Season over with a 3-1 loss in game 6, Flames win series


Home bad. Road good.

No goals for San Jose in game 5

After a 1st period turnover led to a Jarome Iginla breakaway goal, San Jose had a chance to come back and tie the game.

Alexander Korolyuk shot a puck that trickled by Miikka Kiprusoff, but the business end of the Calgary netminder fell backward and trapped the puck before it crossed the blueline. Shortly after, Calgary capitalized on yet another San Jose Shark turnover and never looked back in the game.

Another goal on another Shark turnover gave the Flames a 3-0 victory as they look forward to game 6 in Calgary.

Alyn McCauley Miikka Kiprusoff
Game 5 faceoff San Jose Sharks hockey fans
game 5 national anthem

The media has been in full on "I told you so" mode after this Calgary blowout. It is amazing how quickly the experts are able to shift their focus.

All I can say about San Jose is that not getting the puck deep, and costly turnovers at the blueline, have killed them the entire series. Darryl Sutter has his club primed. If San Jose can not get the puck deep against Calgary in game 6, the Sharks will lose.

[Update] Ron Wilson saw loss coming - Calgary Sun.

[Update2] Short-staffed San Jose makes costly errors - ESPN

[Email from Chris] My brother Chris wanted me to include his photo of Sharkie welcoming Calgary Flames fans to San Jose.

SJ Sharkie

Where are our seats? Must be in the front row!


The book on Miikka Kiprusoff

Miikka Kiprusoff Calgary Flames

San Jose traded Miikka Kiprusoff this season only to watch him record the lowest GAA [1.69] by any goaltender in the modern era.

Sharks goaltending coach Warren Strelow described Kiprusoff as a combination goalie, skilled at playing upright and going into the butterfly to protect down low.

STRENGTHS: strong positioning, athletic, explosive side-to-side speed.

WEAKNESSES: can be too agressive, puck handling.

When Calgary traded for Kiprusoff I mentioned that he was quick and athletic, without a doubt a #1 goaltender. My only problem with Miikka was that occasionally he was so eager to make the first save that he played himself out of position.

The biggest adjustment Kiprusoff made this season was being more patient in net. Miikka stays in position and flashes his speed and acrobatic saves when needed. His play is amplfied by a stiff Calgary defense that clears bodies and pucks in front of him.

Calgary Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff

Daren Elliot breaks down Miikka Kiprusoff for Sports Illustrated, and the Hockey Forecaster offers the consensus pre-season scouting opinion of Kiprusoff for the Toronto Star.

Conclusion: San Jose needs to get in front of Kiprusoff in order to score consistently. Deflections and screened shots may be the story of this series for San Jose.

[Update from Offwing] Gotta sit Chris Simon - Calgary Sun

[Update2] Korolyuk wielding a big stick - Ross McKeon.


Shark Notes - weekend edition

- By popular request, my play-by-play of the Jason Marshall vs Ville Nieminen fight on Sunday.
They drop the gloves, Marshall pushes Nieminen up against the glass, one nuggie by Nieminen draws two hard right hands by Marshall that connect, one Marshall uppercut lands one Nieminen overhand right misses, another Marshall right lands one misses, Nieminen grabs Marshall's face Marshall misses with a left, Nieminen pushes Marshall up against the glass Marshall left misses, linesman jump in to to stop the fight.
How this fight was described by some analysts as a draw is beyond me.

- Games 1 and 2: Sharks go 0-7 on the power play and lose. Games 3 and 4: Sharks go 3-11 on the power play and win.

- Ex-Shark and current Flyer defenseman Marcus Ragnarsson was knocked out of the playoffs with a hand injury.

- Congratulations to the United States national team on qualifying for the 2006 Winter Olympics with a bronze medal in the IIHF World Hockey Championships. Congratulations to the Canadian national team for earning a gold medal with a 5-3 victory over Sweden.

- Sharks coach Ron Wilson will coach the USA side in the 2004 World Cup that starts at the end of August. Sharks captain Patrick Marleau was named to the Canadian side.

- Congratulations to me for a 3:30 finish in the San Francisco Bay-to-Breakers race. The best moment of the race was when team Elvis sprinted with the lead racers [mostly from Kenya] for about a block.

[Email from Chris] This is probably the most insulting article I've ever read by a Bay Area columnist: Sharks fans coming of age. Fans flex their hockey brains - Ray Ratto. [I have to agree with Chris. You would think 13 years in the league would bury this kind of sentiment.]


Bonus Stanley Cup photos

Stanley Cup championship trophy

Posting these two pictures is probably going to crash my server, but it will crash for a worthy cause.

[Bonus points if you can find Ray Bourque's or Bobby Orr's blurry name. I can only make out one.]

If they let me set up with a tripod for 2 minutes, these shots would be perfect.

Stanley Cup championship trophy


Adjustments for game 3

Down two games to nothing, Sharks coach Ron Wilson needs to make adjustments in order for the Sharks to play better in game 3. My suggestions:

- Start Vesa Toskala. Evgeni Nabokov carried this team for two rounds, but San Jose has 2 playoff caliber goaltenders. Toskala has the same patience and positioning as Nabokov, without the confident swagger. For the goalies the rest of the playoffs, win and you stay in.

- Start Marcel Goc. Coach Ron Wilson refers to this rookie as the closer due to his production [goal, assist] with limited ice time in the NHL [2 playoff games, under 10 minutes total]. Wilson should just motion with his left arm instead of tapping him on the shoulder for a shift.

- Double shift Marleau. The best players need to be the best players. A two goal lead is the worst lead in hockey. Players need to give 110 percent. Add whatever cliche you like, but double shift Marleau on the 1st and 4th lines. Force him to dominate this game or have his legs fall off trying.

- Faceoffs. San Jose went from bad to worse, they must improve. Fall on it, fire it into the stands, do whatever it takes to not lose a draw in your own zone.

- Calgary ice surface. Much better than in SJ, the players will be flying, pucks sliding along the ice instead of bouncing over sticks. Utilize team speed.

- No more turnovers at the blueline. Either dump the puck or carry it in, but get the puck deep. Losing the puck high led to too many odd man rushes which sank the Sharks in game 1 and 2.

[Update] Kyle McLaren may play in game 3 - Darren Sabedra.

[Update2] Best place to watch a Sharks game - Mark Whittington.


Stanley Cups are for closers only

Let me have your attention for a moment. Because what are you talking about, what goalie you traded, a former coach you used to play for, coming out flat and being embarrassed 4-1 in the second game of the Western Conference Finals?

Lets talk about something important. Put that Stanley Cup down. Stanley Cups are for closers only. You think I am ******* with you, I am not ******* with you. I am here from downtown, on a mission of mercy.

Your name is Marleau? You call yourself a captain you son of a *****. [I dont have to listen to this.] You certainly dont.

Because the good news is, your fired. The bad news is you got, all of you got, one game to earn your jobs back. Starting with Thursday night. Oh, have I got your attention now? Good.

We are adding a little something to this months Stanley Cup playoffs. As you all know, first prize is a Stanley Cup championship. Anybody want to see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives, third prize is your fired.

You get the picture?

[From the film Glengarry Glenross. I highly suggest Sharks coach Ron Wilson makes this team watch it before game 3.]


What it is all about

I should probably talk about how the Sharks lost two straight games, or take a photo gallery for Off Wing Opinion, but something else got in the way.

A little trophy stopped by my neck of the woods. You may have heard of it.

It is called the Stanley Cup.

Stanley Cup

The cup will visit the Sportmart Wednesday in Sunnyvale [4-8PM], and Thursday at the Great Mall [4-8PM].

After taking your picture with the cup [the photos above are from my camera], they give you a card with a number on it. You take that number and log-on to bringthecuphome.com. The photo will be available online for 6 months.

Thanks to all the people shopping in the online store. I made a donation to Hockey Fights Cancer for myself, and another for all the fans who have helped out this site.

[Update] Kyle McLaren scratched with an upper body injury.


Sharks vs Flames - game 1 Western Confernce final photos

Alexander Korolyuk crashes into Miikka Kiprusoff

Game one of this series was an exciting, but tumultuous affair. The momentum swung wildly from a quick 2-0 Calgary lead, to a San Jose comeback, to both teams trading goals in the third.

There was a low, building roar from the fans during the first half of the overtime period. Calgary defenseman Steve Montador ended the game with a goal on a bad SJ line change.

Miikka Kiprusoff made 49 saves in an outstanding performance. During the breaks, he was still bobbing and weaving in net, making saves in his head.

I knew my seat was behind the protective netting, so this batch of photos focused on the great Calgary and San Jose fans that attended the game.

Sharks fan Calgary fans Shark fan
Calgary fans Shark fan

Thanks to Peter and Kevin for the tickets.

[Email from Sarah] Sharks programmed for success under Wilson, Sharks thriving with technical support - Washington Post.

[Update] Alexander Korolyuk is having a breakout postseason, and his old coach can not help but notice. Korolyuk makes good first impression - Tim Kawakami.

[Bonus photo] By request. Is this the first time the "plaid one" has been in San Jose?

Don Cherry in San Jose.


Sharks-Flames series preview

Jarome Iginla warms up for game 1


San Jose is rolling three scoring lines and a checking line that knocks in the occasional goal. The Ekman/McCauley/Korolyuk and Thornton/Ricci/Cheechoo lines are trying to recover after losing McCauley and Thornton to injuries in the earlier rounds. Calgary relies more on its top end for scoring [Iginla, Conroy, Gelinas], but in order to score enough goals to advance they will need offense from a lot of unexpected players.

Edge to San Jose.


San Jose has a top four blueline that is the best in the league [Rathje, Hannan, Stuart, McLaren]. They will have to change from defending two star-studded lineups to playing a solid defensive system against Calgary where any player could hurt them. Calgary is trying to duck tape its defensive core together after serious injuries: Denis Gauthier [leg] and Toni Lydman [upper-lower body]. San Jose's speed up front will create a lot of matchup problems for Calgary defenseman.

Edge to San Jose.

Miikka Kiprusoff warms up for game 1


This looks to be the most exciting angle of this series. Evgeni Nabokov [1.51 - GAA, .949 - sv%] with the confidence and swagger, coming off a solid performance against all world Colorado vs Miikka Kiprusoff [1.95 - GAA, .931 - sv%], who faces an inordinate amount of shots nightly and seems to improve with the task. Kiprusoff recorded the best goals against average [1.69] in the modern era, Nabokov won the Calder trophy in 2001 as the best rookie in the league. Time to determine who the number one goalie should have been.

Sharks backup Vesa Toskala will have something to say about that discussion in years to come.

Edge slightly to Calgary.

[Special Teams]

In the playoffs San Jose is [6th-13.3%] on the power play and [3rd-91.8%] on the penalty kill. San Jose occasionally struggles to get shots on net during the man advantage, but the penalty kill is strong.

Calgary is [10th-11.1%] on the power play and [13th-82.3%] on the penalty kill. Calgary needs to put bodies in front of Nabokov on the power play or he will stop any puck he sees.

Edge slightly to San Jose.

San Jose will win the series in six games


Playoff Predictions

Nikolai Khabibulin still has the best name in hockey

After being Shark-and-Awed in the first round [3-5], putting up a respectable [3-1] in the second round, it is time for me to finally break .500 with my third round predictions.

[1] Tampa Bay vs [3] Philadelphia

This is going to be one of the most interesting matchups of the playoffs. Philadelphia is going to try to shorten the ice and put a hurt on the Tampa forwards. 6-5, 220 lbs Keith Primeau is dominating on both ends of the ice, for my money he is the most valuable player in the postseason so far. The Flyers are so deep up the middle [Primeau, Handzus, Roenick, Zhamnov] and on the left side [LeClair, Recchi, Gagne] that shutting them down is not really an option.

The perennial Flyer goaltending question has been answered, and that answer is Robert Esche. If he happens to go down, backup Sean Burke is more than capable of stealing a game or three.

Tampa had the most potent offense in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, two series victories against Montreal and the NY Islanders have not prepared the Lightning for what is coming. The Flyers are going to pound on St. Louis, Richards, Modin, Lecavalier and Stillman.

Tampa has a warrior in Dave Andreychuk [6-4, 220lbs], but how the Lightning respond to the physical play will determine who controls the series. Either Philly will hammer them enough to slow them down and limit the scoring chances, or missed checks and bad penalties will allow Tampa Bay time to set up one of the best offenses in recent memory. I guess since I am forced to make a call, I have to choose the latter. [Nikolai Khabibulin still has the best name in hockey].

Tampa Bay in seven.

[2] San Jose vs [6] Calgary

My full playoff preview for this matchup will be out tomorrow. I will be at the game, so look forward to a few pictures.

San Jose in six.

[Update] The TSN prediction monkey takes the Lightning and the Flames. THE MONKEY IS WRONG! Half wrong anyway.

[Update2] Lots of Sharks-Flames series predictions at Calgarypuck.com.

[Update3] ESPN predicts the Sharks in six.

[Update4] The governator won't terminate the Flames, declines to make a wager on the series. He must be a Kings fan.


How the Flames reached the Conference Finals

Miikka Kiprusoff will face the San Jose Sharks in round three

Calgary has a unique chance of defeating 3 division champions on its way to a Stanley Cup berth [Vancouver-Northwest, Detroit-Central, San Jose-Pacific]. The Flames would face a fourth upon reaching the finals [Philadelphia-Atlantic, Tampa Bay-Southeast].

A brief look at how the Calgary Flames reached the second round.

Calgary defeated Vancouver 4-3.

Game 1: [L 3-5], Canucks scored 4 PP goals, the Flames scored 2 on the man advantage.

Game 2: [W 2-1], Iginla and Lombardi score in a 2-1 Flames win.

Game 3: [L 1-2], Vancouver's Dan Cloutier injured, 0-7 on the PP, Hedberg 19 saves, Matt Cooke GW goal.

Game 4: [W 4-0], Miikka Kiprusoff 20 save shutout win, Calgary ends 0-22 series PP streak.

Game 5: [W 2-1], Jarome Iginla GW goal on a deflection, Canucks bench Hedberg, start rookie Alex Auld.

Game 6: [L 4-5 OT], Brendan Morrison GW goal in third overtime for a 5-4 Canucks win.

Game 7: [W 3-2 OT], Martin "Jello" Gelinas series winning goal in OT as the Flames down the Canucks 4-3.

Calgary defeated Detroit 4-2.

Game 1: [W 2-1 OT], Calgary's Marcus Nilson picks a good time for his first playoff goal, a game winner against Detroit.

Game 2: [L 2-5], Yzerman two second period goals helps Detroit to a 5-2 win.

Game 3: [W 3-2], Former Shark Shean Donovan scores the GW goal in a 3-2 Flames victory.

Game 4: [L 2-4], Curtis Joseph makes 25 saves in a strong performance, Wings win 4-2.

Game 5: [W 1-0], Miikka Kiprusoff 25 save shutout win for Calgary, Yzerman out for season with eye injury.

Game 6: [W 1-0], Martin "Jello" Gelinas scores his second OT series winning goal, Flames down the Red Wings 4-2, Miikka Kiprusoff 38 saves shutout win.

[Update] My favorite lead photo on the SF Chronicle's Sharks section of all time.

[Update2] Not as good as the Ottawa song, but this Calgary Flames song by Willy Hung is close.


Sharks advance to the Western Conference finals for the first time

sharks fans hoist one up

After the Sharks defeated the Colorado Avalanche 4 games to 2, the San Jose coach offered this gem:
To all the Sharks fans, hoist one up for our boys tonight. - Ron Wilson
Consider it done.

Win or lose against Calgary, the curse of 4 second rounds losses is over. The curse of Johan Garpenlov's game 6 shot off the crossbar against Toronto in 94, gone. The curse of 4 straight six goal blowouts at the hands of the once beaten Red Wings, gone. The infamous Teemu Selanne phantom shot on an open Colorado net in 02, gone.

The Conference final against Calgary will pit SJ against a defense-first philosophy under Sutter that likes to punish opposing forwards and capitalize on turnovers. Sharks coach Ron Wilson will try to match that with 3 lines of speed, and 1 line of the grinders Sutter loved to use so much. On the back end the Sharks have dominant top four defensman, and two playoff caliber goaltenders in a one goalie town. Before Kiprusoff was traded, it was three.

Many San Jose fans were quietly happy that Miikka Kiprusoff fast tracked his potential for Sutter in small market Calgary. That happiness is gone. That happiness will soon be replaced by a desire to chant Kipru-soft and cheer monstrous Kyle McLaren hip checks and Forsberg-esque flops into the crease. But not tonight, tonight is the time to hoist one for the Sharks coach, Sharks owners, and the Sharks players that have taken this team somewhere it has never been before. Skoal.

Time for a Western Conference Finals entry in the Sharks playoff history webpage. There is room for one more round this season.

For Posterity:

Game 6: Sharks 3 Avalanche 1
  1 2 3 OT FINAL

San Jose

0 3 0 -


0 1 0 -
Damphousse 3 game goal streak [+1]
Nabokov 28 saves, win
Goc 1st NHL goal [+1]

Game 5: Sharks 1 Colorado 2, OT
  1 2 3 OT FINAL

San Jose

1 0 0 0


0 0 1 1
Sakic 2 goals, 6 shots [+2]
Selanne assist [+1]
Damphousse goal [even]

Game 4: Sharks 0 Colorado 1, OT
  1 2 3 OT FINAL

San Jose

0 0 0 0


0 0 0 1
Aebischer 27 save shutout, win
Nabokov 35 saves, loss
Sakic GW goal, 5 shots [+1]

Game 3: Sharks 1 Colorado 0
  1 2 3 OT FINAL

San Jose

0 0 1 -


0 0 0 -
Nabokov 33 saves, shutout win
Damphousse GW goal [+1]
Hejduk 6 shots [even]

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

San Jose

0 2 2 -


1 0 0 -
Marleau goal, assist [+1]
Cheechoo goal, assist [+1]
Damphousse PP goal, assist, 6 shots [+2]

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

San Jose

3 2 0 -


0 1 1 -
Patrick Marleau hat trick [+3]
Dimitrakos 3 assists [+2]
Forsberg goal [-1]


The book on Aebischer

David Aebischer

David Aebischer David Aebischer portrait

David Aebischer
H: 6-1 W: 192
Age: 26
Shoots/Catches: L
Drafted: 1997 [161st]
2004 season: 32-19-9
2004 playoffs: 6-4

Regular season GAA: 2.09
Playoff GAA: 1.99
Regular season save%: .924
Playoff save%: .924

From former goalie and SI analyst Darren Eliot: the book on David Aebischer.
STRENGTHS: solid butterfly stance, quick feet, size.

WEAKNESSES: puck handling, blocker.
Conclusion: San Jose will need to pile bodies in front of the crease and aim high, preferably blocker side. Getting big goalies moving side-to-side will open up the five hole.

Here is an example of creating traffic that I posted in my Avalanche-Sharks series preview:
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

[Update] Also of interest to Sharks fans, Belfour.com.

[Update2] Thornton doubtful for game 6.


Shark Notes - dont let Sakic score edition

Joe Sakic

- I am not going to say Joe Sakic looks like Kim Jong Il, I am not going to say they have spent their way to a Stanley Cup in the past, all I am going to say is do not let Joe Sakic beat you in game 6.

- Sharks coach nips at couple of players - Rocky Mountain News
A couple of guys have failed miserably to get the job done. So this is going to be a great opportunity for people to show what they're all about. Do you have what it takes when it really matters?
- Ron Wilson
- ESPN broke down the Sharks struggles on offense succinctly. Marleau first three games: 4G,2A,10 shots. Marleau last two games: 0G,0A,5 shots. Some of the heros in the first round against St Louis need to step up against Colorado.

- Paul Kariya might be available for game 6. It looks like Rob Blake and Alex Tanguay are still questionable.

- USA qualifies for the World Cup quarterfinals guaranteeing a top eight finish in the tournament. The Americans defeated Ukraine 7-1, defeated Russia 3-2 [under protest], and lost to Sweden 1-3. Go USA!

- Sharks prospect Garret Stafford is out of the hospital after a brutal two-handed slash to the face. The Cleveland Barons have his official statement.

I agree with the sentiment of the Barons coach that Alexander Perezhogin should never play in the league again. The Cleveland Barons lost their semifinal playoff series to the Hamilton Bulldogs 4-2.

- Hockeys Future has a great interview with Sharks prospect Steve Bernier. The 6-2, 233lbs right wing had 36 goals and 46 assists this year for the QMJHL Moncton Wildcats. 13th best point total in the league.

Freddy Adu

- Busy afternoon Saturday in San Jose. While the Sharks lost to the Avalanche 2-1 in OT, the much celebrated Freddy Adu made his first ever start in Major League Soccer. DC United tied the San Jose Earthquakes 1-1.