Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Kevin Kurz of CSNBayArea,
It was, quite possibly, a make-or-break year for general manager Doug Wilson, who took the brunt of the criticism from the fan base for a number of different reasons after the Sharks 10-year playoff run ended last season. Another playoff-free spring amid mounting attendance problems might have spelled the end.
Instead, Wilson had perhaps his best 12 months of his front office career, overseeing the organization’s resurgence and first-ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final. Nearly every move he made worked out.
Consider: Martin Jones looks like the next franchise goalie. Paul Martin and Joel Ward provided depth and experience on the blue line and at forward, respectively. Free agent rookie Joonas Donskoi could be a future 25-goal, 50-point scorer. Dainius Zubrus and Nick Spaling were upgrades over young players not yet ready for the NHL. Roman Polak struggled in the Final, but was an important piece down the stretch and in the first three rounds in a heavy Western Conference.
All of the key cogs are locked up or under team control for at least another season, too.
STAMFORD, Conn. – June 13, 2016 – The six-game 2016 Stanley Cup Final featuring the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks averaged nearly 4 million viewers (3.948 million), making it the most-watched non-Original Six series in 15 years, according to Fast National Ratings by The Nielsen Company.
Game 6, in which the Pittsburgh Penguins won their first Stanley Cup since 2009 with a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., averaged 5.407 million viewers, making it NBC’s most-watched non-Original Six Stanley Cup Final game ever. The game is expected to win the night in the advertiser-coveted P18-49 demo (1.9) among broadcast networks when the final numbers are confirmed tomorrow.
from Ray Ratto of CSNBayArea,
It does no good to tell Joe Pavelski that the better team won the Stanley Cup. It also does no good to tell him that the San Jose Sharks had a deep and valiant run toward that end.
All there is right now is the bilious taste of going so far and getting nothing but a handshake line from joyous opponents and red-rimmed eyes. The Pittsburgh Penguins are the well-deserving winners, and the San Jose Sharks’ dream has been approached but not achieved.
“I think right now,” the Sharks’ captain said in a funeral dressing room when asked if he would remember the good times or the gut-wrenching ones, “you probably remember the bad stuff first.”
That is the way of the athlete. Condolences are empty, commiserations are weak, handshakes feel like punches and pats on the back like daggers in the spine.
Below, watch some of the San Jose Sharks post-game...
Three moments from last night...
from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,
Going into Game 5, the series seemed over. Pittsburgh needed one win to hoist the Cup and had been the better team in the series. The Sharks’ 4-2 win in Game 5 now has everyone wondering if this might be a toss-up series again.
It’s not hard to project the Sharks winning Game 6 with the help of a loud, boisterous San Jose crowd. If it's possible the Sharks could win Game 6, then it's possible they can come back and win the series.
“Before Game 5, (we) kept saying try to win this game and get back to San Jose,” Sharks center Logan Couture said. “Now it’s going to be don’t lose at home, win a game and go back to Pittsburgh.”
One of the NHL’s time-honored beliefs in that Game 7 is always a coin flip.
Given that tradition, the Penguins might now be the team feeling the pressure. They did all they could before Game 5 to say the series was far from over, but that didn't prevent high expectations.
The Sharks have added confidence because they believe they are winning the goaltending battle. San Jose goalie Martin Jones owns a .933 save percentage in the series, while Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray is at .916.
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
Evgeni Malkin simply said what is on his mind, and probably on the minds of all of his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates, in the aftermath of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
"Yeah, 4-2 we lost, but I think we played a little bit better than San Jose," Malkin said after practice Saturday. "They're a good team, but they were a little bit lucky."
Surely, the Sharks feel differently, but Malkin's point is well taken. The Penguins outshot the Sharks 46-22 and had a 76-36 edge in total shot attempts, including 66-29 at even strength.
from Mark Purdy of the Mercury News,
If you are still a Sharks believer, here is the most encouraging sight I witnessed in Pittsburgh: The Sharks players, too, truly do believe they can come back and win the Stanley Cup Final against the Penguins.
That doesn't mean it will happen. Trailing 3-2 in the series, the Sharks still have a mountain to climb, beginning with Game 6 at SAP Center on Sunday. But the mountain trail grew a little less steep after Thursday's victory.
After decades of covering playoffs in every sport, I have learned to respect the words that players say after games but also to realize that players are going to say what they think they should say. More telling is their body language, or the way they say the words, or the subtle messages they sometimes send.
Sharks defenseman Paul Martin spent the 2010-15 seasons with the Penguins before signing as a free agent with San Jose last summer. Martin is a respected pro with the standard solid-and-mannerly personality of a Minnesota native. He's certainly no trash talker. So one of Martin's remarks, buried amid the usual happy-to-win postgame quotes, was interesting.
"It's good to let them know we're still here," Martin said of the Penguins. "We played them pretty well at SAP. I've been over there when they've lost 3-1 leads and lost series."
from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun,
Not so fast, Pittsburgh.
That was some demonstration of civic love and anticipation outside the Consol Energy Center and blocks in any direction Thursday night — tens of thousands of fans flooding the streets, gathering around big screens, ready to celebrate the Penguins’ Stanley Cup.
But the San Jose Sharks evidently didn’t get the memo.
The Californians showed an annoying lack of understanding of the script, a total disregard for the spirit of the thing.
Sometime between crawling out of California down 3-1 in games and suiting up for Game 5 in decidedly enemy territory, the Sharks must have figured out that it would be interesting to see what happened if they scored the first goal.
from Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
So you are tired, disappointed, perhaps even angry if you paid thousands for a ticket to get into Consol Energy Center Thursday night?
Get over it.
The Penguins still are going to win the Stanley Cup.
from Scott Cullen of TSN,
Martin Jones – San Jose’s netminder withstood a barrage of shots, stopping 44 of 46, as the Sharks won Game Five, 4-2, sending the series back to San Jose. In his past dozen games, Jones has posted a .932 save percentage and it was the third time in the Final that he’s recorded at least 38 saves.
Logan Couture – The leading scorer in this year’s playoffs was in on all of San Jose’s three first-period goals, recording a goal and two assists. He now has 29 points (9 G, 20 A) in 23 postseason games.
Melker Karlsson – Thrust into a bigger role in Tomas Hertl’s absence, Karlsson skated alongside Couture and Patrick Marleau and recorded a goal and an assist in Game Five, the second straight game in which he found the back of the net.
Matt Murray – It’s been an up-and-down Final for Pittsburgh’s goaltender, who allowed three goals on the first five shots he faced, and that was enough to cost the Penguins the game.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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