A key for the Sharks in game five will be Niemi keeping his helmet on and eyes open as much as possible.
I spent the weekend in Las Vegas. It was pretty fun I guess, but after the Sharks' horrible loss on Sunday I didn't appreciate the number of people I saw walking around wearing Canucks gear. Seriously, in the forty-eight hours or so I was there, I saw at least a dozen people wearing Canucks jerseys or shirts or hats. It seemed a little excessive - especially after the game four debacle, when the sight of anything that even slightly resembled a Canucks logo made me sick to my stomach.
I saw one guy with a Sharks shirt on, a middle-aged dude standing around in the MGM Grand. I shouted "Go Sharks!" at him on Sunday morning, and he said "Yeah, hopefully."
Game four was a failure of history-making proportions. Even though the final score was close, the way in which the game played out, with the 2nd period parade to the penalty box and the injury to Joe Thornton, was pretty demoralizing.
There are positives to be found in the stats, if we try. The shot-differential is a big one, as MOST of the time, if you out-shoot your opponent by more than twenty, you're going to win. Battling back and scoring two goals in the third period showed heart, but it wasn't enough to overcome the 2nd period from Hell.
Winning three games in a row during the regular season is a minor accomplishment. In the playoffs it's pure gold. The Sharks were able to do it against the Red Wings in the 2nd round, but they're going to have to find a way to do it again, starting tonight, if they don't want their season to be over.
Thornton is hurt. He'll play because it's the most important game of the year, but it remains to be seen how effective he can be.
Hold your breath everybody.
Prediction: It's not over yet. Sharks win 4-2, with goals from Thornton, Couture, Boyle, and Murray.