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!
It’s time for the greatest part of the season, the Stanley Cup playoffs, to begin for the San Jose Sharks. It is a time for excitement, joy, drama, hope, and heartbreak, with hopefully not too much heartbreak for all who will immerse themselves in the best sports challenge in the world.
It’s already happened in the games played yesterday. A starting goaltender, Niklas Backstrom, was injured in warm-ups for Minnesota, and a backup struggling with health problems, Josh Harding, stepped in and held the Wild all the way into overtime before dropping Game One in Chicago. In St. Louis, the two best players on the ice were involved in the game-winning play in OT: with the L.A. Kings on the power play, goaltender Jonathan Quick displayed a characteristic flaw by misplaying the puck, and Alex Steen used his quickness to get to it and knock it into the net for another game-winner in overtime in a Blues win.
The image of Quick slamming his mask-protected head against the ice in disappointment and self-loathing is one of those that we’ll remember from Day One of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, but be aware that there are many more amazing moments to come, and not just ones involving the goaltenders.
Let’s go over the series between the San Jose Sharks and the Vancouver Canucks, and promptly throw the statistics out the window. That’s Point Number 9 in former Sharks captain Bob Errey’s “16 Points for Playoff Success,” aptly selected because of Point Number 1: It takes 16 wins to win the Stanley Cup.
|MONTREAL - 1950's: NHL Hall of Famer Doug Harvey of the Montreal Canadiens skates with the puck in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
First impressions are usually very important, so the first people that you see when you come to HP Pavilion are important people who guide you to the proper destination, provide you with the right information, and cheerfully help you each time they see you.
HP Pavilion has had a number of people man the front door, and over the past several years, two individuals have been the first people that you see when you arrive at the building. Given its hockey status, I always found it delightfully appropriate to note that one of the gentlemen’s names is Doug, and the other is Harvey.
For those who don’t make the connection, Doug Harvey was one of the greatest defensemen to play the game. He spent 13 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, three with the New York Rangers, one with Detroit, and two more with St. Louis. He won 6 Stanley Cups, all with Montreal, including 5 straight between 1955 and 1960.
Back here in San Jose, we particularly have enjoyed having Doug and Harvey greet us each day at HP Pavilion, and many of you have undoubtedly done so as well. But sadly, that HP Pavilion tradition will not continue completely, as we heard the sad news that Harvey died on March 31 at the age of 79.
HP Pavilion’s Harvey was Harvey Allen Collins, and he was a resident of Los Gatos for 40 years. He served our country during the Korean conflict and in the Army reserves and attained the rank of captain. He had a great family and a wonderful life in Silicon Valley over the last 40 years or so, and he was one of the people who made our lives a little more cheerful at HP Pavilion.
As the Sharks begin their quest for the Stanley Cup, we will continue to be happy when Doug greets us at HP Pavilion, but let us also take a moment and remember Harvey. Our condolences go to his wife Barbara and their family.
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!
With only four laps to go in the regular season race, it’s a fight to the finish for positioning with no pit stop windows open for all 30 teams in the NHL. It’s been interesting to hear the perspectives of the players and coaches as the intensity ratchets up, the margins for error get thinner, and everything comes together for the men in Teal.
Case in point number one involves the search for more offense and what needs to be improved. During our KFOX/Sharks Radio Network broadcast from Dallas, associate coach Larry Robinson said, “I personally think we can get better in our D-zone coverage when we don’t have the puck.
Offensively, I think that’s going to come, getting to the net more and that kind of stuff, but going into the playoffs, I think it’s not so much about what you do offensively, it’s more about what you do defensively, and no better example than last year, when you had two of the top defensive teams in the League going at it in the Finals, so that’s the point that we want to get to.”
It was interesting to hear that, because the Sharks have been doing a good job in defensive areas for much of the season, and have gone through stretches where they couldn’t score goals. Yet in the past few games, Robinson’s mantra of continuously focusing on improving the defensive game has brought many benefits in the other area of the ice.
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.
Here are two sidebars from last night’s great Sharks win against the Detroit Red Wings that continued the tremendous history in the series between the two clubs. Both have a somewhat predictive quality, and one is illustrative of what hockey is all about.
If you listen to the “Coach’s Chalkboard” segment with Todd McLellan on KFOX 98.5/102.1 and the San Jose Sharks Radio Network affiliate stations near you, you usually get a gem or two from the leader behind the bench. Here is a modest case in point from last night’s game:
McLellan was showing some concern about the previous loss in Columbus, but he saw the Detroit game as a chance to squash the poor memory of that disappointment. “Our opportunity that lies in front of us is a good one,” he said on the radio.
Sharks hockey hits the road today for an important four-game trip, with stops in Columbus, Detroit, Dallas, and Phoenix. It’s a well thought out trip, as the team has the flight all the way East on the first day, and works its way back to a shorter return trip home at the end of the excursion.
While the 7-game winning streak came to an end with the shootout loss against Dallas, the Sharks still are 9-0-4 in their last 13 games at HP Pavilion, and at 14-1-5, they possess the NHL’s top home record as of this writing. Now it’s time to beef up the road record, which is currently 6-10-2.
I thought I’d share a couple of thoughts that came out of the Dallas game, some of which made the radio airwaves, and some which did not:
Antti Niemi picked up an assist on the second Sharks goal that was scored by Brent Burns. It was his fourth career assist, and only his second as a Shark. His first Sharks assist came in the very first game that he played in a San Jose uniform, on October 8, 2010, at Columbus. A further check of the schedule reminds us that the word “at” really applied to both teams, as Niemi made his Sharks debut against the Blue Jackets at Ericsson Globen Arena in Stockholm, Sweden.
It’s too bad that Stars winger Lane MacDermid didn’t suit up against the Sharks, because I would have been able to note that he scored his first goal on April 3 in Anaheim. Exactly 31 years earlier, on April 3, 1982, his father Paul MacDermid scored his first NHL goal.
Well, a father and a son scoring their first NHL goal on the same day is a pretty neat nugget, but how about this? According to the Elias Sports Bureau, a father and a son had already picked up their first NHL goals on the same day once before! On November 3, 1972, Gerry O’Flaherty, now a scout, picked up his first goal while playing for the Vancouver Canucks. His father, John “Peanuts” O’Flaherty, notched his first NHL goal on November 3, 1940, while playing for the New York Americans.
Now, that’s one of the great nicknames in hockey history, and it isn’t because Peanuts was 5-7 and 145, which would certainly be diminutive today. Apparently, he got the nickname because he earned extra cash by selling peanuts at Maple Leaf Gardens!
The nickname also one-ups his other son, Bill “Flapper” O’Flaherty, who was a very successful coach at Clarkson University and later, director of player personnel for the Los Angeles Kings. I always thought that Billy received his nickname due to the way that he waved his arms in the direction of the officials when disputing calls from the Tech bench. One thing is for certain: the O’Flahertys are another example of a solid hockey family.
By the way, “Peanuts” O’Flaherty only played in 21 NHL games, scoring just 5 goals and 1 assist, all with the Americans. He played for Eddie Shore’s Springfield Indians for a couple of years, but settled in with the Pittsburgh Hornets for seven more seasons.
Anyway, it’s off to the road for the San Jose Sharks, and we’re looking forward to bringing you all the action on the radio. See you there!
The San Jose Sharks have acquired Scott Hannan from the Nashville Predators and Raffi Torres from the Phoenix Coyotes today in two important trades that help the team and have a “full circle” feeling to them.
Let me explain. Hearing those names today takes me back to one date in San Jose Sharks history. It was May 8, 2006, and HP Pavilion was rocking with Game Two of the Western Conference Semi-final round between the Sharks and the Edmonton Oilers. San Jose had the 1-0 lead in the best of seven series, and it was another tight checking, hard hitting game between two teams with little love lost on each side.
Late in the first period, the crowd was so loud that LW Nils Ekman didn’t hear the officials blow the play dead. He shot the puck into an empty net, and was promptly nailed by both Torres and goaltender Dwayne Roloson. Roloson got a penalty. Torres got nothing.
At 4:53 of the second period, a series-changing moment occurred, when Torres blasted San Jose LW Milan Michalek with a legal body check that re-taught Michalek the value of not skating through the neutral zone with one’s head down. It was the end of Michalek for the next three games, and it was a moment that allowed the Oilers to maintain a swagger.
Later in the second stanza, Patrick Rissmiller and Josh Gorges took penalties just 19 seconds apart, giving the Oilers a 5-on-3 skating advantage. During that situation, San Jose put Mark Smith, Kyle McLaren, and Scott Hannan on the ice. The Oilers put the pressure on. Two players broke their sticks. McLaren ended up with the only stick.
Hannan capped the sequence by batting the puck out of the zone with his glove, and HP Pavilion’s decibel count raised to one of its highest levels in history.
You can hear the KFOX/Sharks Radio Network call of the action here.
What have the Sharks picked up today? All you have to do to find out is go back to May 8, 2006. You’ll find a physical winger that gets under the skin of his opponents and can make series-changing plays. You’ll also find a veteran defenseman that figures out a way to keep the puck away from his goaltender, often under the highest level of pressure.
That pretty much sums things up on this Trade Deadline Day. See you on the radio!
It’s always such a pleasure to call the action when the San Jose Sharks face the Detroit Red Wings. The style of hockey that is played is, all at once, fast, hard skating, thrilling, and clean. It brings back memories of some great Sharks triumphs along with some bitter Sharks disappointments, but it really sets the tone for the way that professional hockey ought to be played.
When the Sharks last faced the Red Wings in the 2011 playoffs, all of hockey got more of the same. That series was the finest of all of the series played that season, with the possible exception of the seven-game Final series between Vancouver and Boston.
Last night, at HP Pavilion, another awesome game was played between these two long-time rivals, and the Sharks captured the victory, 2-0. Antti Niemi was outstanding in net, but it took contributions from everyone working together in order to get to the desired result.
You have to tip your hat to the Red Wings for putting together a solid effort of their own that was typical of their history. In fact, one of the more spectacular individual moments in the game occurred when Pavel Datsyuk performed some magic in a one-on-one situation with Logan Couture. Check the evidence here, from the point of view of the Detroit telecast:
Logan Couture is one of the most competitive and talented players on the Sharks roster, so when you watch what Datsyuk did, you see why he has to be one of the truly best players in the game. Couture, by the way, had an excellent night in all three zones, and celebrated his 24th birthday in style with the Sharks win.
Let the homestand continue!