft calls, i think Bert should have known better than to give the refs a chance to call a penalty in that situation...not a smart play).

In OT, either team could have won. But after killing off the 4 min penalty, there was a moment of discombobulation in our zone and the puck ends up in the net...fluke goal.

My opinion is that the Wings sometimes go into "passive" mode when they are ahead...they seem to relax...or become less aggressive. It bugs the hell out of me, but it has happened before. They also need to SHOOT THE DAMN PUCK. Sorry there. But it pisses me off to no end when they over-dangle and hang onto the puck and search for that perfect tick tack toe goal when they can just shoot it ON NET, get a frickin rebound and score a frickin goal. There was a lot of that going on in game 1...as well as the passive mode thing. I doubt it has much to do with the rest or being over-rested. Babcock needs to tell them to forecheck more aggressively and shoot it on net more to test Niemmi a bit.

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Sure "rust" can be an issue...but the "rest" actually helped the Wings get healthy, so there was a big benefit to having 9 days off.

I can see that. My only question is that if 9 days rest helped Mule and Z to heal, but was that at the expense of the entire team's playoff capacity as a whole? (And I don't mean that as a rhetorical question.)

Let's look at two extremes for a second.

Somewhere between one day off and one month off there are two extremes that are detrimental to any team's playoff capacity. A single day's rest after a grueling series could be absolutely disastrous for any team. Likewise, an entire month off would not just be "somewhat detrimental", but downright disastrous. I think you would be hard pressed to find an athlete from any endurance sport who would argue that to the contrary. For example, my nephew is an MMA fighter. If he goes three days without training or fighting, he thinks he's screwed for at least a week.

So I am really only asking a three part question, one that I think is universal, and not specific to any team, but to average NHL players in general:

How little is too little rest, at one end, and how much is too much rest at the other? Then, somewhere between those two points, what is the optimal window? That's it. It may not be easy to answer, but that does not mean there aren't any specific answers to be had, because we could at least qualitatively identify the extremes.

Many fans described the Wings' Game 1 play using different synonyms for "lethargic" (implying physical limitations), while twice now in this thread that same play was referred to as "passive", which implies a mental state, obviously meant to infer that it was a kind of deliberateness on the parts of the players, and therefore within their control -- like a strategic move, of sorts ("Trying more to 'weather the storm' than increase our lead."). It didn't look that way to me, but if that is true, then I find that very sad for the Wings. If that is true, then Babcock has every reason to be angry at the majority of players on the team (all but, what, three?) for not "deciding" to flip that [purely mental] switch, and for essentially giving the Sharks' defense most of the night off!

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Groan they sucked last night. If they can't get better the sharks will crush us.

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I would like to bring up a certain fact that may change your theory. Albeit I do not have the number of layoff days, the past three years the Cup champion has swept at least one team.

2010 - Chicago sweeps San Jose

2009 - Pittsburgh sweeps Carolina

2008 - Detroit sweeps Colorado

So... though your position holds some evidence, there is also evidence that the rest is effective in helping teams down the road.

I know that Pittsburgh also lost games one and two in 2009.

I think the combination of the sweep and then being the ROAD team is what killed us. Pittsburgh swept Carolina, had to go to Detroit, lost one and two.

But, for both Chicago and for Detroit, we were the home team in game one and two. There may be something to Grypho's theory if you are the away team. Because going into an arena that is pounding after a rest should get the adrenaline going, especially in your own building.

If we can win game 2, we have a chance at this series. The Joe has been rocking lately, so we'll get a lot more energy going.

Honestly, if we shoot the puck more and test Niemi, we win. The Sharks are heavily frontloaded, but their defense and goaltending are suspect. Niemi was pulled twice against the Kings, and we're a much better offensive team than they are.

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... There may be something to Grypho's theory ...

It's not 'his' theory. It is literally discussed every single time any team has a long layoff in the playoffs, even before the very game we're discussing. I'd say it's even common knowledge. Give a team a week off, they'll probably be a little rusty.

...Many fans described the Wings' Game 1 play using different synonyms for "lethargic" (implying physical limitations), while twice now in this thread that same play was referred to as "passive", which implies a mental state, obviously meant to infer that it was a kind of deliberateness on the parts of the players, and therefore within their control -- like a strategic move, of sorts ("Trying more to 'weather the storm' than increase our lead."). It didn't look that way to me, but if that is true, then I find that very sad for the Wings. If that is true, then Babcock has every reason to be angry at the majority of players on the team (all but, what, three?) for not "deciding" to flip that [purely mental] switch, and for essentially giving the Sharks' defense most of the night off!

Don't be so melodramatic. It's not like the Sharks dominated the entire game. It was a portion of one period. Teams sit back all the time, especially when leading on the road. The home team comes out firing, the road team gets over-cautious...no one wants to be the guy that makes a mistake, or takes a penalty that leads to a tying goal. Every single team in the league does it at times. We got better toward the end of the second and in the third. That wouldn't have been possible if it was all some physical handicap from the layoff, as you seem to think.

The layoff was probably a small factor, mostly for Zetterbarg, who hadn't played in over 3 weeks. Next game it shouldn't really be a factor at all. You're acting like the Wings are doomed and incapable of playing with the Sharks. You weren't half as dominant as you seem to think. You didn't blow us out. You didn't even score during your most dominant stretch.

It was a very close game that could have easily gone either way. A little more luck and the Wings would have won, and there'd probably be a thread here on how much good the layoff did us.

esteef likes this

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I know that Pittsburgh also lost games one and two in 2009.

I think the combination of the sweep and then being the ROAD team is what killed us. Pittsburgh swept Carolina, had to go to Detroit, lost one and two.

But, for both Chicago and for Detroit, we were the home team in game one and two. There may be something to Grypho's theory if you are the away team. Because going into an arena that is pounding after a rest should get the adrenaline going, especially in your own building.

If we can win game 2, we have a chance at this series. The Joe has been rocking lately, so we'll get a lot more energy going.

Honestly, if we shoot the puck more and test Niemi, we win. The Sharks are heavily frontloaded, but their defense and goaltending are suspect. Niemi was pulled twice against the Kings, and we're a much better offensive team than they are.

That's true too... it could even depend on when they land in the destination of their next opponent lol. Lots of variables, but you're right only the next game matters right now. Niemi hasn't done anything to prove to me he's all that great, felt like he was just "along for the ride" last year in Chicago. We just need to get to the rebounds and we'll be scoring plenty. Props to the sharks for getting those loose pucks though.

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