Thursday, May 01, 2008
Game Fourgetable: Sharks 2, Stars 1
Tough loss in Game 4 for the Stars. The 2-1 Sharks win sends the series back to San Jose for a now-necessary fifth game. I'm sure there will be a lot of talk about how "it's never easy to sweep a team" and how "the toughest win is the one to close out a series", but the Stars had their chances last night.
I'm not here to poo-poo on a Stars 3-1 series lead, but if we look at this one game at a time, Dallas should be a little disappointed in Game 4. Both Sharks goals came off Stars errors. The first one on another Sergei Zubov no-look pass that was picked off and taken the other way for a breakaway shorthanded Sharks goal. No, this isn't a Game 3 recap. He did it on consecutive nights. The second goal came on a San Jose power play in the 3rd period after Mike Modano flung the puck into the stands.
Speaking of playing on consecutive nights, I hate hearing that as a reason why it's hard for a team to win. Perhaps that's an argument during the regular season when both teams are playing completely different schedules. It's the playoffs now. Both Dallas and San Jose had to play three games in four days. And from the looks of things, the Sharks are still hurting much worse than the Stars.
Maybe the Stars lost because American Airlines Center only allowed small broom-heads and not any brooms with a broomstick attached. Bad karma is a tough thing to overcome. Although I would argue that mental mistakes are tougher. The Stars don't have to play perfect to beat San Jose, but they do need to limit errors.
Between the pipes, the Stars seem to have very little to worry about. It was only nine years ago that Reunion Arena echoed with chants of "Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!" as the Eagle protected his nest en route to winning the Stanley Cup. Here we are now in 2008, and the packed AAC crowds can be heard chanting "Marty! Marty! Marty!" Turco has been great this series. Two of the three goals he gave up in Games 3 & 4 were on breakaway chances for the Sharks off the Zubov turnovers.
Then again, the only Stars goal came off a Sharks turnover right in front of their goal on what could only be described as a centering pass from San Jose's Devin Setoguchi to Stars winger Jere Lehtinen. Dallas's offense has been able to score 11 goals so far in this series, but keep in mind that eight of those goals came in the first two games. The Stars averaged 3.3 goals per game in their first round series against Anaheim, but Dallas failed to score more than once in regulation in both home games in this second round series versus the Sharks.
Perhaps the best cure for whatever ailed the Stars in Game 4 lies in Northern California. There's a chance that Dave Tippett has to pay taxes in San Jose because the Stars have owned the Sharks at HP Pavilion. So while Dallas coulda, shoulda, woulda in Game 4, they now have three more chances to close out this series. Doing so as quickly as possible is in their best interest as the next round holds what will be a bruising match up between this series winner and the NHL's best team, the Detroit Red Wings.
It's not panic time ... yet. If the Stars cut down on some of their mental errors, they are going to be very tough for San Jose to contend with the way the Sharks have been playing. San Jose will need to win four consecutive games after a 0-3 start to advance, something that hasn't happened since 1975 and only twice ever in hockey.
If the Stars are going to make a serious playoff push at Lord Stanley's Cup, they need to dispense of the Sharks ASAP and get some time to rest up before starting the conference finals. And Stars fans, please - *PLEASE* - don't think that the Stars could be making deep playoff runs now for the next five years based on this year's success. There's another Dallas team that disproves that assumption.
Game 5 is Friday, May 2 (tomorrow) with the puck dropping at 9pm CDT. So stay up late, get yourself a mug of hot chocolate and curl up on the couch (or get yourself a bottle of beer and invite your buddies over), as the Stars head to one of their best venues with a chance to close out the series.