Friday, May 05, 2006

Oil Sweep!

Yeah, right. I'm a positive guy but I'm not stupid.

The Sharks are an interesting team. I've seen very little of them but remember 03/04 when they had a nice run to the conference final. Patty Marleau emerged as a big game player that year and the Sharks looked to be an up and coming team. I was surprised at their early struggles this year but they shed a lot of veteran guys and also lost Rathje who was a key on their blueline. Another key guy, Scott Hannan, really struggled with the new standard of officiating but figured it out.

Picking up Joe Thornton turned their season around. Jonathan Cheechoo, who is from my neck of the woods (northern Ontario is where I was born and raised), had 7 goals when Thornton was acquired. And now look at him.

If anything the Sharks took a short step back and now look to be a contender for the next few years. Why they would sign Nabokov to @5M a year is beyond me but there is a dearth of quality keepers out there and my guess is they will be able to unload him, assuming they go with Toskula as their starter. They have a good young team and they scare me, moreso then the Wings did, if you can believe it.

Up front the Sharks tend to go with three lines. Alyn McCauley missed the last game with Nashville and is probably going to have offseason surgery - not sure if he is going to suit up. If he does not or is not 100% that is a bonus for the Oil. He's a nice two way player.

The Sharks have a terrific PP and two pretty strong lines up front, Thornton and Cheechoo along with Ekman and then Marleau with two kids, Bernier and Michalek. They sure can skate and they have some size.

On D they have two bangers in MacLaren and Hannan and two nice offensive guys in Ehrhoff and Tom Preissing. Preissing is a little smaller so watch for the Oil to take the body.

I know nothing about Toskula but what I have read. If I came downstairs and he was sitting on my couch I'd have no idea who he was. I would say "hey you strange Finnish looking guy. I don't know who you are but get out of my house or the big fellow will turn you into a pudding while we cheer him on" I might say something like that. But that goes for most of this team. He's a good keeper though from what I understand.

Mike Smith provides some secondary scoring from the third line. He has a terrible Junior A playoff dye job.

Ville Nieminen took 20 minutes in penalties against Nashville. I would guess that his usual stupidity will likely cost his team at least one game. He's always good for that.

Keys to an Oiler win and, yes, I think they are going to take this one too. Some of these are stating the obvious but if you want rocket science go to Joey Juneau's blog.

- stay out of the box - Sharks have a terrific PP - they're going to get their chances but no dummy penalties - no freebies - Oil did pretty well in this regard against the Wings

- win the matchups - the way I see it Horcoff's line and Pronger/Smith take on Pronger, Peca faces Marleau, we can win these matchups I believe - Nashville did a good job on Thornton/Cheechoo but could not stop Marleau, Peca may be the key guy in this series

- secondary scoring - Moreau, Dvorak, Torres, Peca, Pisani - all need to chip in (in Pisani's case continue to chip in) some offence

- roll those lines - the Oil have the advantage in depth this series and have to take advantage - I think there will be times they go to three lines but when they can use four use four - it will pay off

- forecheck forecheck forecheck - Sharks D has some inexperience

- Hemsky and Samsonov - how about a couple of big games - Hemsky showed what he can do in G6 - need to see more out of both of these guys, I think they will see some easy minutes - they better take advantage

The mantra last series was play hard and smart and have Roloson play well and things will work out and I think we have more of the same here. The Sharks are a good team but they can be had. The Oilers have more depth up front and on the blueline, imo, and they also have a little more experience. Intangibles can count for shit sometimes but if Pronger can shut down Thornton and Peca can do a job on Marleau then the Oil go through in 6. Hopefully Sunday night I'll be posting a pint.

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