No Red Lights: Hockey: Because Experience Does Count (despite what I used to think as a Freshman) - Goalie News And Instruction By Roxanne Gaudiel

Because Experience Does Count (despite what I used to think as a Freshman)

If anyone says that experience doesn't count, just look at the Red Wings. Of the remaining teams, they have the most collective playoff experience on a pound per pound basis, and they are knocking the life out of the Sharks.  Kind of like my favorite, the Lightning, they don't really play scared. When they are down, they aren't playing more timid rather they become extremelly opportunistic. There was a fabulous run-and-gun section of game 6 which was fun to watch. I'm not sure if the Wings were just a sleeping giant or a bit banged up from the season (with Datsyuk and some of their elder players working through some injuries), but they have certainly found their playoff legs. Personally, I don't care for Detroit, but I am always excited to see a game 7. Or a budding young goalie succeed.

I forget where I first heard of Jim Howard. I think it was with the US Development program, which has spawned the likes of Ryan Suter and others I can't remember right now.  That was an impressive team which had a few big tournament wins and began to put the US back in the world-junior spotlight. as he was working up the system. While tournament success does not always translate into immediate NHL success (see Pogue or to a lesser degree Bernier), I find it is always an indicator of a good player. For example, Neuvirth (AHL Championship), Zack Parise (WHCA Championship),  and the poster-boy Chris Drury. Winning breeds winners (except maybe Charlie Sheen - hopefully there's no more breeding there). Basically, I am just not shocked that Howard has had a good year and is playing well. He has a great team in front of him (which makes things easier), he's shown resiliance, and he's technically very solid.

Niemi has also displayed a playoff composure, which the Sharks traded for back in the off-season. Now, I'm sure there are many nay-sayers out there, but hear me out. After giving up two games to get to game 6, I'm surprised he didn't fall apart completely. He's given his team a chance to win every game (especially if you look at the first two periods of each game). While last night's game was not necessarily Niemi's fault - although it could have been! the Wings missed 2-3 open net goals - he made big saves when he had to, caught some lucky breaks to keep it even, and played solid for the majority of the game. Pretty much played the way you want your goalie to during the playoffs. The Sharks just need to find a way to generate some offense and beat Howard. And they really need to get over their playoff stigma. Ever since their first playoff run (their innaugural year, I believe) , they have had a tough time advancing past the semi's even though they are tops in their division/conference.

I think in game 7, the Sharks make it out alive. Barely. They figure out how to score and catch some lucky breaks along the way.