Nominations for best supporting yet unknown Shark

For east coast reporters too sleepy to stay up and watch San Jose this season, this is your handy checklist for best supporting Shark. The nominees are:

D - Scott Hannan
From Richmond, British Columbia, averaging 26 minutes a night against Colorado, opposing forwards hate Hannan's patented paste you against the wall maneuver [ask Forsberg], 1 goal and 3 assists [+4] in 8 playoff games.

LW - Nils Ekman
From Stockholm, Sweden, never catching on with the New York Rangers or Tampa Bay Lightning organizations, Nils Ekman responded in San Jose with career highs in goals [22], assists [33], short-handed goals [4], game winning goals [5], games played [82] and +/- [+30], smiles after scoring, after being checked, after pretty much anything that happens on the ice.

RW - Alexander Korolyuk
From Moscow, USSR, many felt he was banished to play in Russia last season under Sutter, returned to notch career highs in goals [19] and points [37] and +/- [+20], Korolyuk assumed a role on the penalty kill and on the second power play unit, labeled twice by coach Ron Wilson as the best player on the ice in the first round.

D - Mike Rathje
From Mannville, Alberta, compared in an inspired column by Mark Purdy to Barry Bonds as the Bay Area athlete with the most seniority, 6-5 and 235 lbs makes him the largest Shark, averaging around 23 minutes in the postseason with 2 assists [+2].

RW - Jonathan Cheechoo
From Moose Factory, Ontario, tied for the club lead with 28 goals, had seven 2 goal games this season, increased his point total from 16 last year to 47 this year, has 2 goals and 4 assists [+5] and several fine defensive plays in 8 playoff games, will fire the puck from absolutely anywhere on the ice. Cheechoo seriously hurt his chances at being unknown to the East with a goal between the legs described as the prettiest this season.

One vote per customer.

[Update] Rob Blake may miss the rest of the series.

[Update2] If the Sharks lose Ricci, McCauley and Thornton to injury, look for Smith, Davison and Marcel Goc to play, with defenseman Jason Marshall possibly taking shifts at wing.

[Update3] Ray Ratto - Super fish-outs.


Shark Notes - game 2 edition

Teemu Selanne in game 1

- Teemu Selanne struggled this season with 16 goals, and 16 assists in 78 games, but no one could have imagined he would be a healthy scratch in game 2.

In game 1 the boos rained down on Teemu each time he touched the puck.

What makes this situation awkward is that Selanne was one of the most classy and entertaining players to play in San Jose. Sharks fans would be much more effective booing Forsberg every time he touched the puck [which happened in game 2].

- I have heard of Matthew Barnaby's reputation, but seeing it first hand was disgusting. Sharks coach Ron Wilson said he respected his play, but how can you respect someone goading another into a fight and then turtling, snapping his head back at the slightest contact trying to draw a penalty, or the fake writhing in pain like a soccer player? This is an embarrassing way to play hockey.

- New TSN analyst and former Shark Adam Graves called Dimitrakos-Marleau-Damphousse the best first line in the playoffs. He also said Damphousse is an old guy with a lot left in the tank [5 shots on goal in the first period], but he could have said the same things about himself as well.

- San Jose had 15 PP chances in the first two games, connecting on 4 of them.

- 2 wins against Colorado raises the Sharks alltime playoff record
to 35-39. Shooting for .500 would land the Sharks in the Conference finals.

- Awards time: Sharks coach Ron Wilson and former Sharks coach Darryl Sutter are nominated for the Jack Adams award, Alyn McCauley is nominated for the Selke, and former Shark Miikka Kiprusoff for the Vezina.

- A number of Colorado Avalanche fans are emailing us all manner of Shark recipes. My favorite was the link to the Shark battle on Iron Chef. I can only respond with diveavalanche.com. That site will make you laugh for a long time.

Jonathan Cheechoo highlight goal

- A friend I met online who is serving abroad missed the Cheechoo highlight goal in game 2 many are calling the prettiest goal all season. Brad Stuart drove in along the left boards and sent a pass to Cheechoo in front of the net that was off the mark. Cheechoo spread his legs wide and shoveled the puck off his stick, which was between his legs, over a stunned Rob Blake and David Aebischer.

[Update] Ann Killion of the SJ Mercury writes a very special article on Moose Factory native Jonathan Cheechoo : Cheechoo's wild goal worthy of goose bumps.
The snow near Moose Factory won't completely melt until sometime in late May... And the Sharks may still be playing when spring finally comes to Moose Factory.
Well said.


A Playoff Shark emerges

A playoff Shark emerges

The Sharks won the first game of the Western Conference semifinals 5-2. Patrick Marleau scored his second hat trick of the playoffs, Evgeni Nabokov made 26 saves.

Hmmmm, posted this in my series preview. Consider me silenced.
Patrick Marleau is the unquestioned leader of this team, but without injured Marco Sturm he has struggled to regain his dominate form. Another hat trick would silence the critics nicely.
Primeau stickhandles

Kyle McLaren tried another one of his patented hip checks. He barely missed Konowalchuk, who took exception after the play.

Joe Sakic test
Peter Forsberg takes a bad penalty

Peter Forsberg took a tripping penalty in the second.

Primeau stickhandles

[Note] Image file names will be changed daily. Please download these images to your webpage instead of linking to them from here.

[Update] Sharks hope to build on momentum - Scott Burnside.

[Update2] Former NHL goalie Darren Eliot has informative scouting reports on: Miikka Kiprusoff, Evgeni Nabokov, and David Aebischer.

[Update3] Matthew Barnaby's personal website. This photo of him and his son is one of my favorites.


Second round playoff preview - Show me the Selanne

Teemu Selanne

San Jose has a balanced offensive attack with all 4 lines. Patrick Marleau is the unquestioned leader of this team, but without injured Marco Sturm he has struggled to regain his dominate form. Another hat trick would silence the critics nicely.

The second and third lines are both dealing with injuries. The KME line will probably have Alyn McCauley back. They need to set the tone early and force Colorado to second guess itself. Alexander Korolyuk was the star of the first round for San Jose.

Cheechoo-Ricci-Thornton must cycle the puck down low to be effective. I also dug deep into the Sharkspage archives to find another key for this line, getting in front of the net. The first picture is from earlier this year, the second is from the 2002 Western Conference semifinals.

traffic in front of the net playoff traffic in front of the net

Colorado has a potent offense that can run away with this series if Nabokov struggles. Peter Forsberg [3G,5A] returned from his annual mid-season layoff to remind everyone why he still is the best player in the league. Here is my re-created conversation with Peter Forsberg last summer in Stockholm.
ME: I am a big fan of yours except when you knock the Sharks out of the playoffs. Can I buy you a beer?
PF: No.
ME: Thanks, have a good one.
Joe Sakic [4G,2A], rookie Marek Svatos [1G,5A], Milan Hejduk [3G,2A] led the Lanche up front, with Rob Blake [0G,5A] contributing from the blueline. The Avalanche powered past the Dallas Stars in 5 games.

No matter how strong the Sharks are defensively, Colorado is going to rack up goals. 5-on-5 the Avalanche are solid, but on the man advantage they are devastating.

Alex Tanguay [2G,2A] struggled with injuries during the regular season, and was re-injured in the first round.

Former shark Teemu Selanne has struggled this year with Colorado, but Steve Konowalchuk, Matthew Barnaby, Chris Gratton, and Andrei Nikolishin give this team the toughness it will need to advance. Nikolishin will especially hurt the Sharks on faceoffs.

Edge: to Colorado.

San Jose is strong defensively five-on-five and on the penalty kill. Kyle McLaren distributed the most devastating hip check of the playoffs, and Colorado forwards would be wise to keep their heads up entering the zone. SJ's weakness is getting pucks on net, and goals from the blueline. I would like to see one dman get 10 shots on net this series.

Rob Blake killed the Sharks with 5 goals in 2002. Foote, Boughner and Vaananen are solid defensively, but they do not match up well with the Sharks forwards. Rookie phenom John-Michael Liles is still not in top form after coming back from a right knee injury.

Edge: to San Jose.

Evgeni Nabokov

Aebischer has played well this season, and Tommy Salo is a very proficient backup, but San Jose clearly has the edge in net. Both Nabokov and Toskala have struggled against the Avalanche in the past, but with enough goal support both would be able to minimize the Avalanche attack enough to win this series.

Edge: to San Jose

[Special Teams]
Colorado has the 2nd best PP percentage in the postseason [28.6%], and the 4th worst PK [81.8%].

San Jose is a woeful [9.7%] on the powerplay, but a 2nd best PK [95.5%]. If San Jose can stay out of the box, this will be a close series.

Edge: even.

Prediction: Sharks in six.

Curtis Brown

[Update] I was asked via email by a member of the armed forces to post a picture of Cubro, or as non-Buffalo Sabres fans call him, Curtis Brown. Ask and yee shall receive.


Best second round predictions in the business

Jerome Ignila will play Jonah to the Detroit Red Wings whale

Some say thought provoking, some say it will make you bow down and kiss Lord Stanley... my second round playoff predictions are up.

I was Shark-and-Awed in the first round going 3-5. But really, I want you to stand in front of me with a straight face and say you picked against Boston or Vancouver in the first round.

[Update] Sharks coach Ron Wilson's techno savvy has been exposed in the SF Chronicle and in Wired Magazine. Someone cue to the rest of the league scrambling to catch up.

[Email from brother] I am being forced to link to this subscription only Wall Street Journal article on the [punk?] band Two Man advantage, dropping the gloves, picking up guitars. Their official site complete with downloadable music is here.

Maybe they can cover "I come from the water" for San Jose's playoff run? My Metallica cover of "Obey your Napster" is still in production.


Cleanse the palette

Mike Danton Hours after playing in the final game of the Sharks-Blues playoff series, a game where he got into a tussel with Todd Harvey during pre-game warmups, Mike Danton was arrested in a bizarre murder-for-hire plot.

This is just what the NHL needed to start the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Danton has not generated the same uproar as the Bertuzzi incident, but right now it could swing either way. The media may have already burned their short attention span when it comes to hockey, or a slow news day could lead to another negative news explosion. I have no interest in this scandal at all. Eric McErlain at OffWing has been following the story here, here, and here.

Before learning who the Sharks will face in the second round, it time for me to cleanse the palette with some other sports photos:

Stanford tennis

Amber Liu from Stanford, 2003 NCAA womens singles champion, serving against UCLA.

Chico vs Oregon womens rugby

Here is Chico State playing against Oregon at a women's rugby qualifier at Stanford. Not sure who this woman is, but I nicknamed her "the refrigerator" because one of her goal line runs reminded me of tackle William Perry running one into the end zone for the Bears.

I have seen NFL hall of famer Ronnie Lott lay out receivers over the middle, Bryan Marchment launch forwards at the blueline, but this hit was bigger than either of them could imagine. Ronnie Lott used to say he knew a hit was big when the crowd went "ohhhh". Well this was a big "oh" hit.

The next round of this women's rugby tournament held at Stanford will be on May 15th or 16th. Someone email me if I am wrong.

Tour de France

Here is an old Tour de France photo from last year. I was going to post a Barry Bonds, or an A's playoff photo but baseball equals boring photos unless you are on the field. Here are more pictures from the Tour.

For those interested in cycling in the Bay Area visit the Hellyer Park Velodrome, or the SF T-Mobile International website. I would recommend the velodrome if you want to have any hope of getting a good photo. At a race you will have to fight a number of people to have a fraction of a second to take a picture of a fast moving subject.

[Update] Firebugg's Game 5 STL-SJ photos. Very well done.

[Update2] Frozen Four championship hockey photos from Monty Rand.

[Update3] Very funny Bonds-Rathje tale of the tape from Mark Purdy.


Shark Notes - Sharks advance to 2nd round

- Time to create another entry in the Sharks Stanley Cup playoff history. There is room for 3 more entries this season.

- If Detroit and Colorado win, the likely 2nd round opponent will be either Vancouver [down 3-2 to Calgary] or Colorado [up 3-1 on Dallas]. While players have to be polite and diplomatic, [we dont care who we face in the playoffs, all the teams will be difficult], Sharks fans have no such obligations.

The young Nashville Predators or Cloutier and Bertuzzi-less Canucks would be a more preferable matchup than facing the Colorado Avalanche.

- Ross McKeon in todays SF Chronicle breaks down the 2nd round scenarios:
If [the Wings and Avalanche win], the list of possible opponents for San Jose narrows to either Vancouver or Colorado. If the Canucks survive their first-round series against Calgary, they will oppose the Sharks. If the Flames upset Vancouver, San Jose will draw Colorado.
- Nice article on game 5 and on Dimitrakos and Korolyuk's contributions this season. Sharks Thornton sits, Blues Mayers takes hit - STL Post Dispatch.

- Best headline: Sharks first in the pool - ESPN. But are they allowed in the deep end?

- Best photo: Osgood reaches for the puck - SF Chronicle photo by Avila Gonzalez from the rafters of the HP Pavilion.

- How did Boston fans respond to a few Montreal fans booing the USA national anthem again? They responded by cheering O Canada from start to finish. Nice work.

- My photos from game1 trickled down to a few of my favorite websites: TheFeeder, Topshelf magazine, and Bluesnet. They also made it to 3 hockey news sites in Finland, Germany, and Estonia.

Last year I was pretty stoked when my photo of JS Giguere made it onto FoxSports and LCShockey. LCShockey.com [no longer updated] was one of the first NHL websites on the net, along with sjsharks.com, and espn.sportszone.com.

Hopefully more pictures will be forthcoming in the next round. I am going to try to submit a gallery to Sportsfan Magazine.

- A couple of emails have been sent in saying local news has not been covering the Sharks enough. Visit Hockey Night in Canada's satellite hotstove, or TSN's audio/video page for more in-depth hockey coverage.

- Getting the first pick overall this year [Alexander Ovechkin] may not be a slam dunk for the Washington Capitals. Thanks for the link Vitali.

- "The Sharks have developed a reputation around the NHL as a goalie factory." David Pollak in the SJ Mercury.

Hmmm, never heard that mentioned online or in print before.
"Patrick Ehelechner proves the point that the Sharks do not rebuild their depth, the goaltending factory reloads." - PJ Swenson
Visit this article and this article to see what brought it to mind in the first place.

For posterity:

Game 5: Sharks 3 Blues 1
  1 2 3 OT FINAL

San Jose

1 1 1 -

St Louis

1 0 0 -
Smith goal [+1]
Savage goal, 4 shots [even]
Goc 1st NHL point, assist [+1]

Game 4: Sharks 4 Blues 3
  1 2 3 OT FINAL

San Jose

1 2 1 -

St Louis

1 0 2 -
Korolyuk 2 goals [+1]
Thornton 2 goals [+2]
Danton goal [+1]

Game 3: Sharks 1 Blues 4
  1 2 3 OT FINAL

San Jose

0 0 1 -

St Louis

0 2 2 -
Sillinger hat trick [+3]
Drake goal [+2]
Cheechoo goal [-1]

Game 2: Sharks 3 Blues 1
  1 2 3 OT FINAL

San Jose

1 1 1 -

St Louis

0 0 1 -
Marleau hat trick, 2 PP, 1 SH [even]
Nabokov 25 saves, win
Pronger 6 penalties, 12 PIMs [-1]
Tkachuk 4 penalties, 8 PIMs [-1]

Game 1: Sharks 1 Blues 0, OT
  1 2 3 OT FINAL

San Jose

0 0 0 1

St Louis

0 0 0 0
Dimitrakos OT goal [+1]
Nabokov 26 save shutout, win
Osgood 28 save loss


Game Blurbs - Blues Sharks split back-to-back in St Louis

Chris Osgood St Louis Blues

Game 5

The major story line for this game will be injuries to the top three Shark lines. Marco Sturm is out on line 1, Alyn McCauley most likely will be missing from line 2, and Scott Thornton could be missing from line 3 due to a slide tackle near the crease by Cajanek.

Korolyuk, Marleau, Cheechoo and the rest of the Sharks need to power San Jose to a win in game 5. A short series will allow Thornton and McCauley needed time to heal. It remains to be seen what the extent of either injury is, but don't expect the team to make it any clearer.

St Louis needs to impress upon Pronger the cause/effect relationship between stupid penalties and power play goals. He learned of that relationship firsthand twice in game 4. I think it is best for all involved to forget his performance in game 2.

The 3-1 series record is misleading, Chris Osgood has been one of the best goaltenders in the first round. Unless he can score PP goals, the Blues will continue struggling on offense.

Alexander Korolyuk

Game 4:

A few columnists labeled the Blues a step slow in this game, not so. The St Louis Blues carried the play for much of the game, but could not convert on several tantalizing scoring chances. From Mellanby firing the puck off the back of Nabokov, to Tkachuk flubbing a tap-in attempt on an open net, the puck bounced the wrong way for the Blues all night. Chris Pronger's ill advised penalties also compounded the problem.

Blues continue to struggle on power play - STL Post Dispatch

Thornton had 2 goals, and had his best game down low in the series. San Jose needs the Thornton-Ricci-Cheechoo line to be more effective.

Korolyuk also had 2 goals and created a number of scoring chances with his speed and creativity. With McCauley injured, Alex was sprinkled throughout the lineup in several different situations. Ron Wilson mixes and matches lines like Don Cherry mixes plaid and stripes.

From TSN:
"Korolyuk had another outstanding game. It's the kind of a message to the rest of the team that if you do the little things well...You'll end up on top." - Sharks head coach Ron Wilson
Sillinger score a hat trick

Game 3:

The story from game 3 was obviously Mike Sillinger's hat trick to give the Blues life in the series. A lesser sideline was his strength in the faceoff circle [won 14 of 22], especially faceoffs in the Sharks zone. This will be a very important factor in the later games of the series.

The highlight for San Jose was the play of Alexander Korolyuk again. In game 2 Marleau had success shooting from the right faceoff dot, so Korolyuk took a shot from there. Kyle McLaren leveled the most devastating hip check of the playoffs so far, Korolyuk followed with an open-ice hip check in game 3. On one shift late in the game, Korolyuk put a hit on Weight, got back into position, and then went down to block a shot sans a helmet.

[Update] With McCauley and possibly Thornton injured, rookie callup Marcel Goc may get his first playoff start.

[Update2] Registration is now required for all SJ Mercury articles. Here is the FAQ.

[Update3] For those just visiting the site, here is my Sharks-Blues series preview, and my first round playoff predictions. The picks are not looking so bad except for that Colorado-Dallas series.

[Email from Greg] Sharks defenseman Jason Marshall also can log minutes at RW on the checking line. Look for either Davison or Fahey as the 6th defensman if this happens.


Shark Notes Game 2: Pronger implodes - Marleau scores a hat trick

Chris Pronger

- Chris Pronger took 4 penalties [high sticking, high sticking, high sticking, unsportsmanlike conduct] for 8 minutes in the first period alone. He added 2 more penalties [roughing, unsportsmanlike conduct] for 4 minutes late in the third.

- Marleau capitalized on this shocking amount of power play time with a PP goal in the first, a PP goal in the second, and a SH goal in the third, topshelf after a deke to his backhand.

- I thought it was important for Ron Wilson to get the PP and Marleau fired up early. It turns out my unheeded idea of starting Ehrhoff as the 7th dman and double shifting Marleau was not necessary. St Louis felt compelled to give Marleau power play after power play until he could use his speed and size to control the game. Patrick had enough time to saunter over to his favorite spot on the ice, above the right faceoff dot, and fire about a half dozen shots on Osgood.

- The NCAA Frozen Four final takes place later today on ESPN [4PM]. Maine will play Denver for the 2004 NCAA ice hockey championship. Sharks prospect Matt Carle is a defenseman for Denver, and Sharks rookie Niko Dimitrakos played in 3 Frozen Fours with Maine according to the ABC announcers.

- Speaking of announcers, Sharks radio broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky had the best call of the game before the first puck was dropped. He singled out Scott Mellanby as playing with controlled aggression, while Pronger and Tkachuck played aggressive with no control. How prophetic was that call?

Mellanby = 0 penalties
Pronger + Tkachuk = 10 penalties

- Minnesota-Duluth forward Junior Lessard won the Hobey Baker award Friday. The Hobey Baker award is the Heisman equivalent for the best player in college hockey.

- The Cleveland Barons are gearing up for a run at the AHL Calder Cup. The 3-game qualifying round looks like it will begin Thursday unless Cleveland can move into third place and skip the qualifying round. One point behind after a 3-2 win against the Grizzlies Friday, the Barons will face Cincinnati in the season finale tonight.

- From Rambling Hockey fangirl, sung to the tune of Adam Sandler's Hanukkah Song, the Ottawa Senators song.
Here's a little story, about a hockey team. Who may just win the Stanley Cup, but only in their dreams.

The team is from Ottawa, the Senators is their name. Soon to be inducted in the Golfing Hall of Fame.
- Other websites by fans you should check out this postseason: Vancouver Canucks op-ed, Canucks Corner, On the Wings, Offwing Opinion, BluesNet, TheFeeder, TMLfans, Devils Rule, Spacemans Abode, and even though they lost the first overall pick in the draft lottery, LetsgoPens.

We still love you Pittsburgh, there is always Sidney Crosby.

Full list of fan websites here, thanks to Jeff B for creating most of the links on that page.

[Update] STL Post Dispatch - Osgood's knee is no big deal. He will start game 3.

[Update2] Interesting pre-game preperation.


Sharks win! Sharks win!

Niko Dimitrakos

Niko Dimitrakos put in the game winner in OT. Woot!

From TSN:
"I knew Patty was going to the back post, and I knew (Osgood) knew it," Dimitrakos said. "I just thought I had enough room over his shoulder, and I was right." - Niko Dimitrakos
Very quick start to the game as San Jose put relentless pressure on Osgood. He held off the Sharks and gave St Louis time to regain their composure. Osgood's puck handling skills also made it very difficult for San Jose to get any cycling going down low.

The turning point of the game for me was a sprawled Osgood stopping Damphousse point blank in front of the crease. The tempo then slowed down considerably and the Blues were able to play the body a lot more.

Curtis Brown
Chris Osgood en feugo Evgeni Nabokov
faceoff who needs Lemieux we have Mike Rathje
Vincent Damphousse along the boards

Thanks to Peter for the tickets.

[Update] Ray Ratto - St. Louis -- intense and familiar.

[Update2] Mercury News - McCauley's status uncertain.

[Update3] STL Post Dispatch - Possession is 9/10ths of the way to slow San Jose.


Sharks vs Blues preview

Keith Tkachuk playoffs

As I mentioned earlier, San Jose rolls three lines that can score. Marleau has only 1 goal in 18 games but Vincent Damphousse is hot. Thornton and Ricci have been feeding pucks to Cheechoo, who will shoot the puck no matter where he is on the ice. Korolyuk-McCauley-Ekman is probably the top line on the Sharks. They can cycle the puck and create a number of scoring chances with their speed.

With Tkachuk, Mayers, Demitra and Mellanby, St Louis will play a physical game not unlike the Sharks under Darryl Sutter. They will pile bodies in front of the crease, and try to slow down the tempo of the game. St Louis has the ability to capitalize on turnovers, but not the blazing speed needed to get past the Sharks defense.

Edge slightly to San Jose.

San Jose has one of the best defensive corps in the league. Rathje and McLaren take up a lot of space and force opponents to change their attack. Hannan and Stuart have improved every year, but need to get more pucks on the net. Chris Pronger has racked up another Norris type season after coming back from a gruesome wrist injury. With MacInnis, Jackman and Khavonov injured, the Blues will lean heavy on veterans Murray Baron and Eric Weinrich.

Edge to San Jose.

Evgeni Nabokov playoffs

San Jose has two playoff caliber goaltenders but unfortunately it is likely only Evgeni Nabokov will see the light of day in the postseason. After getting defensive player of the month honors in February, he struggled only to right himself down the stretch. Blues netminder Chris Osgood received defensive player of the month honors for March. His play helped propel St Louis into the playoffs. A hot goaltender is the most important factor in the postseason, and Osgood is capable of stealing the series.

Edge slightly to St Louis

[Special Teams]
San Jose has struggled on the power play [16.6%-13th] this season. They have had problems getting goals or even shots on net from the blue line, and losing Marco Sturm has hurt. On the penalty kill the Sharks are much more effective [85.3%-6th]. St Louis is strong on the PP [17.9%-9th], but they did give up 11 short handed goals against. On the penalty kill, the Blues were a little less effective [84.6%-15th].

Edge slightly to San Jose.

Prediction: San Jose in six.

[Update] St Louis Post-Dispatch picks Sharks in six.

[Update3] ESPN predicts San Jose in five.

[Email from Vitali] SJ-STL preview from the Toronto Star. According to the Star the top three Blues lines will be Demitra-Cajanek-Tkachuk, Savage-Weight-Mellanby and Drake-Sillinger-Mayers.

[Exclusive photo: Chris Pronger arrives in San Jose]

Chris Pronger in San Jose


First round playoff prognostications

Miikka Kiprusoff and my playoff predictions

My first round playoff predictions article is up.

Last year I went 7-8 overall, and flubbed my Stanley Cup final prediction. This year I vow I will not pick against Martin Brodeur just to make a series more watchable.

My Sharks-Blues preview is coming up tomorrow.

[Site Note] One other thing I should mention, my webhost just started monitoring bandwidth. Feel free to use the pictures on this website for whatever you like, just save them to your computer instead of copying a link from here.

I turned off Google Images completely, it was starting to garner an insane amount of traffic.

I will cover several gigabytes of bandwidth for April, but if the site shuts off the bandwidth I purchased will have been exceeded. Hit the Paypal donation button on the bottom to help me cover more bandwidth.

I should be able to come up with some interesting stuff for the playoffs.


Tale of a radio listener

[En route from Sacramento to SJ]

Sacramento: KCBS 740, score updates every 15 minutes.

Benecia: Faint signal from KFOX interspersed with a strong signal from an alt-rock station in Sacramento. Los Angeles scores two goals to build a 3-1 lead. At this point I want to hear 'the red' by Chevelle a little more than the Sharks slide into the playoffs with two straight losses.

Concord: KFOX signal gets a little stronger. Cechmanek sounds solid. Cechmanek and Cloutier, back-to-back hot goaltending. Not a good sign.

Sunol: Los Angeles Kings take a late penalty. Mountains causing quite a bit of signal switching. Sac station is playing '46 and 2' by Tool. Good song. Sharks coach Ron Wilson pulls the goalie and has a 6-on-4 power play. Sharks get the faceoff, to Damphousse, Stuart shoots, goooooaaaaaalllll, then Tool.

Sunol grade: In my old rear engine 411 volkswagon I used to fear the Sunol grade. I would have to get a running 90 mph start only to finish at the top being passed by semis in the slow lane. Now I just feared the radio interference. At the base of the grade I knew it would take about 30 seconds to get to the top. The Sharks got the puck in the zone again, then Tool. At the top of the hill the Sharks announcers were talking about what a great play it was.

880: Driving along the mellifluous San Jose dump, Vincent Damphousse gets the game winning goal. The Sharks close out the season with 3 unanswered goals to record a 104 point season. Entertaining game, entertaining season. Bring on the Blues!


Sharks will face the St Louis Blues in the first round

Chris Pronger is a big whiny defenseman

Now that the Sharks vs Blues matchup is finalized, it is time to re-use this graphic from the playoff series three years ago. It is also time to create a new entry in the Sharks playoff history page.

One of the Blues fans emailed at the time and said I had a reverse mullet. It made me laugh, but this picture is not of me. This English Premier league fan just happened to have a sign about our favorite Blues defenseman. I swear, it is not photoshopped at all. Pronger bashing spans across the Atlantic.

I admire Pronger's return from a horrible wrist injury, but Sharks fans are going to channel their inner Belfour when he comes to the Tank on thursday. I hate to link to a Tom Wheatley article after he started the negative Nolan rumors, but this article is the best recap of what Pronger had to go through to return this season.

Tommorow I will preview the Sharks-Blues series and offer my vaunted predictions for the first round of the playoffs. Last year I went 7-8 picking against the Devils in every round. This year, no rally monkey, no Roy, no Hasek, no Vitamin G, no clear Stanley Cup favorites.

Not that I would ever pick a favorite.

[Update: ESPN started its SAN-STL playoff page.]

[Update2: John Buccigross asks Jonathan Cheechoo eight questions, and gives his first round playoff predictions. This blog is all ESPN today.]


Sharks 2003-2004 Pacific Division champions

pacific division champions
The championship banner above will now have company next year [preview]:
pacific division champions

A few days after reaching their first ever 100 point season, the Sharks clinched a second Pacific Division championship in 3 years. With one more goal, San Jose will have surpassed its goal total of last year [214], while registering 63 less goals against [176].

Scoring 2 goals against the Kings, Alyn McCauley became the 5th Shark to reach the 20 goal plateau [Marleau 28, Cheechoo 28, Ekman 22, Sturm 21, McCauley 20]. Alexander Korolyuk is making a late run for 20. He needs 2 goals in his last 2 games.

The Sharks power play is ranked 13th in the NHL at 16.5%. Maybe another Mike Rathje experiment as a forward on the PP is in order? San Jose ranks 8th overall in the NHL with an 85.1% on the penalty kill.

Both goalies, all three including Kiprusoff, are near the top of the league in goals against average and save percentage [Nabokov 12th-2.19, 8th-.922; Toskala 7th-2.02, 3rd-.932] . Nabokov will see a majority of the minutes in the playoffs, but that is a shame. Vesa Toskala is Nabokov minus the swagger, but with the same positioning, patience and quickness.

Nabokov recently racked up defensive player of the week honors to go with his previous defensive player of the month honors.

Bottom line for San Jose: make it past the second round, do not lose to Dallas, and this season will be a success. The bar has been set.