Monday, April 20, 2009

Shark Bitten: Can San Jose Really Choke Again?

The "home ice advantage" in the NHL is a joke. It always has been just because it is the nature of the game. Still, you'd think that a team that has held on to the top regular season record could find a way to quickly dispose of their first round opponent.

The top seeded San Jose Sharks find themselves down 2-0 in their series with the Anaheim Ducks. Both losses came at the HP Pavilion in San Jose.

This was a series targeted by many hockey experts as a possible upset. The Ducks are just two years removed for a Stanley Cup championship while the Sharks have been notorious choke artists in the postseason.

Last year, the second-seeded Sharks lost to No. 4 Dallas in the second round. This was after the Sharks survived a 7-game series with Calgary. In 2007, the also lost in the second round ... but this time they were the underdogs against Detroit. In the 2006 playoffs, the West saw all four underdog seeds win in the first round. That meant that the No. 5 Sharks were the conference's top remaining seed. They promptly were beaten by the 8th-seeded Edmonton Oilers. In 2004, the No. 2 Sharks lost in the Western Conference Finals to No. 6 Calgary.

All this playoff heartbreak is funny when you think that in the Sharks first ever playoff series, they shocked the top-seeded Detroit Red Wings in 7 games. Now the Sharks are facing the same embarrassing level of defeat.

Of course ... as I mentioned above ... home ice advantage means squat. The same way that the Ducks went up the coast to smack the Sharks twice, San Jose can do the same in Anaheim. Still, there is a gorilla sitting on San Jose's back.

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