The San Jose Sharks look to close out the series tonight, completing a sweep of the lowly Avalanche at...oh, I'm sorry...I think I was working from the wrong script. The Sharks were supposed to own the Avalanche in the series, but the only "own" we've seen from them so far have been goals courtesy of Dan Boyle and Rob Blake.
The Avalanche are in position to take a commanding lead in the series, but they are going to need to improve some stuff. Craig Anderson has been a beast and the Avs' penalty killers have been rock solid. Still in need of work:
- clearing attempts. Richard Simmons exhibits firmer wrists than we've seen from our D so far.
- excessive penalties. Our guys have seen more box than Wilt Chamberlain.
- offensive fizzle. Kyle Quincey leads the Avalanche in shots in the playoffs. No joke needed for that one.
This has been an ongoing story with the Avalanche for a few years now, but once again they are losing the battle of attrition. Peter Mueller and David Jones are still not back. Kevin Porter was hurt in game 2, but should be back tonight. His replacement, Ryan Stoa, was hurt in game 3. Before he got hurt, he was skating on the 2nd line - a spot vacated by the injured Milan Hejduk. Tough luck, indeed. [UPDATE: According to AD, Hejduk & Porter are out & Svatos & Durno are in. Additionally, either Brett Clark or Ruslan Salei will replace Ryan Wilson in the lineup tonight]
Meanwhile, the Sharks get Dany Heatley back. He missed game 3 with a bruised ego (or some similar whiny-ass excuse). Expect him to resume his topflight play of standing stationary in the slot, waiting for either a pass or a trade to a playoff contender.
Since I'm still feeling acerbic, I will now bring up our favorite game thread topic: the officiating. For the most part, I think the penalties called on the Avalanche have been valid, deserved calls. I am a little mystified, though, at how much the Sharks have gotten away with. So far, they are the least penalized team in the playoffs. Conspiracy? No. Uneven officiating? I think so. Its just three games though, and there is plenty of time for that pendulum to swing back in the other direction. The Avalanche will get their chances; San Jose was the 8th most penalized team in the regular season. The question is: will they be able to capitalize on them.
Peter Budaj is the surprise starter tonight. I just typed that to see if anyone actually reads this tripe.