In hockey they say you are who you are. But in playoff hockey, you can look like someone else for a game or even a series or two.
Entering their Western Conference Quarterfinal series with the St. Louis Blues, the pundits echoed San Jose Sharks coach Todd McClellan in saying the Sharks' lethal power play would need to click the way it has all season for the Sharks to come out on top.
But Monday night in Game 3, instead of the second-ranked Sharks power play it was the 19th-ranked Blues power play that turned the series around. In the Sharks' 4-3 loss, the Blues scored on three of their four power play opportunities while the Sharks scored on just one of their four.
The result: The Blues now lead the series 2-1, having scored on four of their last five power plays.
Now generally speaking, things like this level off over time. If the Sharks power play is good (and it is), then it won't suddenly become their Achilles heel. If the Blues power play is truly average (and it is), they aren't going to be reeling off three power play goals in each remaining game of this series.
But the killer about short series is that small samples matter: The power play may prove to be a strength over 82 games or even 20 games -- and in Game 3 the Sharks put six shots on goal with the man advantage, the Blues five. But when the special teams fails you for a game or two, you can end up behind in a best-of-seven series.
On that note, the biggest failure of all in this series? The Sharks penalty kill, which has allowed that Blues power play to suddenly look dynamic.
And that angle has played out true to form: The Sharks PK was bad all year, ranked 29th in the NHL with a horrid 76.9 percent success rate. What they need now is a night or two of not being who they are.