"Sharks are as tough as those football fans who take their shirts off during games in Chicago in January, only more intelligent." -Dave Barry
The terrifyingly dedicated folks over at Copper and Blue analyzed the scoring chances in Game 1 far better than I could, so go there for actual hockey analysis. That's not why anybody comes to Battle of California, is it? God I hope not.
Anyway, piggy-backing off of the great work they did over there, it seems that the positive feelings I had after the game on Sunday were more than just blind optimism, and the Sharks' strong play was reflected in the scoring chances. The Sharks had the majority of the chances, with a slight edge at even strength and (obviously) big gains on the powerplay. This isn't the huge domination in numbers we saw in the games against the Avalanche but it's still encouraging; if the Sharks play every game like this one, the odds favor them.
However, that's not to say the Sharks should play EXACTLY the same. A bit more screening of Auntie Emmie (I don't want to check the spelling of his name every time, so this is how I will refer to the Chicago goaltender) and a real focus on eliminating turnovers (Sharks had 20 giveaways to Blackhawks 9) would go a long way towards getting the victory the Sharks need.
This guy wrote an article on Puck Daddy about how the Sharks are too focused on forward-line match-ups, and I am confused. If you paid attention to the actual line changes instead of just listening to what the NBC analysts were saying, it was Chicago that was doing the quick changes to try and react to the Sharks' lines, not the other way around. This is backed up by the actual analysis at Copper and Blue, so I'm going to trust them and their numbers over some guy and what he thinks is going on. It's a fine article in general principles, but it doesn't make sense to call out the Sharks for something they aren't actually doing wrong.
Random fact: Chicago is a miserable place, and it's science.
It's awesome that the Sharks have taken so few penalties in this post-season. This shows that they've been moving their feet and playing active defense and have avoided doing stupid things, even during difficult stretches of play. That's great news and indicative of the mental strength the Sharks have shown throughout these playoffs.
Prediction: Sharks win 3-1, with goals by Heatley, Setoguchi, and Pavelski.
BONUS NON-HOCKEY CONTENT: I present to you a teaser for my upcoming hit film COKED-UP SHARKS, which I just made up in the comments for the last gameday post:
An exclusive tropical island resort in the Caribbean, a secluded retreat for the fabulously rich...and a hideaway for those who make their living outside the law. It is a place where movie stars mingle with underworld kingpins, beyond the reach of any government.
But now, a storm is approaching. A hurricane of epic proportions has disrupted the tourism and drug traffic around the island and has cut off any hope of communication or escape. The streets and buildings are rapidly flooding, but it's not the water that these people need to fear...it's the dozens of angry, bloodthirsty sharks the storm is bringing with it...sharks that are swimming in water full of powerful Colombian cocaine.
This summer, it's time to find out the answer to the question: what's worse than a bunch of hungry sharks?
You might as well just give me the Oscar now.