By Ryan Ward | @RyanJWard
Four games into a best-of-seven postseason series, a Bay Area team finds themselves in a deep hole against an opponent that has overmatched them, facing insurmountable odds that suggest a comeback is next to impossible. Sound familiar?
It should. The above statement would have applied as recently as two weeks ago, when our beloved and resurgent Golden State Warriors were all but dead in their Western Conference Finals matchup against the OKC Thunder, down 3-1 after two straight miserable defeats and the weight of a larger-than-life 73-win season pressing down on them. And where are they now, a short 14 days later? Well, in case you’ve been living under a rock, things are looking a bit up for the Dubs, and the Sharks should draw from that as they take on a seemingly impossible comeback climb. The Sharks head back east to face the Penguins in Pittsburgh, down 3-1 in their best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final series after falling 3-1 in game 4 at The Tank, and it’s time to draw from the deep well of hope and optimism.
It was more of the same for the Sharks in Game 4, as they went down 1-0 for the 4th straight game and were again sent chasing the Penguins for nearly 60 minutes. In fact, the Sharks have not led for a single minute in this series, their only win being in overtime of Game 3. At this point, it's hard to foresee a scenario where they win one or more of the remaining games unless they can fix that issue and take control of the play against Pittsburgh.
The magic formula for a turnaround might be simpler than Sharks’ critics believe, however. Looking back two weeks, the message from the Warriors’ after falling behind 3-1 to the Thunder was that of “we know who we are and what we’re capable of,” and commentary along the lines of “we know we can fix this and what we have to do to win.” In other words, it was their deep confidence that allowed them to stay loose, play their game, and eventually prevail. Although the Sharks did not have as dominant and decorated a regular season as their companions up Interstate 880, they know that their roster is full of capable goal scorers, stick-handlers, penalty killers, and overall winners who can take their destiny into their own hands and win three straight games. No, it’s not the same battle the Warriors fought - the Sharks must play Game 5 and a potential Game 7 on the road - but after going 28-10-3 away from home, the confidence should remain.
Of course, it may be too deep of a hole and the Sharks may have missed the best opportunity in franchise history to bring the Stanley Cup home to San Jose. But then again, maybe this is just another page in the final chapter of a remarkable season...and two weeks from now, we might all be saying, “Remember when the Sharks were down 3-1? Yeah, me neither.”