- and it represents Joe Thorton's second to last chance to avoid the "playoff choker" handle that keeps getting whispered around the league. Obviously, if the Sharks lose tonight, he has a fresh season to silence the critics without the distraction of being the centerpiece of the most lopsided trade of the year. But if he chokes tonight, the whispers will continue.
As a long time Bruins fan, I think one of two things will happen tonight.
1) Joe will come through with at least a three point performance, including at least one goal and the Sharks will win in overtime, I'm going to say by a final score of 4-3. Nils Ekman will get the game winner.
2) Joe gets frustrated, gets 2 points but takes at least one REALLY stupid penalty and the Sharks lose.
The key to the game is the penalties, and the team that can stay out of the box and play disciplined is going to win this game. By the way, I'm including playing smart on the power play, as a shorthanded goal could be the difference here. I've watched Joe Thornton a lot over the past 5 years, and I can tell you- if he keeps his temper and does what he does, good things will happen. If he doesn't- well, remember, this is a guy who got thrown out of his return to Boston in the first two minutes for a high hit on one of his best friends, Hal Gill. When he gets emotional, he gets out of control.
While I'm at it, as a longtime Bruins fan, I also have the following predictions:
-Sergei Samnsov will speed into the zone, make your jaw drop with some fantastic stickhandling, and then fall down and slide into the corner. He also will sit on the bench chewing on his mouthguard like a tiny Russian cow.
-After an exhausting shift, Kyle Mclaren (San Jose's D-man with the yellow visor) will sit on the bench vigorously mouth-breathing. All of a sudden, a wierd spasm will cause his head to jerk down from his neck like a pez dispenser on electroshock. It's like part sneeze, part snort. Seriously, watch for it- he does that. Me and my buddy Duben used to have a killer impression of it.
But let's hope that the Sharks pull through- we've only had one game seven this whole playoffs, and it was a stinker of a no-show by the Calgary Flames. This has been a great series, and I'd like to see it go the distance.