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The Best Offense

Red Wings @ Sharks, WCSF Game 2, May 1, 2011

The Sharks won, again, to put themselves up 2-0 in the series. All is well in Shark territory.

During the game, someone asked how long Niemi went during the first round without letting a goal in.  My knee-jerk response was “not as long as Leights did.”  That was a wild guess based on the fact that Nemo doesn’t have a shutout in this postseason. 

It turned out I was right. In the first round, Nemo went  41 min 15 seconds between goals. Leights went 49 minutes and 55 seconds. 

So, more proof that Flyers fans are too hard on their goalies.  Boucher has been better still, Bob has not been awful. I was disappointed to see Bob’s style unchanged when he came in to relieve Boosh. I had hoped he was working on making himself bigger, keeping his back straighter.  Maybe he has, maybe he only reverted under the pressure of jumping in mid-game. But enough about the Flyers goalies.

Niemi has been marvelous in the second round.  He has blown those 41 minutes to bits against the Red Wings. He made it to 112:31 without letting one in, if I’m adding my seconds correctly.

That’s across two games but so was his previous record.  So he’s pretty hot right now.  Today he stopped 33 shots.  Two days ago, he stopped 24.  Pretty good.  But I think the scoreless time is usually a better indicator than shots stopped.

I won’t ignore the fact that the Sharks have been very helpful making it inconvenient for the Red Wings to shoot or score on Nemo.  Several skaters even took turns playing secondary goalie today.

Pavs lost his footing next to the net but kept after the puck with stick, glove and foot until it was pushed to safety.

Murray took a turn closing a gap between Nemo and the post. He took the net off doing so. I don’t think Murray would make a very good goalie, but the effort needs to be recognized.

At about the same time, Boyle was in behind a sprawling Niemi. He swatted the puck out of the air and was able to get to it in time to avoid a hand pass or a turnover.

Also, obviously, consistent pressure from the Sharks offense prevents the need for those show-stopping saves.

That kind of help is incalculably important. If you did calculate it, I think the result would be WIN.

Also interesting in this game: both Sharks goals came from the much maligned blue line, the game winner scored by Wallin.  Hah.  Yay Wallin.  Some called it a soft goal. The only thing soft about it was the Red Wings giving Wallin so much time to load and fire his cannon at Howard. Howard almost had it but it bounced out of his grasp, over his shoulder and in. I would not have been surprised if the shot had knocked him over backwards.  So I don’t think it was all that soft.

Another one-goal win. I’ll take it.


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