San Jose Sharks Look to Extinguish Calgary Flames' Momentum in Game Four

Justin ReschkeContributor IApril 15, 2008

After gaining an early three-goal lead in Game Three, the San Jose Sharks sat back and stopped pressing the Calgary Flames, who took full advantage.

To force overtime, especially in a playoff game, after going down by three goals in a huge feat.

To come back and score four unanswered goals and win is as big of a momentum boost that any team could ever ask for.

Combine that with Calgary playing in one of the loudest buildings in the league and it spells trouble for the boys in teal.

So what can the San Jose Sharks do to ensure a victory to even the series?

A huge first step would be getting Christian Ehrhoff back. He skated a full practice yesterday would be a huge upgrade over Matt Carle or Alexei Semenov.

Semenov makes me twitch every time he gets near a puck and Carle still has some "junior," no "college" moments.

Example 1A would be his pinch against Kristian Huselius in Game Three where he fell over, allowing a two-on-one break.

Ehrhoff is among the top three or four skaters on the team, has been playing shutdown defense since January, and has a rifle of a shot from the point, something that both alternatives lack. Pairing Ehrhoff with Vlasic would give the Sharks a true third defensive pairing that could spell Craig Rivet and Kyle McLaren of some of their duties.

Secondly, big Joe Thornton has got to make some adjustments.

Whether it comes from him or the coaching staff, setting up down low is not working against the Flames. It looks like Dion Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr has drawn an assignment against the Marleau line, leaving Rhett Warrener and Cory Sarich to handle Joe's like. Warrener has been collapsing low and putting a body on Joe behind the net.

However, the strong side (puck side) winger has also been collapsing and with Jonathan Cheechoo and Milan Michalek set up in front, looking for a pass, it creates a situation where Joe has no space and usually turns it over in the corner.

To counter this, Joe's line could implement a cycle in the corner and always have Cheech or Milan behind him to dish the puck off to before heading to the net or finding a pinching defenseman with a pass for a shot.

Another option would be to have Joe set up on the half boards, much like he does on the powerplay, to allow a pass into the corner where Cheechoo or Milan would have time to get it (since Joe would draw the defenders to him) or a pass back to the point.

Game time is about four-and-a-half hours from now so we'll see.

This will be a defining game in the series and I have a feeling that if the Sharks go down tonight, I'll be writing about the Oakland A's more frequently after Game Five.

Go Sharks!