Ratto: Sharks can't get comfortable with lead

May 1, 2011, 1:48 am
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Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

The topic of the day was the San Jose Sharks power play, which was a life-saving yet still sorry 1-for-6, and 3-for-29 this postseason. Thats 10.6 percent, which is damned bad.That makes them the owners of the second-worst power play of the teams left in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, ahead of only Boston, which is an even shabbier 0-for 26. Thats 0 percent, in case you needed additional math.But heres something else. Both the Sharks and Bruins are 1-0 in the second round of the playoffs, which beats the other available alternative.The lesson here is, the power play statistic is a statistic, and evidently not a very good predictor of anything. Like most hockey statistics, it does not untangle the relationship between persistence and blind luck. See Ferriero, Benn, 29 April 2011.
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But with Game 2 of this series as the noon diversion across the Bay Area, the Sharks have shown they do not need to dominate all the mathematical rubrics to handle the Detroit Red Wings. Or, frankly, the other way around.This series will not be won by fretting over bad power play numbers. Nor will it be lost by doing so. The Sharks and Red Wings are separated by a fortuitous deflection off the shaft of a stick after 67 minutes, period. It really is no more complicated than that.And if youre waiting for the benefits of momentum to send the Sharks to Detroit with a stranglehold on the series, better to keep your powder dry there as well. Momentum does not exist; the Sharks had all the momentum there is to have Friday night and could have just as easily have lost the game, as they did in Game 5 of the Los Angeles series.As in, to quote Todd McLellan, If we dont score that one power play goal, we could be standing here talking about a 1-0 loss instead of a 2-1 win.VIDEO: Sharks practice interviews
And that was a matter of luck as well, since the goal in question came when Joe Pavelski took a baseball swing at an airborne puck and beat Jimmy Howard with the tying goal.We mention all this capricious behavior because even if they manage to win Sunday, the Sharks are not exactly safe and dry. Taking only the last three rounds in the past five years, the team that loses the first two games on the road series actually comes back to win the series about a quarter of the time.That means that the concept of the stranglehold is a myth, and even at 3-0, youre not quite clear. Philadelphia cheated the reaper a year ago, and Chicago nearly did the same this past week against Vancouver.Frankly, we blame all this volatility on, yes, the Sharks. The 2006 Sharks, in fact, who won the first two games of their second-round series with eighth-seeded Edmonton and lost the next four games in hilarious succession. That act of group gaggery clearly upset the universe, as the Flyers and Penguins (twice) have done the same thing since.RELATED: Red Wings -- Sharks series schedule
In other words, four times in five years. The previous four times a team took a 2-0 lead at home and lost the series took 26 years and 65 series. In other words, something that is now a 1-in-4 shot used to be a 1-in-16 shot.And in other other words, that means that the Sharks and Red Wings enter Sundays second game knowing nothing more since the end of Fridays first game. The two teams may not be identical in form, but they are in substance, and as a result the series may as well still be tied.But check back tomorrow afternoon. Well have more theories then. They may not have any validity, but its the playoffs, and the goat must always be fed.

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