Quickly, Second round of the NHL Playoffs are about to get underway. I love Randy & Drew on Comcast, but I'd dare say they will likely say the same keys as they can say to every game: "protect the back, get the puck deep, work hard along the boards, and get traffic in front."
Seriously, I hope McLellan might look for some more novel approaches to best his former team. Maybe three defensemen against the top line of Holmstrom, Franzen, and Datsyuk... I'm thinking like Malholtra, Seto, Blake, Boyle, and Murray. This way, you can pinch a d-man down low for the cycle, and still retain a d-man on the blue line to play solid and limit turn-overs and break away chances to the Red Wings. Put Blake as the traffic in front of rookie Howard, and he can always cycle up to the point. I'd love to see if this happens at all during the series.
The Red Wings don't really have breakaway speed, so you just want to hold possession and really, really limit turnovers. And I'm sure that Detroit will work to have the Sharks facing the boards a lot in the Shark's offensive end, and we need to be aware to not allow them to pinch us up against the boards all night. Open up the ice and keep good spacing offensively- this means moving feet and constantly skating.
The absolute measuring stick for me of this series is how soon Marleau will have a two-point game. If it doesn't happen in one of the first two games at home, we're done. I think he looked like he might've had a slight back issue through the 1st round series- like he was avoiding big hits, especially along the boards. Hopefully the extra couple days have helped him.
Marleau needs to step up, his play has been very unremarkable so far.
I think Pavelski got more from the Olympic experience than almost any other player in the NHL. His play was outstanding, and has helped him play to an extremely high level ever since- not that he lacked anything before the Olympics or last season, mind you. Others I think really got the most from the Olympics include defensemen Shea Webber and Ryan Suter and Golie Halak.
The stars for us need to be Thornton, Heatley, Marleau, Boyle, Blake, and Nabokov. Honestly, I wold put Pavelski at the top of this list, but out big players need to play big too.
Notables to me are Pavelski, Setoguchi, Malholtra, and Vlasic. Sure, we need to rely on Thornton and Heatley and Boyle and Blake... But these notables I think are performing really well.
The questionables for me at Mitchell and Murray mostly. Mitchell needs to get himself to the right places at the right times- like a goal scorer does. And he was able to in his first season. Murray, needs to be solid on defense and not get out of position as he sometimes drifts.
Sure I could talk about Nabby or lots of other topics. But I'll just leave it at this for now.