San Jose's way is through Calgary
The Sharks need a huge turnaround in order to beat the Flames in the Western Conference final.
Originally Published: May 12, 2004By Ray Ferraro | Special to ESPN.com
What is each team doing right?
Calgary: Miikka Kiprusoff has been terrific in goal, the the offense has been spread out, with seven players accounting for the eight goals the Flames scored in the first two games. Calgary also has gotten a great performance out of its penalty-killing unit and has played with much more energy.
San Jose: Not much. Of the four remaining teams in the playoffs, San Jose's play has been the most disappointing. The Sharks are a far better team than they have shown and were not ready for the energy Calgary has shown.
What adjustments can each team make?
Calgary: The Flames need to take fewer penalties and avoid putting themselves at a disadvantage so often. Calgary had 20 penalty minutes in the first two games. If the Sharks can start taking advantage of that, things could start to turn around a little bit. Composure will be key going back home and playing in front of a raucous crowd.
San Jose: First, Evgeni Nabokov has to be far better going forward than he was in allowing eight goals on 57 shots over the first two games. Second, the threesome of Patrick Marleau, Vincent Damphousse and Jonathan Cheechoo has to come through with some offense. Third, Nils Ekman has been a big disappointment for the Sharks during the playoffs; he has to pick it up as well. San Jose definitely needs a spark, and coach Ron Wilson intimated after Game 2 that changes may be coming in terms of line combinations and players in or out of the lineup.
Calgary: The line of Shean Donovan, Ville Nieminen and Marcus Nilson has not gotten the attention it deserves. All three are very fast and each of them had a goal and an assist in the Flames' 4-1 win in Game 2. Donovan and Nilson are also key penalty killers.
San Jose: It's hard to find one. San Jose now has to win four of the next five games in this series -- with three of those five in Calgary -- and there is not really one specific thing the Sharks can point to and build on as a positive.
Calgary: Not much has gone wrong for the Flames, but here you have to come back to the penalty situation. The Flames have taken penalties they are likely not happy with and need to avoid short-handed situations.
San Jose: This one is a tie between Marleau and Nabokov. Marleau led the team with 57 points during the regular season and leads all playoff scorers with seven goals, but he has not recorded a point against Calgary. Nabokov's save percentage is just .860 against the Flames; he must improve if San Jose hopes to get back into the series.
How will each team win the series?
Calgary: The Flames don't need to change a thing. If they keep playing with energy and play over the next two games like they did in Game 2 they will close the Sharks out in Calgary. People have been lulled to sleep a little by the thought that the Flames are not as talented as their playoff opponents. But the Flames have shown they can play with anyone and simply need to continue playing their brand of hockey.
San Jose: The Sharks must begin matching the jump in Calgary's game, which will be difficult in the Saddledome, where the crowd will be into the game from the start. And for San Jose to get things rolling, Nabokov will likely have to weather a stormy 10-minute stretch at some point in Game 3, standing on his head to keep his team in the game and the series.
Ray Ferraro retired from the NHL following the 2001-02 season after an 18-year career and is now an analyst for ESPN.
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