We play the unbeaten-at-home San Jose Sharks tomorrow night.
Every team that rolls out a streak like this is due to lose sometime. When they do its usually a rather large blowout win it seems. Guys just can't compete that consistently and collapse at the realization that this particular game is out of hand.
The Oilers have a unique opportunity; on national TV on Saturday night no less, to upend this streak and send themselves on one of their own. If they manage to beat LA tonight as well of course, reaching 3 which is the qualification for a winning streak.
Another rather impressive streak started against the Sharks not that long ago...
We had dispensed of Detroit rather impressively in the first round and were suddenly past the best opponent we'd faced an onto the Sharks. I was really pumped knowing our squad, the road ahead and how well we were playing heading into that series. The Finals looked like a REAL possibility.
Then we laid two giant eggs in our first two against SJ.
I've been angry with the team before for many reasons but I don't think I'd ever been that mad. Bad trades are made; home games are wasted through pathetic efforts that provide no entertainment, but you don't play like trash in two consecutive playoff games against a naturally insecure opponent who only wins in the regular season and has no business beating you while you're on a roll.
I can remember a post I made on HF lambasting them the night of that second loss. They were on the verge of losing the only genuine opportunity they'd had to win something in 15 years and were going to throw it away to a crop of overrated junk teams. Watching them turn that around was something very special that took very exceptional play from our best people.
If we want to use an unbeaten Sharks squad for the same purpose; the same type of effort will be required.
San Jose has been named one of the Cup favorites for a few years now. It doesn't make any particular sense to me because they've shown no propensity for playoff success and have not particularly addressed their areas of need. They remind me a lot of St. Louis in the 90's...a really good hockey team; but with nothing special.
Let's look at the important players for SJ
Joe Thornton - Surely a fantastic player; but to me has never shown what he had in Boston. He's so assist-oriented now that you can read him like a book on many nights and he doesn't have the flash and dash to make up for that fact.
Setoguchi - Haven't seen him so can't really comment. Gotta think though he's on a remarkable hot streak that's very likely not to keep up.
Marleau - One of the most debated players around these parts. Is there anything truly special about his game? Again, certainly a very good quality hockey player though. If you rough him up he can vanish.
Clowe - Again; is this just not a guy playing the best hockey of his life? I can't see how you could rely on a Ryan Clowe as such a massive contributor.
Boyle - Certainly a quality D-man and a very good pickup. He can be counted on.
Blake - WILL break down as the season wears on. Bank on it.
Michalek - We know what can be done to eliminate him from effective play.
Cheechoo - Probably the only underperformer on the entire team. He's been overrated his whole career anyway and again; can be shut down.
This is also a team with guys like Ehrhoff, Douglas Murray (WHO) Grier, Plihal, Lukowich, GOc, Shelley, etc. making up its supporting cast.
I don't see much of anything that will throw them to the top of the heap despite their insanely hot start.
The Sharks will remain the Sharks we know because their identity remains the same and they lack a true gamebreaking score and players that can't be shut down with the physical play of the playoffs. Getting rid of Ron 'bonehead' Wilson may help; but I'm not sure how much.
So good luck to our boys and especially to Mr. Schremp this weekend. Having a top-six forward controversy in the near-future due to quality rather than desperation would be an incredibly welcome change.