Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ron Wilson fard and other type news

So, unless you've been under a hockey based impenetrable rock the past two weeks, you probably know that...

- Ron Wilson got fired. I like that complacency isn't covering it anymore, however, I feel this was a move that made sense after last year's exit, but that he wasn't at fault for this year's elimination. It'll almost definitely be a step backwards for the team in the immediate future, if they somehow advance to or past the second round in 2008/09, my expectations will have been exceeded.

- Sharks raised ticket prices. In other news, the sun rose, then it set, and my dog peed on the lawn. They still somehow didn't "break even", so season ticket holders have to an increasing amount of money for a product that is staying stagnant. That doesn't sound right.

- Dallas tried to one up the Sharks. After dropping the first three games to the Wings in "God we really suck" fashion, the Stars won Games 4 and 5 to make things a bit interesting before dropping Game 6 in that familiar sucky fashion, ending their season with nary a banner to show for it. (Editor's note: yes, I'm bitter that the Stars knocked the Sharks out, but hey, when it's all said and done for this year, both teams were losers, but we get a division banner and they get bupkis).

- Evgeni Nabokov is god. They say Jesus Saves, I say, yes, Nabby does save. A lot. After making the save of the playoffs in the losing effort of the 4OT Game 6 against Dallas, Nabokov went to Quebec City to play for Russia in the World Championships, where he compiled a 5-0 record with a 1.78 Goals Against Average, a 9.29 Save %, 2 Shutouts, and a Gold medal for his efforts. Congrats on a great season of hockey Nabby, the Vezina isn't far away.

- State of the Sharks. This was actually pretty cool, as we found out the team has put in bids for the ASG (it's thought to be around 2012 or 2013), NHL Entry Draft, and NCAA Frozen Four. We also found out Doug Wilson is still pissed about the Raffi Torres on Milan Michalek hit from the '06 playoffs. Helpful.

- Jeremy Roenick is coming back for another year. This was announced at the State of the Sharks, but he deserves his own bullet point. JR is the man, he deserves the C (maybe not on this squad, but it would be a beautiful gesture by the new coach and by Marleau to give it up), and he deserves a Cup. Now the team has to go get it for the old man. This also means the "JR 509" sign will see another year. Hope it gets to go increase.

- Stanley Cup Finals begin Saturday, with the Pittsburgh Penguins visiting the Detroit Red Wings. Pittsburgh has the O, Detroit is bringing the D. Should be a good series, although I'm predicting that the Cup goes to the Motor City after just 5 games.

- It's not October yet. The Giants suck. The Stealth have been eliminated. The SaberCats are mediocre. I hate the A's. It's gonna be a long summer. On the bright side, I do have my new internship, with the San Francisco Dragons of Major League Lacrosse. The Dragons are 0-1, but are poised to have a good year. They are playing at Spartan Stadium in San Jose this year, come on down and see their opener on May 31st at 7pm against the LA Riptide.

GO SHARKS (Just practicing for the fall)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

5/4/08 DALLAS 2, sharks 1 4OT (Dallas wins series 4-2)

Took a real long time, but that's how it ends, in Game 6 of the second round. Again.

The Sharks 2007-2008 season came to a disappointing end Sunday night, albeit in a new and different heartbreaking fashion. A tremendous Game 6 saw the Sharks and Stars battle for more than double a regulation contest, making it that much more disappointing when it finally came to an end.

An iffy Brian Campbell penalty (called in my opinion as a makeup call for an iffy Niklas Grossman penalty in the 3rd overtime) lead to a Dallas powerplay that, unlike the Sharks man advantage in the period earlier, didn't fail to capitalize. Captain No Goal Brendan Morrow finally put one in the net on his stick, ending the last game of the series like he ended the first, in sudden death OT.

I waited an extra night to post this, because I wanted to point out that tonight could have, and was so close to being the minutes following Game 7 of this series. Mere inches played the difference in Game 6, but a crappy second period of Game 2 sticks out as the main culprit of the series. An overtime is a crapshoot, but when two teams are equal, more often then not, they even out.

That said, it's a weird feeling to be a Sharks fan right now. On one end, I've seen this story before. A great Sharks team has preseason Cup hopes, has a good regular season, and catches fire towards season's end, gets into the playoffs, wins a round, and just up and dies in Game 6 against a team they should beat.

On the other end, the Sharks, despite their ultimate expectations, and the expectations of everyone around the league, answered the bell when it rang extolling a message of a team that lacked heart, character, and a will to just win.

After losing Game 3 to Calgary in classic "playing not to lose means playing not to win either" fashion, the Sharks battled back and stole Game 4 in the waning moments, came home and won Game 5, and then after laying an egg in Game 6, they played a great Game 7, their first in San Jose, and moved on.

Yes, they did drop the first three to Dallas, but they answered the bell again in Game 4, when some 3rd Period heroics allowed the Sharks to avoid the loss, which still seemed almost inevitable. Then Game 5 happened, and the Sharks battled back from a 2-0 3rd Period deficit forcing an extra period, where Joe Pavelski sent the Tank into a state of euphoria, and almost clinching a Game 7 that was to be played, well, tonight. Obviously, that magical comeback fell one small goal short, and instead of discussing a second Game 7 this spring, I'm left to discuss Sharks hockey that won't be played for five whole months.

In summary, I am proud of this Sharks team. I'm proud of Evgeni Nabokov, who had the season of his career, and hopefully will be rightfully crowned the top goalie of the season with the Vezina Trophy, which will be awarded after the conclusion of the playoffs. I'm proud of Patrick Marleau, who, despite a less than par regular season, had a solid two series, including battling through two of the more bloody hits put on Sharks in recent history. I'm proud of Jeremy Roenick, who stuck a sock in pretty much every critic and fans mouths alike with his inspiring campaign, showing what it's like to play hockey because you just plain love it.

There really isn't anyone I'm disappointed in, at least in a form that matters to anything. I would have liked to see some adjustments made to the power play, a unit that struggled all season long, yet remained virtually the same, minus a month long blip after the arrival of Brian Campbell. I would have liked to see Nabby play less in the regular season, although it doesn't seem to have made a difference, as he was absolutely incredible this post season (that glove save on Brad Richards in the first OT this Sunday is a great save of the year candidate). I would have liked to see the Sharks finally turn the corner, cause I'm really tired of other teams and other fan bases getting to see June hockey in person, while I have to settle for my television set and teams that aren't my own.

I can live vicariously throughout the rest of these playoffs, however. I'd love to see the Flyers win the Cup, because I'm a big fan of underdogs, and to go from the worst team in the Eastern Conference to Stanley Cup Champions would be simply amazing. I guess I'd be ok with the Red Wings winning the Cup, because A) it's not Dallas or Pittsburgh and B) Brad Stuart would get to hold the silver. I can live vicariously through Evgeni Nabokov for Team Russia, Douglas Murray for Team Sweden, and Marcel Goc and Dmitri Patzold for Team Germany, who are competing in the World Championships currently going on in Canada. And lastly, I'm living vicariously through other teams and other fan bases in hopes that one day the good karma may finally pay off, and I might get to live this stuff first hand.

I'll still be posting throughout the summer, I'm going to be working for the San Francisco Dragons of the MLL, the premier professional outdoor lacrosse league in the US in addition to my post with the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League. I am disappointed that I have worn my Sharks jerseys for the last time this season, but even as I hang them in my closet, the faint excitement of Exhibition hockey in September already has me flipping the months of the calendar. Come October, we'll all gather at 525 W. Santa Clara, see the 2007-2008 Pacific Division Champions banner with none of his friends, see Evgeni Nabokov's Vezina Trophy, and see our Sharks, ready to start all over again, ready to end the story differently, and ready to make everyone who cheers for the Teal just a bit happier next spring.

GO SHARKS (Draft day yet?)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

5/2/08 SHARKS 3, dallas 2 OT

Ok, forget about last game, this was your stereotypical Sharks elimination game. Sharks kinda show up until they get scored on, then disappear into the summer skies, and lose by a 2-0 margin...wait, they did what? AGAIN? No ****ing way.

Well, it took a third period Dallas meltdown, winding up on the fortunate side of a couple reviewed goals, and energy that I personally haven't experienced since 1994, and bam, hello Game 6.

Brendan Morrow had, what has been coined the McMorrow Sandwich, a disallowed goal (for kicking), followed shortly thereafter by a legal goal (with a stick), and then another disallowed goal (for batting it in with a hand). Jere Lehtinen had a powerplay goal as well, and after 2 periods, it looked over.

With the Sharks trailing 2-0, and not showing much of anything positive, it really did seem over. I was exchanging conversations with my friends, discussing summer plans, and what would change with the team, and who would come in and coach, and all sorts of other things. My dad turned to me and said as the 3rd started that he wanted just one goal. I agreed, that would have been fine by me, just not to see a shutout.

Then Michalek scored, and he turned to me again and said, "ok, I don't want to be greedy, but what if they tied it here". And then JR found Campbell on a great homerun pass up the middle, finding a streaking Soupmeister splitting the D, and rifling a shot over Turco's shoulder. Once again, he turned to me and mentioned how crazy it would be if they won it, regulation or not. After what seemed like the longest 8 minutes ever, OT finally came, and it didn't take long for my dad to get his third and final wish, when Joe Pavelski had what seemed like 30 minutes alone by himself with the puck, and buried it, sending the Tank into a state of absolute euphoria.

The horn went for about 15 seconds (verified later on the tv), but it was so loud in there, and I was so caught up in the moment, hugging and high fiving everyone around me, that I didn't hear it. The concourse after the game was filled with hooting and hollering not seen in the Tank since the early days, but certainly is welcome anytime.

Ok, the series is still in Dallas' favor. They're still up 3-2, and they're going home for Game 6, a situation that they had last series against the Ducks. After losing Game 5 in Anaheim, the Stars returned home and exploded for 3 goals in the 3rd to capture the 4-1 win and the series victory. But there has to be some doubt creeping into the heads of the Stars. After holding a 3-0 lead, their lead has shrunken to 1 game, and if they lose, they'll be under the gun in Game 7 in a hostile HP Pavilion. They'll more than likely bring their best game, hopefully the Sharks can match.

Game 6 is tomorrow night at 6 pm in Dallas. As mentioned above, the Sharks will have to bring their best game, as the Stars surely will be playing their best hockey. I will be watching this game from somewhere other than the comfort of my own couch, something that I won't know is a good thing or not until the conclusion of tomorrow's contest. The San Jose Stealth also have a playoff game, and will be hosting the Portland LumberJax at 3 pm at the arena in the Western Division Semi-Finals. Tickets are available at the Pavilion box office, come on down and experience some exciting playoff lacrosse action.

GO SHARKS (win again again)

Friday, May 02, 2008

4/30/08 WCSF #4: sharks 2, DALLAS 1

Yeah, your stereotypical Sharks elimination game, they show up until they get scored on, then fold up and prepare for the sum... say what? They didn't lose? Well, hey, that's cool.

The Sharks staved off elimination last night, something they're gonna have to do a few more times if they want to move on to the next round of the playoffs. Patrick Marleau recieved a great breakout pass from Sergei Zubov again, and buried a shorthanded breakaway on Marty Turco, Milan Michalek shoved in his third goal of the series on the power play, and Evgeni Nabokov had his strongest game of the series, and possibly of the playoffs, making 17 saves in the win, and the Sharks live to play another day.

The win came on the second night of a back to back in Dallas, caused by the expectation that there would have been a Dallas Mavericks playoff game tonight, but they were eliminated by New Orleans last night. The win gives the Sharks a shred of hope that this isn't quite over yet, and plants that same thought, albeit in the form of doubt, into the heads of the Dallas Stars. As Jamie Baker said eloquently after Game 4, a seed has been planted, and in Game 5, the Sharks need to do in their power to make that seed grow.

Tomorrow hopefully comes some water and sunshine for that seed, when Game 5 faces off at 7 pacific at HP. With Detroit completing their sweep of the Colorado Avalanche tonight, the Sharks can hope that Dallas has been guilty of scoreboard watching and premature scouting, something that can plague a team that is steamrolling the opposition mercilessly. On the other side of things, a possible date with Detroit could have some Sharks licking their lips, thinking a possible revenge could await them in the next round.

Unfortunately, one game does not make the series, and the Sharks aren't close to that revenge yet, but a win tomorrow night will get them that much closer. As of now, there is no Game 6 or Game 7 that the Sharks can even think about, because if they don't win Game 5, then neither of those will ever exist. However, there are ways to make another trip to Dallas necessary: More solid goaltending from Nabby, a continued presence from guys like Mike Grier, Tomas Plihal, Torrey Mitchell, and Devin Setoguchi up front, and solid, pressure from the middle outwards defense, and an extended visit from the special teams, and we could very well be talking about Sunday soon enough.

GO SHARKS (win again)