Petshark: Talking Stick
by petshark on 04/08/12 at 02:44 PM ET
The last goal in the last minute (2 seconds shy anyway) of the last game on the last day of the regular NHL season was scored by Dan Boyle for the Sharks. The Sharks’ pride prize was winning four in a row to end the season against their nearest divisional rivals. In their last 10 of the season, they were 7-3-0. The prize in standings was to play the St. Louis Blues instead of the Vancouver Canucks, to which I had to say “wait, wait… WAIT!”
From the regular season record, the Sharks would have been better off playing Vancouver in the first round. They only beat Vancouver once this season, but they didn’t beat St. Louis at all.
The Kings were 3-1 against the Blues but only 2-2 against the Canucks. To me, that suggests that the Kings had greater playoff incentive to win last night.
The Sharks won anyway. Was it just a sudden need to win? Did the Kings back off in the third? Or did all that dirty shit LA pulled just piss the Sharks off? I think it was some of all of the above.
Also last night, Douglas Murray came back into the game to break a record:
Brodie Brazil @brodiebrazilCSN: “Doug Murray set a #sjsharks franchise record with 10 hits tonight.”
I’m inclined to think it really was a last-minute game time decision to put Murray in, not only because he skated so long in the morning. He also did not look cheerful at practice, and I can’t believe he would put any effort into dissembling. He must not have known he would be playing. It was disappointing to see Demers sit though. I hope it wasn’t due to injury.
Marleau also got his 30th goal of the season, the sixth time in his career that he did that. 15 of his goals this season were in the 3rd period. That’s pretty cool.
The team took some casualties last night:
Mark Emmons @markedwinemmons: “You know is playoff time: McLellan only said Clowe and White were OK and getting “maintenance” time in third period.”
That’s nice, I would still really like to know when and how they were knocked out and maybe even see them walking and talking please. Pavelski rushed back to the game after being hit in the face (again!) with a puck, and Couture stayed in even though he looked like couldn’t hit a soccer ball with his stick after being knocked into the boards from behind (again!). So I don’t buy that the game was so completely insignificant that players got pulled for negligible injuries.
Which brings me to that dirty shit the Kings indulged in through these last two games. I’m a believer in “if you’re not cheating you don’t want to win” but that only applies to playing pucks from the bench and other sneaky things that won’t maim anyone. The Kings were on a tear the likes of which I haven’t seen from them this season. I was very unhappy to see Richards join the fray, which he had mostly stayed out of on Thursday. When someone has a history of doing dangerous things, and he’s shown that he can avoid doing them, “stupid” becomes “malicious”. So he really pissed me off in particular. The Kings so deserved to lose.
While the Sharks didn’t necessarily face the toughest competition over the last few weeks, they did do some interesting things. By “interesting” I mean reasons to hope they are ready for these playoffs. Take this stat:
Darin Stephens @SharksStats: 3rd time in their last 9 wins Sharks trailed after 2 and came back (Mar. 15 vs Predators, last 2 vs LA).
Trailing is a bad thing, but overcoming it is a good mark of character. It’s also a good habit for underdogs to develop, and the Sharks are that. It’s been ages since a team made it from the bottom of the heap to the Stanley Cup Finals… hasn’t it? No? Oh yeah, the Flyers pulled it off two seasons ago. They were in seventh, I believe. Before I get too excited about that, I run it through my fuzzy math program that tells me unusual events don’t recur frequently. Logic says we can expect it to be a while before it happens again, even if it isn’t impossible.
What about the big dogs, the Canucks and the Blues? What have they done lately to deserve their status? The Canucks ended the season 8-1-1, the Blues closed it out with 4-3-3. Well then, maybe the Blues were the ones we wanted? That at least evens it up.
A lot of exciting things happened yesterday. Two teams won their first divisional titles, our very own beloved Coyotes (blech!) and the Florida Panthers (yay A-Team!). Steven Stamkos managed to join the ranks of 60-goal scorers for the season. I wonder how many of those 60+ guys were on teams that missed the playoffs?
Another oddity: a while back I was irritated that anyone would compare the Sharks to the Capitals. It still think the teams are very different quantities, but you wouldn’t know it from their performance this season. Despite many predictions, the Caps squeezed into the playoffs too, second in their division and seventh in their conference, just like the Sharks. Maybe being a lower seed will help both teams in some bass-ackwards psychological way, or maybe not. The Year of the Dragon is pretty stringent that way, pretenders beware.
None of that really expresses how I feel about the Sharks beating LA last night. Despite all those odds and ends it was a perfect way to finish the season, with winning and looking forward to playoff hockey and our guys being better than theirs in every possible way. The score may have been close but the Sharks won without trying to kill anyone. That, apparently, can be like playing with a hand tied behind your back. As unwise as it is to fall behind and have to catch up, it sure makes for an exciting game or season.
A million thanks for a very suspenseful season, Sharks.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org