Kukla's Korner Hockey
via the San Francisco Chronicle,
The Bay Area’s seasonal infatuation with the Sharks has returned, at least based on the local ratings from Tuesday’s 5-3 win over Calgary. Comcast SportsNet Bay Area announced that its telecast of Game 7 drew a 4.6 average rating (approximately 111,000 households) and an 8.8 peak rating (212,000), the highest since Game 7 of the 2002 second-round series with Colorado that drew a 5.7.
The rating for the series finished at 2.7, against the team’s regular-season rating of 0.9. These numbers do not include the viewers who chose the Versus or CBC telecasts.
From Greg Beacham at the AP (via USA Today):
When Roenick postponed retirement for another Stanley Cup run, he also gave up alcohol for the year. Roenick doesn’t have a drinking problem, yet the 38-year-old forward partly credits his teetotaling for his remarkable resurgence this season, capped by a spectacular Game 7 that sent the Sharks onward to face the Dallas Stars in the second round.
“I think that has a lot to do with it - clean living and making sure that my body is fresh, that there’s no toxins in it,” said Roenick, who had two goals and two assists. “A healthy mind will create a healthy body, and the San Jose Sharks have allowed me to have a healthy mind. I haven’t felt this good in maybe 10 or 15 years, since I was a kid. I feel like I did when I played in Chicago, before Philly and Phoenix, way back when.”
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
But even in doing so, San Jose left several questions floating, the kind that inevitably dog a favored team emerging from a series that went longer than it should have. Those questions provide a juicy subtext for their second round collision with the Dallas Stars, a matchup that gets underway Friday at the Shark Tank.
Is Ron Wilson up to the challenge?
There are few NHL coaches who can feel secure about their continued employment after their season ends in April. Carrying the burden of expectations that come with a division championship and years of playoff disappointments, Wilson was not one of them.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Afterwards, Kiprusoff — who begins the first year of a lucrative new six-year contract extension next season — said of coach Mike Keenan’s decision to switch goalies: “It’s not my call. You have to ask somebody else.”
Keenan, that somebody, was blunt in his assessment: “I didn’t think it was controversial,” he said, of his decision to make the goalie switch. “Kipper didn’t play very well. I was surprised. I thought he would give us his best game.”
Flames’ captain Jarome Iginla, who scored their opening goal, was deeply disappointed with the loss, especially since the game was there for the taking, about 23 minutes in, when Calgary held a 2-1 lead on Owen Nolan’s breakaway goal.
“Guys worked extremely hard to get to this point and give us a chance to win the series,” said Iginla. “There was about a 10-minute span there when they won the game and ended up winning the series on us.”
fromm Mark Purdy of the Mercury News,
All you want is a team’s best. Such a modest request for a Game 7. But we all know how hard that has been to find for the Sharks on a consistent basis in the playoffs over the past few years.
But the final score Tuesday settled that matter for now. In nine minutes during the second period, the Sharks settled the issue of whether they can bring their best when it really matters.
“If you have played youth hockey, street hockey, any hockey, you’ve played this game in your head a million times,” Sharks captain Patrick Marleau said afterward.
San Jose—always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Unless tonight is the launching point for them to pose a serious challenge for the Cup that so many expect, but obviously Calgary will have something to say about that. So if you’re betting on former Art Ross Trophy winners, do you put your money on Jarome Iginla or Joe Thornton?
History doesn’t tell us much. According to Sharkspage, the Flames and Sharks have met twice in playoff history: 1995 Conference Quarter-Finals (Sharks won 4 games to 3); and 2004 Western Conference Finals (Flames won 4 to 2).
And statistically-speaking, tonight’s game favors San Jose: since the NHL introduced the best-of-seven format in 1939, a total of 120 playoff series have gone to seven games and the home team has won 76 (63%).
Who goes on to the second round?
From Mark Emmons at the Mercury News,
No matter how intense, physical or downright dirty a series becomes, hockey players suddenly discover their inner-Miss Manners, rein in their raging emotions and shake on it - win or lose. A rugged contest will come to a civilized conclusion.
“We’re probably the most violent sport where you can get hurt at any time,” Sharks Coach Ron Wilson said. “And it’s just an incredible show of respect that when it’s all done, you can leave it right there and shake hands.
“Maybe it’s because we’re a classy sport. Unfortunately, sports can be about chest-bumping and pointing at myself. But that’s not what hockey players are all about.”
from David Pollak of MediaNews via the ContraCosta Times,
Do or die. Win or go home. Pucks or putters.
Pick whatever phrase makes it most clear what the stakes are tonight at HP Pavilion. Because when the Sharks and Calgary Flames square off in the first Game 7 played on home ice in franchise history, there is no shortage of drama and pressure.
So much, in fact, that Sharks coach Ron Wilson rejects the notion that he needs to find a way to motivate his team to play with the required desperation.
“It’s a seventh game. If you don’t win, you’re out. If I have to manufacture desperation, we’re in dire straits,” Wilson said shortly after the Flames beat the Sharks 2-0 on Sunday night to force this hard-fought series into a one-game showdown. “Our players know what’s at stake.”
from Scott Morrison of CBC at his Viewpoint blog,
The loser tonight in San Jose, either the Calgary Flames or the Sharks, is indeed out.
But it is not quite that simple, though in many ways it is.
There is much more at stake for the Sharks tonight, specifically the future of the coaching staff and the roster as we know it.
It is highly doubtful that management will resist making significant change again if this team doesn’t at the very least reach the Stanley Cup final, nevermind put away the pesky Flames.
From Allen Cameron at the Calgary Herald,
Fresh off hitting for a $1-million payout in a harness-racing wager in his native Sweden on Saturday, the talented forward responded with his best game of the playoffs Sunday night at the Pengrowth Saddledome, assisting on Owen Nolan’s eventual game-winner in the first period and playing a role at both ends of the ice in Calgary’s 2-0 series-tying win over the San Jose Sharks.
more… on a big weekend for Huselius
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