Day 99. Game 48. Hard to believe but the last day of the regular season is upon us.
What a grind for the players, coaches and trainers - 1 NHL game every 2.06 days. Throw in travel and that is a lot of hockey and an incredibly demanding schedule both mentally and physically.
A short demanding season has been volatile with wild swings for almost every team in the NHL. Here is a snapshot of the roller coaster the Sharks just endured:
The Start - January 20 to February 9
11 Games in 21 days
Overall 7-2-2 (5 ROW's)
Home 5-1-2 (3)
Away 2-1-0 (2)
The Grind - February 11 to March 25
20 Games, 15 of them on the road in 43 days
Overall 7-9-4 (4)
Home 3-0-2 (2)
Away 4-9-2 (2)
The Push - March 27 to April 27
17 Games in 32 days (game 17 tonight vs LA)
Overall 11-4-1 (8) does not include game vs LA
Home 9-1-1 (7)
Road 2-3-0 (1)
The Start and Push were enough to offset the Grind so the Sharks could participate in the next season, the PLAYOFFS!
Who will the Sharks face in the Stanley Cup playoffs? Who do they want to face in the Stanley Cup playoffs? Let’s look at that moving target as of this moment, go through the possibilities, and decide.
As of this moment, the Western Conference field is not set. There are nine teams playing for eight spots. The Minnesota Wild can clinch a spot and eliminate Columbus if they win tonight against Edmonton in any fashion, and if that doesn’t happen, they’ll have another chance at Colorado on Saturday.
Detroit can get into the playoffs for the 22nd consecutive season if they get one point in their season finale against Dallas.
Columbus can get in if they win their last game against Nashville, but only if the Red Wings lose in regulation to Dallas. Then, the final team, either Minnesota or Detroit, would be determined by the outcomes of the last two Minnesota games. Detroit would need a lot of help to make it in that situation.
Has your head exploded yet?
Now, let’s look at the possible opponents, and render a decision as to which one you want to play.
The Sharks can still finish fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh in the Western Conference. Their potential opponents could be: Anaheim, Vancouver, St. Louis, or Los Angeles.
ST. LOUIS: It could be a setup to avenge last season’s WCQF defeat, but it would also involve the most travel for San Jose in the first round. St. Louis is a good sports town, and the Sharks have faced St. Louis four times in the playoffs, so there’s a longstanding rivalry there.
VANCOUVER: Another opportunity to avenge a stinging playoff defeat, this time the WCF round in 2011. Vancouver is a great city with passionate fans. It isn’t a long flight to VAN, either. It would be a great series.
LOS ANGELES and ANAHEIM: No explanation is really necessary, is it? These are the two big geographical rivals for the Sharks, it’s an easier travel situation, and either series would be a classic. The Sharks would get the chance to either knock out the defending Stanley Cup champions or would have a chance to avenge a bitterly disappointing playoff loss in 2009.
FINAL VERDICT: The Sharks want to finish the season with a winning note on the road, and that would give them their only chance to capture home ice with a fourth seed. But as to the opponent or the seeding, it really doesn’t matter. Let’s remember the lesson from last year, when the eighth-seeded Kings steamrolled through everyone to win the Stanley Cup. In the final analysis, winning the Stanley Cup is the only thing that matters, regardless of playoff seeding or opponent.
See you on the radio on Saturday in Los Angeles, and find out how it all turns out!
I received a curious envelope in the mail the other day. You know the kind where you don't recognize who or where it's from but you know it's important.
It was from a rental car company in Edmonton where I rented a vehicle on the Sharks last road trip to the Alberta capital. It seems that I was caught speeding, by a traffic camera. As you can see, the notice doesn't indicate how fast I was traveling.
I don't dispute that I was probably over the limit. As I recall "the great" Drew Remenda was in the car with me and we were almost certainly distracted breaking down the Sharks power play breakout. But when I took a closer look at the ticket, I was floored.
I was speeding on Wayne Gretzky Drive and my ticket was for 99 dollars. Either that's a planned thing so people don't feel so bad about paying the fine or its one of the greatest coincidences ever! Either way, for the first time in my life, I'm framing my speeding ticket.
I'm Randy Hahn.
I remember how loud you were when we played the first ever playoff game at The Shark Tank.
I remember how loud you were when we played game 3 against Toronto, the first home game after defeating Detroit in game 7 and splitting the first 2 games in Toronto.
I remember how loud you were during the incredible 5-3 against vs Edmonton back in the 2005 playoffs.
I remember how you came back after this latest lockout.
I remember how loud you were just last week when the Sharks and Kings battled it out.
And I know how loud you will be come the 2013 NHL Playoffs.
Sharks fans, you are part of the memories for every player that has played for the Sharks or against them at HP Pavilion.
Today is your day; FAN APPRECIATION DAY.
Thank you for your loyalty and for being so loud ..... and awesome!!!
You're the Best
A painful but necessary part of my job is to listen to a replay of our broadcasts and self critique my performance.
I learned this from my season at Hockey Night In Canada. A few times that season I sat with our Executive Producer and we went over every second of a game and honestly, bluntly reviewed my work.
To add even more clarity, Hockey Night had printed transcripts of every word I said during the game.
After reading the transcripts I was sure that I had no business behind a microphone explaining anything to anybody.
Anyway after listening to the last couple of broadcasts on Comcast Sportsnet, I'm using this Great White Bite to announce that I'm turning over a new leaf.
I'm going to stop complaining about the refs and their calls or lack of calls.
I go from analyst to whining in a split second. I get distracted and emotional and it's bad TV.
I will still hate some of the calls and you will know I hate the blown calls because of what all of our Mom's once told us.
" If you can't say anything nice about someone then don't say anything at all."
We’ve all seen the popular “This is Sharks Territory” signs. So just where exactly do you suppose Sharks Territory is?
It used to be that you could draw a large circle on a map around HP Pavilion, toss in San Mateo and parts of Alameda county, and that was pretty much Sharks Territory. Not anymore.
As the race to the Stanley Cup Playoffs escalates NBC Sports Network and the NHL Network are picking up our Sharks telecasts and distributing them nationally. Combine this “wide” coverage with the ability to view games on the Internet and you get a whole different idea of where Sharks fans live.
Thursday night during the Sharks 6-1 win over Minnesota I got Twitter messages from viewers in Des Moines (Iowa), Prince Edward Island, Guadalajara (Mexico), Charleston (South Carolina), Fresno, Las Vegas, Lindsay (Texas), Bellingham (Washington), Omaha, Kamloops (British Columbia), Brazil, Montreal, Chico, Newfoundland, Finland and Bali!
As you can see, Sharks fans can literally be found all over the globe. It’s a blast to be connected to so many of you through our telecasts and the web. And the way the hockey team is playing at this important time of the season, life in Sharks Territory is pretty good.
I’m Randy Hahn
Three Wise Men have spoken recently and their comments are very interesting.
Head Coach Todd McLellan - after his team defeated the LA Kings on April 16.
"The most important recognition of character is from within the locker room. What they think of each other and how they compete."
Assistant Coach Larry Robinson - what the team needs to improve on while having the 27th best offense and 6th best defense in the league.
"We need to tighten up defensively, especially in the defensive zone".
Assistant Coach Jim Johnson - on explaining what it means to play simple, or have a simple game.
"Take risk out of critical area decisions."
I suggest you read those again and absorb them, because they are tremendous quotes from some wise hockey men who know what they are talking about.
Brent Burns played Colin Kaepernick hockey against the Los Angeles Kings yesterday, and in a 42 second span, he scored a goal and assisted on another by TJ Galiardi. He played the point on the power play. He is, in a way, returning the era of the “rover” to today’s NHL without the too-many-men-on-the-ice call.
Raffi Torres showed a nifty move in the shootout to pick up the game-deciding goal. He provided a much-needed presence all over the ice.
Antti Niemi had a spectacular night in goal, making many spectacular saves. One of his best was against Mike Richards during a 5-on-3 penalty killing sequence that was a heart-stopping, thrilling moment.
On the other side of the ice, the Kings gave it their all as well. After Niemi’s great save on Richards and the first penalty to Galiardi ended, Jake Muzzin perfectly placed a shot from the point through traffic and got the Kings on the board. Then, on a play where a penalty was to be called against San Jose, Anze Kopitar got the shot away, and Dustin Brown was able to will the rebound into the net to tie the score.
Let’s not forget Jonathan Quick, either. He had some spectacular saves down the stretch, including an amazing span midway through the third period off Tommy Wingels and Raffi Torres following a turnover.
It was a classic regular season game, one of the better ones that we’ve seen in the past few years, and it was punctuated by the fact that the Sharks were the team that had played and traveled the night before. It makes everyone look forward to the next game, and the next one after that, and that goes for Kings fans, too, who undoubtedly have circled the season finale on April 27th at Staples Center as a rendezvous point for their return barrage.
I witnessed a very cool event last night after the Sharks beat the Coyotes 4-0. I was broadcasting the game between the benches and found the game puck on the boards as the Sharks filed off the ice. There was a handful of Sharks fans, many of them children still in the stands patting the boys on the back for a job well done.
Well I grabbed the game puck and gave it to the first young Sharks fan I saw. He was probably 8 or 9 years old and very polite thanking me for the puck.
Another much younger fan probably 5 years old asked if he could have a puck as well.
I apologized saying that was the only one I had.
The young man I gave the puck to said. " Would you like a puck? You can have this one."
The smile on the both their faces just struck me.
A simple random act of kindness can inject a little faith in a jaded heart.
“The Sharks game tonight is huge!”
Get used to hearing that a lot between now and the end on the regular season April 27th. The Sharks have seven games remaining in this shortened 48 game NHL regular season. None of their remaining opponents have clinched a playoff spot yet, and none have been eliminated from contention. And oh yes, throw the Sharks into that group as well.
Tonight the Sharks visit the Phoenix Coyotes. It’s an especially crucial game for the Desert Dogs. Phoenix has 43 points, 4 points behind the 8th place Detroit Red Wings. After tonight the Coyotes have to travel to St. Louis, Chicago and Detroit. They absolutely cannot afford to slip up at home.
The Sharks path to the playoffs is simple. They just need to get to 54 or 55 points and they’ll be in. That means they need to win 3-4 of their remaining games and the more they win against teams behind them, like Phoenix, the better. With the LA Kings already in San Jose waiting to take on the Sharks Tuesday night at HP Pavilion, a win here in the desert tonight would be a big step toward cementing their post season position.
Like I said, the Sharks game tonight is huge!
I’m Randy Hahn