Lightning Force Game 7; Sharks Move On

I didn’t stay up to watch the Sharks – Kings game last night, but from what I can see, the Sharks took the game to LA the way I figured a championship contender would.  San Jose took the game to LA by outshooting them 16-5 in the first period, and took a series of 1 goal leads before closing the series out in overtime via Joe Thornton’s goal.  The Sharks also showed their mettle by killing a 5 minute major penalty that spanned the end of regulation and the beginning of overtime.  Not surprisingly, the game winner came soon after the 5 minute kill.  San Jose looks like a legitimate contender, as many predicted they would.

Earlier in the night, Tampa Bay finally won a home game, 4-2, to send their series back to Pittsburgh for a seventh game.  There are two stats that I think are relevant going into Game 7 Wednesday night.  First, Tampa Bay has outscored Pittsburgh 21-14 in this series.  That’s only a touchdown, or 1.16 goals per game.  Second, and I have yet to hear anyone talk about this, but since winning the Stanley Cup in 2009, the Pittsburgh Penguins are 0-4 in closeout games.  If they fall to 0-5 and allow the Lightning to come back from a 3-1 hole on them, shouldn’t there be an opinion correction to account for all those saying that Marc Andre Fleury is a top level goalie, and that the Pens are a playoff team?  Sure, Fleury has had a very good season, but all the talk surrounding him seems to forget that he was dreadful for over 12 months before finding his game late in the 2010 calendar year.  He’s allowed 21 goals in 6 games, and it’s not as if he’s never gone through a long stretch of being bad before.  But, you know, he’s elite…
And sure, Crosby and Malkin aren’t there, but the team was winning regular season games without them this year, and the team also blew the 3-2 lead on Montreal last year with them.  There is a lot on the line for the Penguins tomorrow night, but given that most of the team will be back next year, I don’t think there’s a whole lot of pressure on them to win the Stanley Cup this year, or even the east.  But a first round exit and 5 consecutive donkey performances with 3 series wins isn’t exactly where any franchise wants to be.  Except maybe the Blue Jackets…
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