Now that we’ve got one game of each series under our belts it’s high time we overanalyzed what we saw for both games and panic about what we saw for both losers… Right? OK so we’re not about to do that, but we do have some thoughts about last night.
1. It was quite the juxtaposition for both Vancouver and San Jose last night. One team was overly rested up while the other was still working off the hangover of a grueling seven game series. The game played out pretty much the way you’d figure. Both teams came out cautious but full of energy but as the game wore down, the Sharks got tired and Vancouver took over. I doubt the rest of the series will play out similarly but this first game was one that Vancouver had to lock down in retrospect. Not beating San Jose while they were gassed would’ve been a very bad omen for Vancouver.
Instead, Vancouver gets their “gimmie” game and in comeback manner too. San Jose will be thankful to get the extra day off between Games 1 and 2 and they’ll be better prepared in Game 2 on Wednesday night.
2. Seeing the Sedin twins get things going in Game 1 was a great sign for Vancouver and very much expected to see. While San Jose is a great team, they’re not as defensively dedicated as the Nashville Predators were. The Preds made it their mission to shutdown the twins and they followed through with that with such zeal it’s a point of pride for them. San Jose isn’t going to lock in on them the same way, however.
I know that sounds like the Sharks will have problems with Henrik and Daniel if they do things that way, but the Sharks have their own sets of scorers and playmakers the Canucks will have to deal with as well. Everyone is going to get their opportunities to swing the series and it’s just a matter of cashing in on them. It just turned out that everyone we pointed to that had something to prove in these finals all came through in Game 1.
3. I’m sure we were all a bit relieved to see Maxim Lapierre get busted for diving late in the third period while trying to sell a Dan Boyle holding penalty. Vancouver’s been guilty of diving more than a few times throughout the playoffs and got away with it. Lapierre’s over-exaggerated sell job on a hold was both egregious and embarrassing. After all, if you’re being held, you don’t pirouette and fall to the ice.
It’s worth watching to see how both teams do with the diving as we’ve seen the Sharks pull off some fakery of their own throughout the playoffs. Let’s hope this doesn’t turn into an Italian soccer game with flops all over the ice to draw a call. This is one time where we’re OK with Colin Campbell flexing his authority if need be.
4. One thing the Sharks should be concerned about is that sagging third period. Sure, they came into last night’s game off a brutal series with Detroit and had just a couple days to prep for Vancouver, but this was their fourth straight bad third period effort going back to Game 5 against Detroit. It’s more than a trend right now for the Sharks and that slow, plodding effort has to change or else Vancouver is going to roll them out of the playoffs. Early intensity is great and putting opponents in that uncomfortable spot of having to fight back in games is good, but getting blitzed like that in the third period is no good.
5. If there was a team that has more questions to answer after their Game 1 loss it’s the Boston Bruins. While both the Bruins and Sharks showed some signs of things that could be worries further on in the playoffs, the way the Bruins were disposed of in Game 1 gives us more reason to be concerned for them. While its admirable that Claude Julien wanted to stick to his gameplan through Game 1, not adjusting to what Tampa Bay was throwing at them was the wrong call to make.
Yes, that three goal attack in the first period put them on their heels and changed the complexion of the game, but the Bruins didn’t generate anything else the rest of the way outside of what Tyler Seguin helped them do in his limited time on the ice. The Bruins will be better prepared tomorrow night in Game 2, but if Tampa Bay throws them any more curveballs, we worry that the Bruins will be stuck scrambling the rest of the series.