Kukla's Korner

Petshark: Talking Stick

Experienced?

The Sharks used two sheets of ice today, skated for well over an hour.  Mitchell practiced on the third line without sharing the spot with Handzus.  Evidently he suffered no ill effects from yesterday’s practice.  Clowe was still out, which is alarming despite the assurances that he will be fine for Game 1.  When teams start using playoff-speak, I need to see with my own eyes to believe.

That Brian Elliott was injured in practice has most people thinking Halak will start for the Blues.  Since they traded Bishop away, they don’t have an experienced NHL backup.  I don’t think it matters a lot unless Elliott’s injury is a lot more severe than anyone thinks.

I keep hearing predictions that say the Sharks have more recent playoff experience than the Blues, but the Blues will win the series anyway.  Pshaw.  If the Sharks can beat the Blues even once,  why not four times?  I want to look at the other, more verifiable claim: that the Sharks have more playoff experience than the Blues have and this matters.  I know it matters, I believe the Sharks have more experience, but sometimes I like to make lists anyway.

To hear Bernie Miklasz tell it, the Blues are but babes in the woods, innocent and unfettered by playoff ghosts:

The 2011-2012 Blues are young and innocent and shouldn’t be covered with the blood of the many painful playoff crashes in franchise history. This precocious group had nothing to do with Bobby Orr’s flying goal at the old barn on Oakland Avenue, Steve Yzerman beating Jon Casey from the blue line to end Game 7 at Joe Louis Arena, or Marc Bergevin inexplicably throwing the puck into his own net at San Jose. -stltoday.com

If the Blues are so untainted of memory, maybe there are some ideas here for people wanting to make signs for the games in San Jose.

As a team, the Blues haven’t won a playoff game since 2004, but they did play four playoff games in 2009.  Nine were there for that motivational series:

  • David Backes
  • Patrik Bergelund
  • Carlo Colaiacovo
  • Barret Jackman
  • T.J. Oshie
  • David Perron
  • Roman Polak
  • Kris Russell
  • Alexander Steen

We can count on any of those guys being in a mood.  What about Blues players who played in more than 4 playoff games since 2004?  Here they are, with the number of post-2004 playoff games they’ve played in:

  • Jason Arnott (29)
  • B.J. Crombeen (9)
  • Matt D’Agostini(3)
  • Jaroslav Halak (21)
  • *Kent Huskins (47, 30 w/ Sharks)
  • Jamie Langenbrunner (34)
  • Andy McDonald (41)
  • *Scott Nichol (40, 30 w/ Sharks)
  • Vladimir Sobotka (19)
  • Chris Stewart (6)

You can guess what the asterisk means.  In case you can’t, I mentioned exactly how many playoff games those guys played as Sharks. All together, that’s 285 playoff games since 2004 for 19 Blues players.

This year’s Blues have some experience playing the Sharks.  That could be useful, if they only played the Muddle Sharks, Team Teal’s awful stand-ins.  Maybe that experience could work to San Jose’s advantage.

What about the Sharks?  Just how much playoff experience are we talking here?  Here are the Sharks with more than 4 playoff games since 2004:

  • Brent Burns (11)
  • Dan Boyle (50)
  • *Ryane Clowe (63)
  • *Logan Couture (33)
  • *Jason Demers (28)
  • *Benn Ferriero (8)
  • TJ Galiardi (6)
  • Michal Handzus (18)
  • Martin Havlat (26)
  • *Patrick Marleau (73)
  • *Torrey Mitchell (50)
  • Dominic Moore (41)
  • *Douglas Murray (52)
  • Antti Niemi (40)
  • *Joe Pavelski (58)
  • Joe Thornton (74)
  • Jim Vandermeer (13)
  • *Marc-Edouard Vlasic (63)
  • Colin White (28)
  • Brad Winchester (23)
  • Daniel Winnik (7)

Here the asterisks mark the players who have played all of their playoff games with the Sharks.  That little detail is important to me since I put so much stock in knowing who you are playing with.  Yeah, okay, I have already complained about all these new guys messing the chemical balance up but this is an entirely different formula.

765 playoff games for 21 Sharks players since the Blues won a playoff game.  Even if gut instinct and eye-balling didn’t make it clear, that figure quantifies it for me.  The Sharks’ list of players with more than four since ‘04 is much longer than the Blues’.  That’s a nice visual.  Heck, the “Sharks only” playoff list is almost as long as the Blues’ “more than 4 since ‘04” list.  Yay!

Today during practice, Todd McLellan stopped everyone and called them in for a huddle.  Niemi had to leave his private drill to skate all the way down the ice for the confab.  I don’t know exactly what McLellan said but I heard “four games.”  That’s such a weighty thing right now: four regular season losses to the Blues, four wins necessary, four losses unacceptable.  Four games.

Why have we spent so much time talking about the number three?  Four totally snuck up on us.

Whatever McLellan said, I bet it was something he has said before.  The thing about teaching, or public speaking, or management of people in any setting is repetition beyond the normal person’s comfort level.  You have to repeat it even if you’re bored of saying it, even if you know many had a chance to hear it the first time or the fourth time or… maybe one of them missed it the seventh time.  If everybody ropes and everybody rides, they all have to be willing to wait for the last guy to climb aboard and make sure he knows not to stick his thumb in the dally.

If it comes down to who knows how to handle the pressure of playoffs better, that will benefit the Sharks.  Sometimes people are so inexperienced that they simply don’t feel the pressure.  The Sharks will have to make sure the Blues do notice the heat of the second season.  The Sharks have been swept, they have been pushed out early, they have been through long series, they have won a lot of playoff games.  They know what is required, they just need to get their minds together.

Filed in: , San Jose Sharks, | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
  Tags: experience, playoffs, ryane+clowe, st+louis+blues, todd+mclellan, torrey+mitchell

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About Petshark: Talking Stick

Native of Northern California.  Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.

I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle.  I watch, I react, I write it down.

My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked.  I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind.  When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom.  It hasn't, I don't think it will.  At all.

Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.

I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.

I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at talkingstick@petshark.net