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Sharks Win "Must Game" to Avoid Playoff Heartache... For Now!

by Jeff Rimer / Columbus Blue Jackets

April 21

I watched with great interest last night's game four in the San Jose/Colorado Stanley Cup Quarterfinal series wondering if the Sharks would be on the verge of yet another early exit from the playoffs. Of course it took an overtime goal by Joe Pavelski to square the series at two games apiece... thereby saving the Sharks the embarrassment of falling behind three games to one and facing elimination tomorrow night on their home ice. Boy, that would have been brutal! The Northern California faithful of the Sharks were ready to riot after game one of the series! The Avs won Game 1 and losing on home ice in game five, simply put, will be disastrous! But, I believe now, after winning last night's fourth game, and with the Colorado forwards injuries mounting, the Sharks should win the opening round series.

But, who could blame the Sharks fans having to sit through another great regular season record only to be disappointed by another early playoff exit. Just think back to Sunday night, the Sharks dominate the Avs for three periods only to lose in overtime when the reliable Dan Boyle fires the puck into his own net to give Colorado the series lead.

Last season it was the Sharks setting a franchise record during the regular season with 117 points, only to make a first round exit from the postseason, losing in six games to the Anaheim Ducks! Of course you will remember for most of the entire offseason San Jose talked about making major changes to this season's team, but for the most part it's a very similar group... save for minor tweaks including the signing of former Blue Jacket Manny Malhotra. The year before San Jose lost in round two, costing Ron Wilson his job.

In 2007, the Sharks suffered a similar fate losing in six games in round two to Detroit after holding a 2-1 series lead and a 2-1 lead in game four.

Are you seeing the pattern here? No less than six times since and including the 2002 postseason the Sharks have managed to be derailed from hopes of a Stanley Cup victory and I am convinced this season will be NO DIFFERENT! I do believe the Sharks will prevail in their opening round series with the Avalanche, but I do not envision a Stanley Cup Parade through the downtown streets of San Jose. And by the way, last night in game four the Sharks won despite NO contribution from their big three of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau or Dany Heatley. All three recorded regular season points totals of better than 80 points, but their ineffectiveness in the playoffs forced coach Todd McLellan to break them up.

All in all though most of the quarterfinal series have been quite entertaining an enjoyable. I'll be back next week with more playoff talk.

*Throughout the season, AAA will bring you the Broadcaster's Blogs - "Bobby Mac", "Davidge Dishes" and "Rimer Ramblings." The Columbus Blue Jackets radio and television analysts will try to keep you updated on all the season action through their blogs, especially when the Blue Jackets are on the road.

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