Sharks Can't Duck Responsibility Tonight

Game 3 in Anaheim a must win

After Sunday night's awful home playoff loss to Anaheim, the San Jose Sharks find themselves in a deep, deep hole.

The Sharks, with the NHL's best record, might get bounced in the first round by the eighth-seeded Ducks. If so, this would probably displace the Giants' 2002 World Series Game 6 as the most epically disappointing playoff choke job in Bay Area sports history.

Our worst nightmare throughout this "dream" season was that the Sharks would again be dismissed from these Stanley Cup playoffs in the second round. People, they may not even make the second round.

I don't mean to infer anything here. But when these two teams play again tomorrow night in Anaheim, some of those Ducks fans will be carrying brooms.

Just as with Thursday's Game 1, the Sharks once again outplayed Anaheim. They spent most of the game on offense. They drew more penalties.They took more shots. But they remained 0-for-the-playoffs on power plays, including an astonishing six consecutive scoreless power plays. That's not just six scoreless for the whole game, that's six scoreless power plays in a row.

"I thought once again we controlled the game," Joe Thornton is quoted as saying in Ratto's post-mortem in the Chronicle, "We kept going at the net, we kept shooting the puck ... how many shots did we get? We keep playing like this, eventually we'll score some goals. It'll come. It'll come."

Coach McLellan is also confidently toe-ing the "It'll come" line. Tim Kawakami asked coach if the Sharks were beginning to doubt themselves. McLellan replied, "I don’t think there’s any doubt – after the two games, I think if you went through and asked the guys, they think they’re the better team."

You know what, coach? The Ducks are telling themselves the same thing. And they have two playoff victories over you to prove it.

Surveying McLellan and the team's comments today, it seems clear the Sharks will not make any major adjustments. And the fact is, they have played better hockey than the Ducks in both games. Last night they had nearly double the number of shots on goal than Anaheim. The Sharks are controlling the flow of the game, their shots just have not gone in.

It is either genius coaching or incredible stupidity that the Sharks will keep the same game plan despite the 0-2 start. For better or worse, they're going to dance with the date that they brought.

But they may find themselves getting stood up for the prom.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who is on his fifth box of Kleenex since last night.

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