Between Game 3 and Game 4 I saw what I think is dedication to a dream personified.
It was at practice. The players had finished their skate or dry land training and the various interviews.
Some were leaving and some were enjoying lunch.
The ink stained scribes and digital media types had finished interrogating Todd McLellan and had scurried upstairs to post their stories.
Everything was winding down and it's a time to tell stories, listen to jokes or just head out and get on with your day.
Which is exactly what I decided to do. Usually I will skedaddle out the back door but I had parked my car at the side of the rink and decided to take a shortcut past the ice surface.
Then I saw it. Braken Kearns all by himself working on his skating. He was performing techniques designed to improve and perfect his edge control.
The drills are tedious and take a full load of concentration and muscle control. It is not a common site to see a professional hockey player performing those drills. Especially during the playoffs and when that player is 31 years old.
But then I thought about it.
Here Braken is. A good hour after everybody had left the ice surface trying to get better.
Trying to gain the edge, (both literally and figuratively). Never giving up on the dream.
I found that inspiring and very cool and it makes me cheer for him that much more.
Well that was FUN!
What a night at HP Pavilion as the Sharks carried a lead into the 3rd period, then found themselves trailing after 2 Vancouver goals before tying it up late in the 3rd and then winning the game in overtime. If that scenario sounds familiar it is because that's what happened in game 2. This time it was Patrick Marleau as the hero that sent the Sharks fans into a frenzy.
The Sharks are now 19-2-5 this season at HP Pavilion and based on some of the tweets after the game by Logan Couture and Brent Burns I would say the Sharks players are picking up and using the energy from their great fans.
@logancouture "Just want to give a huge shout out to the fans. You guys were our energy in the third and in OT. See you in Round 2. Stay Loud!"
@Burnzie88 "Tank was Great tonight .. Lots of legs And energy from you guys. #chompersigns"
@Burnzie88 "Thanks for everyone at tonight's game .. Tank was shaking!! #unbelievable #bestfans"
Sharks fans, thank you for being so awesome.
While the San Jose Sharks have held a 3-games-to-0 lead in a best-of-seven series a total of four times, tonight’s Game Four is the first time that the team has the opportunity to close out a series at home. If they capture the series, it’ll be the first time that they have ever have a clean sweep in a playoff round.
An April 28, 2004 in Denver, San Jose put Evgeni Nabokov in goal against David Aebischer of the Avalanche. Both goaltenders duked it out to a scoreless tie after 60 minutes, with Nabokov stopping 30 shots and Aebischer making 26 saves. In overtime, Joe Sakic notched the game winner at 5:15, ending a 178:14 span of shutout hockey for Nabokov. The Sharks would eventually win that series, 4 games to 2.
On May 6, 2010, the Sharks traveled to Joe Louis Arena with a 3-0 series lead. In that game, Johan “The Mule” Franzen was the big story, as he scored 4 goals in a 7-1 Red Wings win that would be Detroit’s last hurrah in the series. The Sharks took Game 5 back at HP Pavilion, 2-1, with Patrick Marleau scoring the series winning goal.
On May 6, 2011, exactly one year later, the Sharks were back at the Joe for another chance at a sweep. Detroit jumped out to a 3-0 lead (2 goals by Nicklas Lidstrom), but the Sharks evened the score, 3-3, when Logan Couture, Dan Boyle, and Dany Heatley scored for San Jose.
That game ended with just 1:27 to play in the third when Darren Helm scored the game winner for the Red Wings, and it took the Sharks the full seven games to earn a victory, with Game Seven’s win coming at HP Pavilion in a classic game won by the Sharks, 3-2. Oh, by the way, Patrick Marleau had the series winning goal.
What does this history have to do with this season’s Game Four scenario against Vancouver? Not a lot. However, it does tell us that just showing up for Game Four guarantees nothing but the best effort from the team that is down, 0-3. The Sharks expect nothing less, they’re prepared, and they’re excited about the opportunity. Most importantly, they’re at home.
See you on the radio!
I, (like you) love the playoffs. The first round may be the best sports theatre you will ever see.
Some postseason highlights so far:
First and foremost -- Logan Couture takes a cheap shot from the Vancouver Canucks captain in Game 3. Roughly twenty seconds Logan snipes a beauty wrister past Cory Schneider for his second goal of the game. The best part of the goal was the Couture "Cele". The arm swing, the emotion and catching the gaze of Henrik coming out of the box was beautiful!
Raffi Torres and Brent Burns in overtime of Game 2. Never have two guys with more tattoos scored a bigger goal for the Sharks.
Lets jump to the Eastern Conference:
Douglas Murray scored! Enough said. Except he did it against a good friend and former teammate Evgeni Nabokov.
However the most compelling bit of human drama is coming out of the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens.
In Game 1 a good Saskatoon boy, Eric Gryba, absolutely destroys Lars Eller with a gigantic hit. Eller is hurt, Gryba is suspended for two and the Senators head coach after the game infuriates anybody with any Montreal allegiance with his comments.
The Senators Coach basically blames the Montreal Canadiens Raphael Diaz for the devastating hit because of his bad pass to Lars Eller.
What really upset the Montreal faithful including their head coach, Michel Therrien, was Paul MacLean referring to Diaz as simply "Number 61."
Brandon Prust from the Canadiens publicly called MacLean "a bug-eyed fat walrus".
MacLean responded with his usual humour.
"Well ... 'Bug-Eyed?' I've never been called that before. That's a new one," said MacLean. "Walrus? That's too easy. But I will tell you one thing I'm not fat. I might be husky but I'm not fat. So, I took offense to that."
Then in Game 3 it was a Kook Show. 236 minutes in penalties and the Senators won 6-1. But, with 17 seconds remaining in the game, Paul MacLean called a time out.
The Canadiens were livid. The usually very level-headed Josh Gorges verbally attacked the Sen's coach. If you have been around hockey or can read lips in the slightest you know Josh was definitely rated "M" for Mature.
Michel Therrien called it "classless".
Probably the Montreal head coach is right, but right now Paul MacLean has the Canadiens thinking about him instead of the games.
... I love it all.
The intensity, the nastiness, the theatre, the emotion and human drama. Never mind my birthday or Thanksgiving or Christmas.
The NHL playoffs? It's the most wonderful time of the year.
The Sharks are off to a great start in these playoffs. A win tonight in game 3 against Vancouver would put them in a 3-0 series lead. But there’s a long way to go and just like in the regular season there are going to be lots of ups and downs. At this time of the year it’s always good to revisit Bob Errey’s 16 tips to Stanley Cup playoff success.
Bob Errey, who is now a TV commentator for Pittsburgh, was a Stanley Cup winner with the Penguins as a player and was also captain of the Sharks in 1994 when they were matched up against the mighty Detroit Red Wings in the first round. Errey decided to write down his 16 points for playoff success.
1. It takes 16 WINS to win the Stanley Cup
2. 4 Wins per series
3. Never dwell on the past (good, bad, win, lose)
4. Never take anything for granted
5. One shift is as important as 20
9. Throw statistics out the window
11. Play bigger
12. Never retaliate
13. Get pucks out, get pucks in
14. Never out of a game (ie. high sticking major = 5 minute PP)
15. Have fun
16. Heart is more important than skill
My thoughts on game 2 ...
Well that was fun!
Who woulda thunk it!
So Brent Burns the forward sets up Raffi Torres for the OT goal. The same Raffi Torres who was on teams that derailed the Sharks chances in years past of getting to and winning the Stanley Cup. He played for the Oilers when they lost in game 7 of the Cup Finals to Carolina and beat the Sharks 4 games to 2 in the second round. He also was on Vancouver when they lost in game 7 of the Cup Finals to Boston after knocking out the Sharks in the Western Conference Finals. Ya, that Raffi Torres!
And now he is a Shark and trying to get back to the Cup Finals for a 3rd time and help the Sharks get there for the first time. You gotta love sports eh!!!
Dan Boyle attempted a pass from the corner in the defensive zone to Joe Pavelski who was in the slot area. The pass was just off and landed right on Ryan Kesler's stick who had time to tee it up and boy did he ever ... firing a bullet past Niemi to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead at the time.
On Marleau's game tying goal in the last minute there were two assists - yup, Boyle and Pavelski.
Weeble's wabble but they don't fall down
Justin Braun is clearly not a weeble because he took a few monster hits to make plays but kept getting up. Brauner's fall but they don't stay down!!!
How good was Nemo, especially in the 2nd period and OT ... I think awesome is an appropriate choice of words.
Tommy Wingels continues to play gritty hockey as he led the team with 8 hits and also added 5 shots.
Need I say more?
Love the city but that doesn't mean I want to go back
Vancouver is beautiful, especially at this time of year and the people in the city are great. I love going to that city but my preference is to not return for awhile.
Game 3 Reminder
Don't forget it starts at 7pm on Sunday and I don't have to tell you to be loud but let's really welcome our Northern neighbors with the loudest building in the NHL.
Often, the conventional wisdom is that the odd numbered games of series are the most important, and in general, it does hold true that Games 1, 3, 5, and 7 hold the greatest opportunity to seize control or change momentum of a series. But, in many cases, it is Game 2 that is the most pivotal.
In 1979, the New York Rangers took a 4-1 victory from the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. It appeared that the Rangers were going to end Montreal’s reign of three straight Stanley Cup championships, and that all odds were in their favor to cruise to victory. But, a funny thing happened on the way to the start of Game 2 that changed everything.
Canadiens coach Scotty Bowman had pulled his starting goaltender, Ken Dryden, in favor of Bunny Larocque in Game 1 when the contest needed a momentum shift. Larocque was slated to start in Game 2 as well.
But like Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom this past week, Larocque was injured in warm-ups, and so Bowman’s original plan to go with him had to yield back to the original plan of going with Dryden. The result? Montreal won 6-2, then 4-1, then 4-3 in OT, then 4-1. The Canadiens won their fourth straight Stanley Cup, and the Rangers visions of sugar plums were dashed from their heads.
Last season, the Sharks also won Game 1 in St. Louis. Down 1-0 in Game 2, they lost a faceoff in the offensive zone, about 190 feet away from their net. The Blues were able to work the puck up the ice and take advantage of key slips in the attention to detail needed for victory. T.J. Oshie put forth a brilliant effort on the right wing boards, and David Backes found the puck on his stick for a huge goal to give the Blues a 2-0 lead.
Coach Ken Hitchcock and the Blues had their game plan rewarded at a critical tipping point of the series. They won that Game Two, 3-0, and took the series with wins of 4-3, 2-1, and 3-1.
The scores were tight, but the tipping point was also in Game Two, not necessarily because of the fact that St. Louis won the game, but because of what they proved to themselves about the mettle of their team in that particular playoff series.
This year, against Vancouver, the Sharks did a terrific job in Game One. They need to remain focused on each and every important detail of winning, so that Game Two can be a pivotal strike in their favor. No detail is too small to be focused on in this one.
Of course, the second win in a series is more difficult than the first. Vancouver is going to be ready. They’re talented and well-prepared.
It’s going to be a great game. See you on the radio!
Game one was an outstanding display of playoff hockey. The Sharks started out very well playing a strong road first period.
The Canucks responded with a great, very physical second period. They tried to run the Sharks out of the game.
The Sharks bent but certainly won the test of will in the third period.
As we concluded last nights broadcast I remarked to the Great Randy Hahn that in Shark wins we end up talking about many if not all of the team for making an impact on the game.
Game One was no different. I was impressed with the collective effort. However talking to some of the other media and respected hockey folk after the game here is a sampling of some positive comments.
All anonymous because at the time they didn't know I would quote them in the world famous Great White Bite.
"You know who I really liked? Wingels, does he always play like that?"
"Boy, Desjardins got the chance to play, he really took the opportunity. He had to play and was really good."
"Brad Stuart just knows how to play in the playoffs."
"When's the last time the Sharks had a player like Raffi Torres?" He was on a mission."
"Logan Couture is...so smart"
Note: There were quite a few pro Logan comments.
"Joe's (Thornton) line got the game back for you guys."
Note: He was right. Joe, TJ and Brent Burns played some good old fashioned straight ahead hockey.
It's always enlightening listening to other people offer their opinions on a game we just watched.
We all see the game differently.
However after the game last night it was hard to decide if there were more BIG Shark performances or more opinions about them.
So why exactly is this the best time of the year for NHL hockey fans?
The Stanley Cup Playoffs began last night with 3 Western Conference games. Two of the games went to overtime and the third wasn’t over until a Seeing Eye empty net goal by Anaheim’s Francois Beauchemin.
All three games were low scoring but tough and intense.
Fourth line tough guy Brian Bickell scored the OT winner for Chicago over Minnesota. It was the second time he’s done it in the playoffs. He’s never scored an OT winner in the regular season. Has he ever been on the ice in overtime in the regular season?
LA Kings goalie Jonathan Quick playes brilliantly for virtually the entire game in St. Louis and then committed the gaffe of all gaffes in OT when he mishandled the puck behind his net in overtime allowing Alex Steen to score the shorthanded game winner. I didn’t see that coming.
Minnesota’s #1 goalie Niklas Backstrom is injured in warm-up’s forcing backup Josh Harding to start the game in Chicago. Harding who suffers from multiple sclerosis hadn’t started a game since January 30th. He was terrific with 35 saves.
And then there’s Teemu Selanne. At 42, Selanne is the oldest active player in the league. He showed his stuff last night for the Ducks scoring his 11th career GWG in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
And that was all just on opening night!
Tonight, the Sharks and Canucks get to write their story line as they kick off their best of seven series in Canada.
It’s the best time of the year for NHL hockey fans because…..it is.
I’m Randy Hahn
I don't think teams need a rallying point when trying to win the Stanley Cup. We've seen it in the past, Ray Bourque for instance, and it made for a wonderful story, but just winning the coveted trophy is a rallying point in itself because it's so hard to win.
The Sharks road to the Cup starts tomorrow night in Vancouver. Who knows what is going to happen because there are are so many good teams in the West. Someone from the West will be alive in 6 weeks and they will likely have the opportunity and challenge of beating the Pittsburgh Penguins.
As for the Sharks, the focus is solely on Vancouver right now. But I think it would be remiss not to bring up someone who has meant so much to this organization and won't be around for the first time ever to watch the playoffs. That person is George Gund III.
Mr. Gund passed away on January 15 of this year. His passion, vision, and fortitude was instrumental in bringing the Sharks to San Jose. But most of all it was his passion ... passion for hockey.
Winning the Stanley Cup takes passion and lots of it. I don't see it as a rallying cry, but as we embark on the 2013 playoffs I know the spirit of Mr. Gund is watching over this team and it would be very cool to...
"win it for George"
Enjoy the playoffs, there is nothing like it in sports.