Previewing the next round of the playoffs, we're going to look at the Sharks and their goaltending situation. Since I already talked about Jimmy Howard at the beginning of the Phoenix series, I'm going to just focus on Nabokov for this one.
#20 / Goalie / San Jose Sharks
Jul 25, 1975
Nabokov turned in another great regular season for the Sharks, earning 44 wins (the second highest of his career) and only 16 losses in 71 games played. His goals against average was pretty high at 2.43 (a full .17 higher than Jimmy Howard) but he was luckily backed up by a team that scored plenty.
Nabokov's first round was pretty easy in terms of work load. There were 3 games in which Nabokov faced fewer than 25 shots and 2 of those he faced fewer than 20. Expect that to change as the Wings will attempt to bombard him with shots in the series.
His positives: Nabokov has great puck vision and quick pads. His glove hand is solid and he has decent rebound control. He has fairly good composure and is capable of carrying a team when needed. He keeps square to straight-on shots with good angles. He gets to the ice quick and covers the ice level well.
How to beat him: The Olympics were showcase enough of Nabokov's flaws. He was far too aggressive and the passing of the Canadian team left him well out of place. Now the Wings aren't Team Canada but they are one of the better passing teams in the league. Capitalizing on Nabokov's positioning is key for the Red Wings to have success.
Nabokov won the Calder Trophy in his first full season in the NHL and is facing a candidate for this season at the other end of the ice. Nabokov's experience is contrasted by Howard's first run in the playoffs. Howard has shown he can handle the pressure of the playoffs but the Sharks offense is a whole different beast than the Coyotes one. Same could be said for the Red Wings offense compared to the Avalanche one so each goalie will be facing a very tough task.
Check back for defense tonight, offense tomorrow.