In these playoffs, the San Jose Sharks have been outscored 15 to 11 in the third period and have made a habit of giving up third period leads, the most recent being game 1 against the Vancouver Canucks. This tendency became an issue in the second round as they nearly gave up a 3-0 series lead to the Detroit Red Wings. Two of Detroit’s three victories saw the Wings overcome a third period deficit to win the game. There was an additional scare in game 7, as the Sharks almost let a two-goal third period lead slip away.

Now, after the Canucks scored two goals in the third period of game 1, there is a serious concern that the Sharks may not have the conditioning necessary to succeed in the playoffs. The reason given by some for the Sharks inability to close out games is that the Sharks simply get too tired and worn out and have nothing left for the third period.

It’s hogwash.

Yes, the Sharks have been outscored in the third period and have given up some leads. They have also been outscored in the first period, 13 to 8, but that’s not getting talked about at all. In fact, the only period in which they’ve outscored their opposition is in the second, and only by a margin of 3 goals. Well, the second period and overtime, where they have a 5-0 record, meaning they’ve outscored their opponents 5 to nothing. Their overtime record alone should erase the question of conditioning: if they’re too tired in the third period, why haven’t they been too tired in overtime?

The truth is that the Sharks have been making a living in the playoffs on the edge of a knife, with almost every game a one-goal game. 10 of the Sharks’ 14 games have been decided by just one goal. They have won 7 of those games. They have not choked in such high-pressure situations; instead, they have thrived. These are elite athletes in peak physical condition. It’s absurd to suggest that there is a problem with their conditioning.

Todd Mclellan has made it clear that he doesn’t think the Sharks’ conditioning is an issue. It isn’t an issue. Being outscored in the third period is a bit more of an issue, but the Sharks have been able to win tight games throughout the playoffs despite it. The Canucks can’t count on a collapse from the Sharks and they can’t count on the Sharks to be tired at the end of games. They’ll need to earn every win.

 

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2 comments

  1. J21
    May 19, 2011

    I think what’s happening is that Ryane Clowe is being weighted down by that extra ‘E’, which you really start to feel toward the end of a game.

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  2. caj
    May 19, 2011

    This image of them as gutless 3rd period chokers has only been furthered by last game. But I think your point stands; they unraveled as a result of one player’s shenanigans not a lack of physical or mental conditioning. The invisible Sharks players (Clowe, Heatley, Pavelski…) haven’t shown up for the first two periods, so their lack of third period effort cant really be labeled a conditioning problem (or if it is, its reached Wellwood/O’Brien proportions).

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