While the Hawks enjoyed a beat up, broken and simply not very good defense against the Canucks, they won't be so lucky against San Jose. The Sharks have guys that are physical without being stupid and fast point scorers who aren't liabilities in their own end. As part of our Series preview we'll break down the pairings for the Sharks..
|2009 - Rob Blake||70||7||23||30||14||60||4||0||1||0||182||3.8|
|2009 - Marc-Edouard Vlasic||64||3||13||16||21||33||1||0||0||0||74||4.1|
A pretty solid answer to the Seabrook/Keith line. Vlasic will play the smart defensive game and will rarely be caught making a mistake. Blake will bring the physical side to compliment an incredibly hard shot. They aren't quite fully comparable though. Vlasic doesn't bring the same offensive game that Keith will and Blake doesn't bring the physicality that Biscuit does. Blake won't shy away from throwing a hit.. but he only has 10 so far in the playoffs. Rob Blake is also approximately 70 years old. Despite that, he's still going to be a force out on the ice. He's got the highest QUALCOMP rating of all defensemen for the Sharks and he's going to log big minutes. He's also going to be out on the power play due to his rocket launcher shot. He's been held pointless on the man advantage so far in the playoffs though. In fact, he's only got 2 points overall and only a +1 rating. He's still solid in his own end and makes solid passes to the forwards. Vlasic is a hugely underrated blue liner though. Like Keith, he's very strong on using stick and his positioning to force opponents to the outside and away from passing or shooting lanes. He's by far the best shut down defenseman for the Sharks. He won't see any time on the power play though because I don't think he's learned how to actually shoot the puck yet. He doesn't have a physical game either but when you're as strong at everything else, it doesn't really matter. Expect him and Blake to be out there as often as possible against Toews and Kane.
|2009 - Dan Boyle||76||15||43||58||6||70||6||0||3||0||180||8.3|
|2009 - Douglas Murray||79||4||13||17||3||66||1||0||1||0||85||4.7|
Dan Boyle was brought to the Sharks to replace the hole that was left when Brian Campbell decided to sign with the Blackhawks. Every Sharks fan will tell you that they're pretty happy with the exchange. Boyle will eat huge minutes, is one of the best skaters in the league, quarterbacks a power play flawlessly and is stronger in his own end than Campbell for the most part. Despite all that, the Sharks fans will boo Soupy relentlessly every time he touches the puck. So that ought to tell you a lot about the logical thinking of these fans. Boyle has 9 points so far in the playoffs, however, much like Pavelski, most of them come on the power play.
You'd like to think of Douglas Murray as nothing more than a goon throwing his body around to clear the crease or hurt the opposing forwards. You can't do that anyore though. Murray has stepped up his game this year and become a pretty solid shut down man. That's not to say he's not still an asshole... just ask Johan Franzen
|2009 - Kent Huskins||82||3||19||22||6||47||0||0||0||0||47||6.4|
|2009 - Jason Demers||51||4||17||21||5||21||3||0||1||0||52||7.7|
Huskins is a guy who doesn't do anything particularly well but doesn't do anything particularly poorly either. He moves the puck well for a bottom pairing guy and is a strong skater as well which clearly can help spring the Sharks quick forwards. He's yet another big guy on the blue line but doesn't really use that size to his advantage (he hasn't yet crossed over into double-digits in hits for the playoffs). For a guy with little offensive skills, he did chip in with over 20 points for the regular season though. Of course, he has zero so far through the first two rounds.
Demers will provide another strong puck mover on the bottom pair. He's a great passer and a smooth skater which again can spring the always dangerous forwards. He's not quite as strong in his own zone though and can be a liability when he tries for the breakout pass and ends up turning the puck over in his own zone. You could do a lot worse for a 5 and 6 pairing than these two though. The Sharks will simply ask them not to be egregious in their own zone and help get the puck to their forwards.