Dan's View from Center Ice - 4/25/2012

Wednesday, 04.25.2012 / 11:20 AM PT
By Dan Rusanowsky - Sharks Broadcaster / The Daily Chomp
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The Daily Chomp
Dan\'s View from Center Ice - 4\/25\/2012

It was all over, on a Saturday night in St. Louis, and it wasn’t in the script that the San Jose Sharks had written for themselves. They were shaking hands with the St. Louis Blues, after losing the Western Conference Quarterfinal round to the team that had nearly captured the Presidents’ Trophy during the regular season.

It was all over in a blink of an eye, a five-sentence paragraph that ended with an empty-net exclamation point from Andy McDonald, the speedy forward who was such a dominant thorn in the side of the San Jose Sharks for an entire playoff series. A second exclamation point was added by the subsequent explosion of the capacity crowd at Scottrade Center and so ended the San Jose’s quest for the 2012 Stanley Cup championship.

Without question, the early playoff exit brings back the memory of the spring of 2009 when San Jose was eliminated in the first round by the Anaheim Ducks in six games. Let’s not forget that after reevaluating that disappointment, the Sharks made two long runs to the Western Conference Final and were definitive Stanley Cup challengers.

After the too-quick ending this spring, the team will evaluate and will take a positive step forward again, with only the Stanley Cup on their minds. This condition is not unique to the Sharks. It is also happening in cities like Vancouver, Detroit, Chicago, and Pittsburgh, and depending on how Game Seven turns out in New York and in Boston, more cities could be added to the list.

For the first time since 2006, the playoff race is absolutely wide open, which is very exciting for hockey, but it is also a missed opportunity for the Men in Teal. At Sharks Ice at San Jose on Tuesday, players, coaches and management had a final team meeting, somberly cleared out their lockers, and met with the media. They didn’t want to be there, of course, even though it was clear that many exciting things occurred during the journey that led to this day.

For now, the focus will be on statistics like the Sharks special teams numbers in the playoffs (11.8% PP and 66.7% PK), compared with a 21.1% PP (2nd in NHL) and 76.9% PK (29th in NHL) in the regular season. There will be notice of a 12-0-3 regular season record when leading on the road after two periods, juxtaposed with a 1-0 second intermission lead in Game Five followed by a St. Louis win. There will be memories of a pivotal second goal against in Game Two of the series, when the Blues were rewarded for executing their game plan to perfection, after which the Sharks were not able to plant any seeds of doubt in the St. Louis locker room.

During the season, there were ten new players who skated in a Sharks uniform, and there will be new additions with some subtractions next year as is always the case. There were injuries, strange bounces of the puck, a couple of goaltending mishaps and a number of other things that did not go the team’s way. It was certainly frustrating for the Sharks and none of it will be soon forgotten.

But there were also some good things that happened and they need to be remembered right alongside the disappointments. The Sharks had three 30-goal scorers in Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski (both with 31) and Patrick Marleau (30). Their captain, Joe Thornton, once again led the team in scoring and showcased tremendous leadership from the moment of the first faceoff to the very end of the team’s playoff quest. He was the team’s best player in the postseason.

Young skaters like Justin Braun and Tommy Wingels showed that they were looking to earn spots in the next generation of core players on the team’s roster. That was encouraging news.

There were some memorable games too, including the opening night victory over Phoenix that saw six power play goals divided between the teams. Also a tremendous 1-0 win over Philadelphia that put the team back on track after a disappointing 2-6-1 road trip in February.

The 2011-12 season featured two home wins against Detroit, including a big overtime goal for Marty Havlat on March 17th, and a 10-5-2 stretch run that produced some big wins against Dallas and Los Angeles, and a trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for an eighth consecutive hockey season.

All players and coaches will deposit their 2011-12 memories into a personal reservoir of experience to draw upon in future seasons, whether they are playing for the Sharks or another team. The symbolic moment that will draw all of the experiences together and motivate the next year will be that final handshake at center ice at Scottrade Center, while all of St. Louis exploded in celebration. As my broadcast partner Jamie Baker always says, “Remember the handshake,” and that’s true whether you win or lose the last game of the year.

For now, let’s make sure that we follow the Stanley Cup Playoffs on the radio and on television all the way to the final handshake, and the winning captain’s convergence with Gary Bettman at center ice. It is an unbelievable Stanley Cup Playoff race that is wide open, and there are surely more great stories to come that you’ll need to pay attention to in the coming weeks.

A huge thank you goes to our many listeners who tune in for each and every Sharks game, home and away, on Classic Rock KFOX 98.5/102.1 FM and the San Jose Sharks Radio Network. I’m looking forward to getting together with you there again soon.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 51 24 7 236 226 109
2 y - STL 82 51 24 7 248 201 109
3 x - NSH 82 47 25 10 232 208 104
4 x - CHI 82 48 28 6 229 189 102
5 x - VAN 82 48 29 5 242 222 101
6 x - MIN 82 46 28 8 231 201 100
7 x - WPG 82 43 26 13 230 210 99
8 x - CGY 82 45 30 7 241 216 97
9 LAK 82 40 27 15 220 205 95
10 DAL 82 41 31 10 261 260 92
11 COL 82 39 31 12 219 227 90
12 SJS 82 40 33 9 228 232 89
13 EDM 82 24 44 14 198 283 62
14 ARI 82 24 50 8 170 272 56

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Pavelski 82 37 33 12 70
L. Couture 82 27 40 -6 67
J. Thornton 78 16 49 -4 65
B. Burns 82 17 43 -9 60
P. Marleau 82 19 38 -17 57
T. Wingels 75 15 21 -7 36
T. Hertl 82 13 18 -5 31
M. Nieto 72 10 17 -12 27
M. Karlsson 53 13 11 -3 24
M. Vlasic 70 9 14 12 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Niemi 31 23 7 .914 2.59
A. Stalock 8 9 2 .902 2.62
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