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San Jose's Keys To Game 3

This post is NOT to be confused with Jamie Baker's keys to the game as heard on the Sharks radio broadcasts. Or the TV keys to the game, which, if you haven't heard, will be done by our hero Drew Remenda. Drew's back in the saddle where he should be instead of awkwardly interjecting random neutral bits during the Hockey Night In Canada broadcasts. As for Marty McSorley, he has "personal" matters to attend to. Let's hope it doesn't involve Donald Brashear.

But getting back to the I said a few days ago, the Sharks, when they play their best, are pretty much the best team in the league. Game 2...well, they sure looked awesome for about ten minutes, huh? Then they went back into their somewhat familiar brain-cramp style, buoyed by the appearance of Mark "Jinx" Bell to screw up the rest of the game.

So, what are the keys to Game 3 victory? In a nutshell: don't screw up. But here's a little more detailed analysis.

1) Hit the Red Wings consistently. That means no 20 minute lulls where everyone acts scared of the big Winged wheel or Dominik Hasek's incomprehensible jibber-jabber. Skate hard, then hit, and repeat.

2) Shoot the freakin' puck. Everyone should take a page out of Bill Guerin's playbook and just shoot from damn near everywhere. Speaking of Guerin...

3) Wake up the second line. Patrick Marleau's looked great when he's shifted with Joe Thornton. When he's with Bill Guerin and miscellaneous winger...not so much. I think part of this is that it looks like Mike Babcock's got either the Kris Draper line or the Nicklas Lidstrom defensive tandem to handle Marleau's line. With Thornton, his game's about puck possession, so dumping it in and recovering it down low works for him. For Marleau, his game's about speed and he's getting stifled in the neutral zone. I'd consider altering the lines as such:


Putting Mike Grier with Marleau and Guerin should give that line a little extra speed on the forecheck. Plus, Grier's not afraid to hit anything and he keeps his feet moving at all times to get in behind the defense. Adding Joe Pavelski to the Curtis Brown line gives it a little more of an offensive slant.

4) Clear the freakin' rebounds. Evgeni Nabokov makes the save, good, but get the damn rebound out of there.

5) Move your feet on the power play. The good power play attempts happened when the defense and the wings continuously moved rather than staying static to wait for the Thornton pass.

6) Shoot on the power play. This only works in conjunction with #5 -- if you're constantly rotating your power play and getting shot off, you're much more likely to get a shot through and be free for the rebound. Stay away from the standing still crap that plagued the Nashville series, otherwise your shots will be blocked.

7) And in honor of one of Pete Stemkowski's broadcasting highlights, I'll use one of the Stemmer's favorite keys: PLAY DEFENSE. Yes, longtime Sharks fans should remember Stemmer giving incomprehensible ramblings about having to play tight defense in the defensive zone.