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Dan's Thought of the Day - 5/3/2013

Friday, 05.03.2013 / 12:45 PM
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Dan\'s Thought of the Day - 5\/3\/2013

Often, the conventional wisdom is that the odd numbered games of series are the most important, and in general, it does hold true that Games 1, 3, 5, and 7 hold the greatest opportunity to seize control or change momentum of a series. But, in many cases, it is Game 2 that is the most pivotal.

In 1979, the New York Rangers took a 4-1 victory from the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. It appeared that the Rangers were going to end Montreal’s reign of three straight Stanley Cup championships, and that all odds were in their favor to cruise to victory. But, a funny thing happened on the way to the start of Game 2 that changed everything.

Canadiens coach Scotty Bowman had pulled his starting goaltender, Ken Dryden, in favor of Bunny Larocque in Game 1 when the contest needed a momentum shift. Larocque was slated to start in Game 2 as well.

But like Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom this past week, Larocque was injured in warm-ups, and so Bowman’s original plan to go with him had to yield back to the original plan of going with Dryden. The result? Montreal won 6-2, then 4-1, then 4-3 in OT, then 4-1. The Canadiens won their fourth straight Stanley Cup, and the Rangers visions of sugar plums were dashed from their heads.

Last season, the Sharks also won Game 1 in St. Louis. Down 1-0 in Game 2, they lost a faceoff in the offensive zone, about 190 feet away from their net. The Blues were able to work the puck up the ice and take advantage of key slips in the attention to detail needed for victory. T.J. Oshie put forth a brilliant effort on the right wing boards, and David Backes found the puck on his stick for a huge goal to give the Blues a 2-0 lead.

Coach Ken Hitchcock and the Blues had their game plan rewarded at a critical tipping point of the series. They won that Game Two, 3-0, and took the series with wins of 4-3, 2-1, and 3-1.

The scores were tight, but the tipping point was also in Game Two, not necessarily because of the fact that St. Louis won the game, but because of what they proved to themselves about the mettle of their team in that particular playoff series.

This year, against Vancouver, the Sharks did a terrific job in Game One. They need to remain focused on each and every important detail of winning, so that Game Two can be a pivotal strike in their favor. No detail is too small to be focused on in this one.

Of course, the second win in a series is more difficult than the first. Vancouver is going to be ready. They’re talented and well-prepared.

It’s going to be a great game. See you on the radio!

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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Pavelski 82 41 38 23 79
J. Thornton 82 11 65 20 76
P. Marleau 82 33 37 0 70
L. Couture 65 23 31 21 54
B. Burns 69 22 26 26 48
T. Wingels 77 16 22 11 38
D. Boyle 75 12 24 -8 36
J. Demers 75 5 29 14 34
T. Hertl 37 15 10 11 25
M. Nieto 66 10 14 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Stalock 12 5 2 .932 1.87
A. Niemi 39 17 7 .913 2.39
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