Western Conference Finals Preview - San Jose's Goalies
With there being every indication that the series will begin on Sunday after the Flyers forced a game 7 on Friday, it's now time to take a look the Hawks' next opponent - the San Jose Sharks. After the jump we'll get started by taking a look at their goaltending
#20 / Goalie / San Jose Sharks
Jul 25, 1975
|2009 - Evgeni Nabokov||71||4194||44||16||170||2.43||2168||1998||.922||3|
Let's face it - the scouting report on the Sharks goaltending begins and ends with Nabby. As a 10 year veteran, the book is pretty much out on Nabokov. He's slightly undersized, but plays an athletic, acrobatic butterfly style due to his tremendous natural reflexes, notably his glove hand. Nabby can most definitely make a highlight reel save on some of the most glorious of chances - witness this hate crime against Brad Richards:
Watching that save is enough to make any shooter clench his ass cheeks in fear. On top of all of that, Nabokov is a far superior puck handler outside of his crease than the Hawks have seen with Rinne and Borat in the first two rounds, and even has a goal to his name back in 2002. Cleaner changes will be key for the Hawks, as Nabby will most definitely make 80 foot outlet pass to catch the Hawks scrambling at the benches.
But with all that said, there are holes to Nabokov's game. Due to the style he plays, he can be caught hysterically out of position if shooters are patient and/or passes are smart. And as is the mandate with any goalie, traffic in his crease is quite bothersome, especially given that Nabokov is generously listed at 6' even, as opposed to the 6'5" Rinne and 6'3" Sideshow Bob. If you thought those two didn't like it when the Hawks crashed the net like there was pizza-and-whiskey flavored pussy behind the goalie, just watch what happens to Nabokov. And when he's off, he's spectacularly off, as we saw in game 4 against the Wings, or against Canada in the Olympics, where in both cases he couldn't get his diaper changed fast enough.
Nabby comes into the series posting a 2.43 GAA (identical to his regular season numbers), and a .907 save percentage, which is markedly lower than his .922 of the regular season. If the Hawks continue to throw copious amounts of vulcanized rubber at the net, Nabokov will need to improve upon that, and all indications from the regular season point to the skaters in front of Nabby not being entirely interested in playing a prevent game against the Hawks.
So, bottom line - the chances will be there, get bodies to the net as always, be patient, avoid the glove hand if at all possible, and dump the puck cross-ice to prevent Nabokov from playing it and keying a breakout headed back the other way.
#1 / Goalie / San Jose Sharks
Jan 29, 1986
|2009 - Thomas Greiss||16||782||7||4||35||2.69||399||364||.912||0|
Because Nabokov plays such a heavy workload, Greiss saw very little action in the regular season, and figures to see even less in the postseason. His numbers are fine for a backup (as well as the German national team), and being that he's 24, he may still eventually grow into a starter, perhaps for another team. But if Greiss is playing at all this series it's because Nabby shit the bed in a game, or suffered a catastrophic injury. Basically, if you're a Sharks fan, there is no good circumstance under which you will see this man play.
Coming up next, we should have a look at San Jose's defensive corps posted sometime later in the day.