May 24, 2011, 6:47 PM EST
After winning on special teams and on the scoreboard in Game 3, the San Jose Sharks experienced a disturbing role reversal in their 4-2 Game 4 loss. The only way they can make their first Stanley Cup finals appearance in franchise history is to beat the Presidents Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks three times in a row. The Sharks hope to begin that journey in Vancouver tonight.
San Jose @ Vancouver (Versus) – 9 p.m. ET; Canucks lead series 3-1
Of all the Sharks worries, something tells me that they’re not too concerned about their “playoff demons.” Instead, they’ll hope that their team will rally around their injured star Joe Thornton, who will fight through a shoulder injury in Game 5. Simply put, the Sharks need more from forwards such as Dany Heatley and Joe Pavelski if they hope to bring the series back to the Shark Tank.
Meanwhile, the Canucks hope to put away an opponent on their first chance for once. It took them four tries to finish off the Chicago Blackhawks in Round 1 and two tries to end the Nashville Predators’ season in the semifinals. It’s not a do-or-die game for them, but they don’t want to be weary in their first Stanley Cup finals appearance since 1994. (If they make it, obviously.)
With the Joe Thornton question out of the way, the biggest lineup questions revolve around the teams’ defenses. Hip check virtuoso Keith Ballard is expected to play again in Game 5 for the Canucks, but Christian Ehrhoff seems like a toss-up after missing Game 4. The Sharks face a question about their blueline as well since it sounds like young offensive defenseman Jason Demers is ready to go. Will Todd McLellan decide to put him back in the lineup? It sounds like both teams won’t tip their hands until game time.
If the Sharks lose tonight, they’ll face another year’s worth of inane questions about demons and choking. On the other hand, if the Canucks lose, people will wonder about their killer instinct and energy going forward. For more on Game 5, let’s take a look at the additional PHT content.
- This just in: Henrik Sedin is still an exceptional hockey player.
- Joe tackles San Jose’s defensive problems and the disappearance of Dany Heatley.
- People might make jokes about his terrible luck with injuries, but Sami Salo should also be a source of inspiration for anyone who refuses to give up despite pain and long odds.
- Jeremy Roenick calls out a few Sharks players while Keith Jones thinks the Canucks will wrap the series up tonight. Check out their video preview for Game 5 in this post.
- The Sharks react to playoff demon talk. Thornton cannot win this game for them alone, especially with his injured shoulder.
- Other primer posts for Game 2 and Game 3.
- Video: Projected rise in salary cap could have some players ‘licking their lips’ 3
- Discuss: Blackhawks score big on Rivalry Night on NBCSN 33
- Crosby: If I had to guess Thornton’s suspension, I’d say 10 games 63
- Cowen gets two-game suspension for hit on Girgensons 12
- Rangers must consider Callahan’s injury history in contract talks 13
- The Chip ‘n’ Chase: Outrage over hockey violence, Gary Bettman is a happy man, Darryl Sutter is awesome, and more! 31
- Report: Isles coach Capuano not seen as problem 11
- Rivalry Night on NBCSN: Flyers challenge top-ranked Blackhawks 18
- Update: Ryan Callahan out 4-6 weeks with MCL sprain 15
- Four goals: Ovechkin wills Caps to stunning shootout win vs. Bolts 62
- Video: Penguins’ Orpik stretchered off ice; Bruins’ Thornton given match penalty (182)
- Neal suspended five games for kneeing Marchand in the head (156)
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ (138)
- Pens put Orpik on IR (132)
- Orpik suffers from concussion, including memory loss (118)