Google Street View of NHL Arenas: HP Pavilion in San Jose

HP Pavilion arena in San Jose

After reading about the new Google Street View feature allowing 360-degree interactive photographs of locations on Google Maps, I plugged in HP Pavilion in San Jose (525 W. Santa Clara St. San Jose, CA). If the street view image does not immediately come up, double click on the yellow figure of a person on the map. You can drag that figure up and down the streets of San Jose, or spin the photograph in any direction for a new field of view.

Some of the images are taken by Immersive Media from a VW Bug equipped with an 11-sided camera. Photos of the car and the camera are available from one of the people working on the project here. Others are taken by Google using their own technology.

There are no interactive street views of The Honda Center in Anaheim, or Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, but there are the usual satellite images available from Google Earth.

Send me an email if you find another NHL arena or hockey arena listed with Google Street View.


Slovenija hockey update: 2007 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship

Slovenia Finland photo Grega Juvancic
Slovenia Sweden photo Grega Juvancic
Slovenia team photo Grega Juvancic

Slovenian photographer Grega Juvancic sent in a few photos from the 2007 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championships in Germany. Slovenija is undefeated in the tournament after a 4-3 win over Sweden, and a 2-1 win over Finland. Team USA lost to the Czech Republic 3-4 to open the World Championships, before blowing out Austria 10-1.

Grega's inline hockey photo galleries from Germany are available here and here. Official tournament statistics from the IIHF are available here.

USA Hockey.com has more details on the 2007 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship from Landshut and Passau, Germany:

The 2007 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship will include 16 teams divided into the A-Pool and B-Pool World Championship. The defending-champion United States will compete in the A Pool alongside Finland, Sweden, Germany, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria and Slovenia. Great Britain, Brazil, Japan, Hungary, Australia, Namibia, South Africa and New Zealand will comprise the B Pool...

Darren Turcotte (Brentwood, Tenn.), who led the United States to the gold medal at the 2006 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship, is the head coach of the 2007 U.S. InLine National Team. Turcotte will be assisted by Tim Graham (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), who also serves as a District Coach-in-Chief for USA Hockey InLine … In the 11-year history of the IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship, the United States has earned gold medals in 1996, 1997, 1999, 2004 and 2006; silver medals in 1998 and 2001; and bronze medals at the 2000, 2003 and 2005 tournaments.

[Update] Grega Juvancic previously contributed photos from the World Championship Group B tournament in Slovenia on this blog post. Hvala lepa!!

Eric McErlain previews Anaheim-Ottawa Stanley Cup Final for Deadspin

Anaheim Ducks Teemu Selanne

Eric McErlain of Offwing, AOL, and NBCsports, previewed the Anaheim Ducks vs Ottawa Senators Stanley Cup Finals this weekend for Deadspin.com.

McErlain discussed Ottawa's bankruptcy filing to President's Trophy run in 2002-03, the stability brought in by new owner and pharmaceutical magnate Eugene Melnyk, goaltender Ray Emery fight with an opponents enforcer, and the successful moves made by general manager John Muckler to bring in Dany Heatley, and defenseman Joe Corvo and Tom Preissing.

On the Anaheim Ducks side, McErlain posted about the loss of the "Mighty" adjective, the move from Disney ownership to Anaheim businessman Henry Samueli, the effect of general manager Brian Burke's "outsized personality" on the franchise, and the move that put the Anaheim Ducks in the Stanley Cup Finals, the acquisition of Chris Pronger. Pronger, coincidentally, willed the Edmonton Oilers into the Stanley Cup Finals one year earlier.

Eric also highlights the key matchups of the series:

While the Senators have held a physical edge in every series thus far in the playoffs, they're going to meet their match in an Anaheim team that's gotten used to running their opponents off the ice. In that light, I can't help but to expect this series to become a game of attrition, with Ottawa's depth both up front and on the blue line to exact a toll on a Ducks team that may rely too much on Pronger, Scott Niedermayer and Beauchemin -- a trio that regularly puts in 30 plus minutes a night during the playoffs.

The next critical matchup has to be Ottawa's top line of Heatley, Alfredsson and Spezza against Anaheim's checking line of Travis Moen, Rob Niedermayer (too many Niedermayers!) and Sami Pahlsson. Simply put, we're looking at the best scoring line in the league against the best checking line in the league. Given that Ottawa's trio have been just about the surest bet in the postseason, my best guess is that things aren't going to change now. But if they fail, I'm not sold on the ability of Ottawa's other three lines to pick up the slack.

The bottom line is that this is Anaheim's series to win or lose. The Ottawa Senators are more potent offensively than any team the Ducks have faced in the playoffs, and they have a dangerous power play, but the Stanley Cup Finals will turn on whether or not Anaheim can hold it together 5-on-5 and stay out of the penalty box. With a penchant for costly mistakes, meltdowns, and team-wide self destruction, the Anaheim Ducks can not afford Ottawa the opportunities it gave away in the Western Conference Finals to Detroit.

[Update] The Finish Line: A look at the road to the Stanley Cup Final - OC Register.

[Update2] Ducks ready to climb the biggest step; They have talked all season about winning the Stanley Cup, and Monday they begin playing for it when they face the Senators. - Los Angeles Times.

Products of the NHL's expansion in the 1990s, the Ducks and Senators may not be the desired big-market matchup from a ratings standpoint, but they bring the possibility of a long, entertaining series because both are willing to push the action.

The Ducks are in the Cup finals for the second time in four seasons, but this version hardly resembles the 2003 group that shocked the hockey universe. That team might have had goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, but there was no Pronger, Scott Niedermayer or Teemu Selanne...

Ottawa isn't only playing for its first Cup since the franchise's first incarnation (it last won a Cup in 1927). Save for diehard Toronto Maple Leafs fans, the Senators have an entire nation behind them.

It is always the Maple Leafs fans.

Prospect Review: Jakub Voracek

Jakub Voracek

Hundreds of 17-19 olds will be selected in the upcoming 2007 NHL Entry Draft on June 22nd, but each prospect has their own unique story of how they arrived in a certain draft position. Whether they are the first overall selection, or a seventh rounder, each player has had defining moments in their hockey careers that have shifted their respective stocks for the NHL Draft. One of these young men is the talented Czech winger Jakub Voracek. An enticing combination of size, speed, skill, and play making ability, Voracek is destined to be a top five pick in this years draft.

Jakub Voracek
Born: Slany, Czech Republic
Position: Right Wing
Shoots: Left
Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight: 188 lb (85 kg)

August 2004, Czech U-16 Team: On the charts.
Voracek is officially on every NHL team's radar. He emerges as one of the top three players at his age level in the Czech Republic. He will now begin to play under a microscope at every game by NHL scouts.

March 2005, U-17 Four Nations Tournament: Stock goes up rapidly.
Voracek generates the most buzz of any prospect, despite being the youngest player in the tournament. He finished as the Czechs best overall player in their three games played.

September 2005, U-18 Junior Cup: Stock slips.
Shows glimpses at this major tournament, but does not contribute much offensively. Voracek struggled with inconsistency while others his age shine and move up the boards.

April 2006, U-18 Championships: Stock shoots way up.
Voracek puts himself on the map as a probable top 10 selection in the 2007 draft with a dominant performance as an underager. Displayed Marian Hossa-like drives to the net, along with the dynamic combination of size and skill he is known for at the age of 16.

September 2006, U-18 Junior Cup: Blue chip status solidified.
Leads the Czechs in scoring and is the tournament's most commanding performer. Shows the ability to score and create along with a great set of hands.

October 2006, First Season In North America With The Halifax MooseHeads of the QMJHL: Ranks in as #1 prospect for the 07 draft.
Flies out to a fast start in the QMJHL, his game transitions flawlessly to North America and he is instantly Halifax’s best player. Scouting services and NHL scouts agree he is the best player available for the 2007 draft.

December 2006, World Junior Championships: Stock plummets.
Complains about limited ice time and does not register a point until the Czechs final game. Invisible while on the ice, as American right winger Patrick Kane and Russian right winger Alexei Cherepanov are dynamic offensive game breakers. They are seeing their respective stocks soar past Voracek's. This is a big tournament and his invisible performance leaves a very sour taste for many NHL scout's.

January 2007, Second half of QMJHL season: Stock rebounds.
Does not sulk like Angelo Esposito did after he was cut by team Canada, Voracek reasserts himself as a dominant player in the QMJHL. Looks like a man possessed, and scouts begin to raise him back up their rankings. Absolutely dominated games.

January 2007, CHL Top Prospects game: Stock rises further.
Shows up with a good, but not great performance, at the CHL top prospects game. Voracek does not drive the net as much, instead electing to be more of a setup man in this game. Displayed soft hands, great vision, and underrated creativity as the top playmaker on the ice. Scored a highlight goal top shelf with a great snapshot in the slot.

April 2007, QMJHL Playoffs: Stock soars.
Dominates the Moncton Wildcats as he singlehandidly wills the Mooseheads to the second round on the strength of his dynamic performance. Scouts love the fact that he can elevate his game to a new level, and his stock rises immediately. The fact that he can dictate not just a game, but a playoff series on his own does not go unnoticed. A few NHL scouts have Voracek back at the top spot in their rankings yet again.

April 2007, World U-18’s: Stock takes slight hit.
Joined the Czech Republic late in the tournament only to see the Czech's get relegated by Germany. Voracek struggled to make any impact in the few games he did play.

[Note] Max will preview individual prospects up until the June 22nd NHL draft in Columbus.

Max Giese: AHL Western Conference Playoff prospect review

A review of prospects from the American Hockey League's Western Conference Playoffs:

The AHL Hamilton Bulldogs received a huge boost when rookie goaltender Carey Price reported to the team after his season in the WHL was over. It did not take long for Price to adjust to the league, and he has started every playoff game for the Bulldogs. Price, the former 5th overall selection the 2005 draft, carries an impressive pedigree as the best player on this year's gold medal winning Team Canada WJC team. He has dominated most of his starts as a prototypical butterfly goalie, with flawless mechanics, and tremendous feet. His lateral movement is at an elite level, and he is possibly the best goaltender outside of the NHL in terms of puck handling skills.

Another Montreal first round pick is impressing with the Hamilton Bulldogs, as center Kyle Chipchura has blossomed into a leader in only his second season in the AHL. Chipchura is a gritty player with a mature two-way game. In a lot of ways he plays a similar game to San Jose's Marcel Goc. Kyle surprises many with an underrated skill level, soft hands, and his ability to create offense.

Chicago is home to the perennial AHL power house Wolves, who had another long playoff run this season. Much of this was due to the emergence of two rookie wingers. Former Colorado College standout Brett Sterling has been phenomenal all season long, leading the league in goal scoring. Sterling continued his stellar play in the playoffs. He is small but stocky, with a quick set of hands. He has a knack for going hard to the net, and finding quiet areas to get open for his patented one timer. Brett has turned into a feared goal scorer at this level, and is an NHL power play specialist in the making.

While Sterling is receiving all of the accolades, the better pro prospect is Jordan LaValle. The former Quebec Rempart is a big and powerful winger, with a deadly shot and underrated speed. LaValle has blossomed this season into a force at both ends of the ice, and should be on the Atlanta Thrashers opening roster next season.

The Atlanta Thrashers also have a couple prospects on the back end that played critical roles in the Chicago Wolves playoff run. Boris Valabik, the 10th overall selection in the 2004 draft, is a towering defenseman with a nasty mean streak. While his game is better suited for the old NHL, there is still a place in the game for a player like him. He is an intimating physical presence. The biggest knock on Valabik is that he takes far too many undisciplined penalties. Joining Valabik is Nathan Oystrick, a Northern Michigan alumni that plays an aggressive style at both ends. Oystrick is always looking to move the puck up the ice, as well as looking to make the big open ice hit. He is the more NHL ready of the two, and Oystrick could be playing for the Thrashers next season because his powerplay skills are at a premium.

Dallas Stars fans should be excited about the talent they had playing for their farm team in Des Moines, Iowa. The Iowa Stars iced two first round picks on defense in the playoffs, and both impressed but in different ways. 2005 first round selection Mathew Niskanen joined the Stars for the playoff run after signing with Dallas (leaving after his sophomore season with Minnesota Duluth). Niskanen instantly impressed, as his skating is going to be among the NHL's elite for an offensive defenseman. The agility and power behind his quick stride is simply fun to watch. Niskanen is not a one trick pony, as he sees the ice well and can make a great first pass. He also possesses the creativity to quarterback the power play.

2004 first round selection Mark Fristric was also impressive on the back end for the Iowa Stars. Mark is a big stay-at-home defenseman with an adequate physical game to compliment his stellar defensive awareness. The knock on Fristric in his draft year was his skating ability and puck movement, both of which have improved dramatically since. His feet are fine, and his skating is deceptive. When he wants to he in a certain area he can really motor, and can skate around the opposition. While Fristric lacks offensive creativity, he does see the ice well and moves the puck maturely.

While the AHL Milwaukee Admirals where swept in the first round, it did not prevent some of their top prospects from impressing pro scouts. Finnish defenseman Ville Koistonen is looking like a real find from last year's free agent market. While already 26 years old, Ville has a bright future ahead of him as an eceptional skater and passer. He is the kind of defenseman that can flourish in today's NHL. If it was not for the Nashville Predators depth at defense, he would be a lock to play for them in the NHL next season.

Milwaukee's goaltender Pekka Rinne also played vert well, and he appears ready to be the backup next season in Nashville if Chris Mason signs elsewhere. Rinne is a big, but raw goaltender with impressive athleticism. He battled injuries earlier in the season, but finished strong and gave his team a chance to win every night.


Soccer Notes - May 28th

San Jose Earthquakes Major League Soccer

- In preperation for a CONCACAF Gold Cup title defense, the USA men's national team will play a friendly with China at Spartan Stadium in San Jose (June 2nd, 5PM). Team USA will then face Group B opponents Guatemala and Trinidad and Tobago in Carson, before traveling to Foxborough, Massachusetts to play El Salvador.

Mexico leads all CONCACAF nations with 4 Gold Cup titles, the USA is second with 3, and Canada earned its lone Gold Cup in 2000 with a 2-0 win over Colombia. The CONCACAF tournament includes nations from North and Central America, and the Caribbean islands. At large entries are given to three teams from other football confederations.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Houston Dynamo's Brian Ching and Ricardo Clark will miss the friendly in San Jose due to MLS action. They are expected to join the national team before the game against Guatemala. Kasey Keller (Borussia Moenchengladbach), DaMarcus Beasley (PSV Eindhoven), and Clint Dempsey (Fulham) are also expected to participate for Team USA. Tickets for the USA-China friendly on June 2nd are available at ussoccer.com, or ticketmaster.com.

- Bradley sets U.S. sights squarely on Gold Cup - South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Bradley went unbeaten in four games as (Team USA) interim coach, but that was easy compared with having to come up with rosters for two major tournaments -- the CONCACAF Gold Cup and Copa America -- that the U.S. will play consecutively next month. Bradley can't take the same team to both. His European-based players just finished their seasons and need a break before returning to training camps in July. His MLS call-ups just began their season and would have to be away from their clubs for at least a month.

- The new Stanford stadium will host a friendly between English Premiership powerhouse Chelsea, and Mexican League favorite Club America July 14th at Stanford (6PM). Chelsea lost the Premiere League championship this season to Manchester United. Club America lost in the second leg of the Clausura championship final Sunday as Pachuca earned its fifth Mexican League title. Club America's Cuauhtemoc Blanco scored in both of the championship games, and will move to the Chicago Fire for the remainder of the MLS season. Tickets for Chelsea vs Club America are available via the Stanford box office (866-818-0968), or gostanford.com.

Stanford to present elite soccer - SF Chronicle.

Chelsea, coached by the mercurial Jose Mourinho, endured a disappointing finish to its Premier League season, losing the championship to Manchester United. It won the League Cup in February and beat Manchester United for the FA Cup on Saturday, but it lost to Liverpool in the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League on May 1.

- There are several reports that Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolff is ramping up his efforts to bring the San Jose Earthquakes back to the MLS in 2008. More on the story from the SF Chronicle, ESPN Soccernet, Bloomberg, and Sports Illustrated.

- The 2006 MLS Champion Houston Dynamo will visit the White House and President Bush on Tuesday. The Dynamo are only the second MLS champion to be invited, after the D.C. United in 1997.

- The latest member's only update from Soccer Silicon Valley:

We have two important events to tell you about today -- which we urge you to attend -- as well as a couple other items of interest. The two events will take place Saturday June 2, after the US/China match, and Tuesday, June 12.

We'll start with June 12. That day, during the city council meeting beginning at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall, 201 E. Santa Clara St., city manager Les White will be presenting details of the city staff's discussions with Lew Wolff regarding the FMC site for a new stadium project as well as the proposed rezoning of the iStar property near the U.S. 101-Highway 85 interchange. While the city council will not be conducting an official vote on the proposal, we nevertheless need to pack the council's chambers with as many Earthquakes fans as we can. If it is simply impossible for you to attend, please make sure to send a message to Mayor Chuck Reed and the San Jose city council members that you support a new stadium for the Quakes. Contact information is provided on the SSV web site.

On Saturday, June 2, we're throwing a party! SSV and Earthquakes Soccer are joining forces for a USA/China post-game blowout at the Britannia Arms in downtown San Jose. For $30, you'll receive admission to the party on the Brit's wonderful outdoor patio, a hamburger or veggie burger cooked on the grill, fries, cole slaw, baked beans, a drink ticket good for a well drink, beer, wine, or soda, and a raffle ticket. Raffle items will include a variety of Quakes, SSV, and USA soccer items, as well as a total of six pairs of tickets to upcoming Oakland A's games. We'll also be holding a silent auction featuring autographed jerseys, signed A's baseballs, and some other great items. David Alioto and Alexa Jontulovich of Earthquakes Soccer are expected to be there, and we're going to issue personal invitations to the players and coaches of the U.S. National Team as well.

There are only 200 tickets available and they're being sold on a first-come, first-served basis, so when they're gone, they're gone. To purchase yours, go to the SSV web site. THE DEADLINE FOR PURCHASING TICKETS IS WEDNESDAY, MAY 30 AT 2:00 PM. Proceeds from the event will support SSV's continuing mission in serving the soccer community.

This blog will be at the city council meeting June 12th, and a brief report will be posted online.

- With the departure of the Earthquakes in 2005, who moved to Houston and won an MLS title in 2006, there is still plenty of professional, amateur and collegiate soccer available in the Bay Area. The National Premier Soccer League, a sanctioned Division III professional league, features Real San Jose. RSJ faces Fort Collins on June 8th (7:30PM) at Paz Rocha Coliseum inside the Yerba Buena High School.

The USL Premier Development League, the top men's amateur league in the country, features the San Francisco Seals and the San Jose Frogs. The Seals play the Bakersfield Brigade Monday afternoon (1PM) at Negoesco Stadium inside the University Of San Francisco. The SJ Frogs face the San Fernando Valley Quakes this Sunday (6PM) at Pal Stadium in San Jose.

- The San Jose Frogs will host Club Tapatio in an exhibition game on July 20th, a Chivas affiliate playing in the Primera Division A of Mexico. Tickets will be on sale Monday, June 18th at sjfrogs.com.

- Thanks to new advertiser soldoutentertainments.com for sponsoring this site.

[Update] Offwing's Ellen Blanchard posted two photo galleries from the Houston Dynamo's visit to D.C. United here and here. Amazing photos.

[Update2] The California Victory out of San Francisco are part of the United Soccer Leagues First Division. Formerly the A-League, the USL-1 is a professional soccer league equivalent to a second divison level. Several photo galleries are available on the official Victory website here.

[Update3] U.S. Men's National Team head coach Bob Bradley Names 19-Player Roster to Face China at Spartan Stadium on June 2nd - USsoccer.com.


James Toney headlines Fight Night at the Tank in San Jose

Heavyeight James Toney
Fight Night at the Tank Boxing
Welterwieght Karim Mayfield Jorge Padilla

An impressive crowd of 4,269 turned out to see 7-time world champion James "Lights Out" Toney (70-9-3, 43KOs) headline the latest Fight Night at the Tank card Thursday in San Jose. He faced a very game journeyman in heavyweight Danny Batchelder (25-5-1, 12KOs), who was able to land consistently through 10 rounds. Toney's unorthodox defensive style suffered through a lack of speed, a chorus of boos, and a drought of punches, but future ambitions of a title shot seemed to get farther away with his majority decision win (98-92, 97-93, 94-96).

It was a role reversal in the main event. Batchelder forced Toney to come to him, and scored what appeared to be a larger number of clean punches in the process. Toney was able to cut off the ring and occasionally pin Batchelder along the ropes, but he never let loose with his hands to show even a glimpse of his former knockout power. Instead, the 8th ranked heavyweight by the WBC, and 13th ranked heavyweight by fightnews.com earned a win more on name and reputation than his performance in the ring.

The evening began with a major setback. San Jose Super Middleweight Ricardo Cortes (19-1-1, 14KOs) was forced to sit out the co-main event when there were problems with his opponent Marcos Primera's pre-fight MRI. A Welterweight bout between San Francisco fighter Karim Mayfield (2-0-1, 2KOs) and Jorge Padilla (7-3-3, 1KO) was also stopped early after Padilla suffered a gruesome cut over his right eye in the second. Although only scheduled for 4 rounds, a lunging attack from Mayfield and a straight ahead Padilla made even that a distant possibility. On the matchup of styles alone, one of these boxers was going to go down if the fight could have continued.

A preliminary 6-round bout between heavyweights Teke Oruh (13-0-1, 6KOs) and Jason Gavern (11-3-2, 5KOs) was one of the most bizarre events to take place at HP Pavilion. Although there appeared to be some communication problems, Oruh was repeatedly warned about low blows. Just when it seemed Oruh would not be penalized for the entire fight, the referee gave him a one point deduction in the fifth. Gavern knocked down Oruh in the first, tried a rope-a-dope maneuver, and interacted with the crowd while fighting in the later rounds. It did not impress the judges, and Oruh earned a majority decision (57-55, 57-55, 56-56).

The opening 6-round bout between Junior Lightweights Eloy Perez (8-0-1, 1KO) out of Salinas, and Barbaro Zepeda (8-13-1, 2KOs) out of Chicago was possibly the best of the evening. A muscular and overpowering Perez controlled most of the early rounds, before Zepeda landed a few hard shots in the fifth. Both boxers traded punches until the final bell. Eloy Perez earned the win to remain undefeated.

A photo gallery from the American and Metal Fight Night at the Tank is available here. Highlights from past Fight Night's in San Jose are available here, here, here, here, and here. A post from the Best Damn Sports Show boxing event in San Jose (with a cameo by James Toney) is available here. An archive ESPN2 Friday Night Fight from the San Jose Civic Center is available here.

Toney Wins Split Decision In Second Fight Night of the Season - FightnightattheTank.com.

The American Metal and Iron Fight Night at the Tank series will return to HP Pavilion at San Jose on Sept. 13. The action-packed boxing series, which has traditionally included a date in July/August, will forgo their summer date to allow crews working on the HP Pavilion arena enhancement to install the new LED fascia and state-of-the-art scoreboard.

Dylan Hernandez in the Mercury News quoted trainer Freddie Roach on Toney's preperation for the fight, "He really needs to show me he wants to do this. He's not in fighting shape." Toney absorbed a lot of punches, and if he wants to step in against a higher quality opponent, he is going to need to show something more in the interim.

Toney is unimpressive in split-decision victory - Sacramento Bee.

(Toney) has already won one slice of the heavyweight title pie with a unanimous decision over John Ruiz on April 30, 2005. But Toney was stripped of the WBA's strap after testing positive for steroids.

Since then, Toney has beaten Dominick Guinn, fought Hasim Rahman to a draw and dropped two decisions to (Samuel) Peter, the first one a highly disputed split decision. So while Peter is in negotiations to face Maskaev, possibly at Arco Arena, Toney is left to continue his campaign.

"I'm still the answer; I just need an opportunity," Toney said. "After tonight I'm not ready, but it will come. I guarantee you by the end of the year I will be the heavyweight champ, or the people's champ again."

[Update] Toney shows little in win, Crowd jeers aging ex-champ's split decision - SF Chronicle.


More reaction on NBC's decision to pull Ottawa-Buffalo game 5 before overtime for the Preakness

Golden Gate Fields Horse Racing

On Saturday the Buffalo Sabres faced down the history books. Trailing Ottawa 3-0 in a best-of-four Eastern Conference Final series, the realization that only 2 teams rallied back to advance in the NHL's entire 90-year history had to set in. The Sabres took the first step with a 3-2 win in Ottawa, and they returned for an afternoon game 5 at HSBC Arena nationally broadcast on NBC.

It was a tight checking game after two periods. Ottawa started the third trying to protect a 2-1 lead, but things began to turn in Buffalo's favor. Right wing Maxim Afinogenov jumped on a rebound and tucked it past goaltender Ray Emery, and this elimination game was going into overtime.

After a return from a commercial break, there was a short notice from NBC and a graphic: Overtime will be available on Versus except in the Buffalo market. Then the picture switched to a woman interviewing a jockey on a couch. Upon switching to Versus, there was coverage of the America's Cup sailing race for several minutes before the familiar NBC hockey crew magically appeared prior to the start of overtime.

Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson scored the biggest goal in Senators franchise history to win the game in overtime 3-2, clinch the series 4-1, and give the perennial playoff upset a chance to compete for its first Stanley Cup Championship. The entire post-game show I could not help but think if this was the NHL's version of the television Heidi moment.

Eric McErlain off Offwing documented the sustained rage of many fans and members of the media here, the Globe and Mail's James Mirtle and Dallas Stars' Daryl Reaugh contributed similar sentiments. The media reaction to NBC pulling the plug on overtime varied from an embarassment, to shame, to just plain wrong. Canada was upset that its traditional 7PM start for HNIC neccessitated a rare Hockey Afternoon in Canada.

Much of this was piling on, but a deeper look at the numbers was almost as painful watching that jockey on the couch, instead of one of the most important NHL games of the season:

- The overnight ratings for the Preakness Stakes on NBC was a 5.4/13, with the NHL/Versus broadcast of the Ottawa at Buffalo Stanley Cup Playoff Game 5 pulling in a 1.2/3. According to Sports Media Watch, even with the switch the ratings for Game 5 were comparable with the first game of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals between the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes.

- Based on my rudimentary calculations, the NHL/Versus broadcast drew 1,124,040 U.S. households, with the Preakness on NBC garnering 5,554,080 U.S. households. This assumes 1,102,000 households per ratings point.

- NHL spokesperson Jamey Horan offered this initial explanation for why the switch was made: "We were fully aware of NBC's programming commitments following Game 5 between the Sabres and Senators, and the challenges overtime could present for viewers and our network partners. However, our decision to schedule the game with NBC was done to provide the broadcast to the greatest number of viewers."

Fair enough, the NHL and NBC were trying to get the game in front of as many American viewers as possible. BUT, pulling the plug on an elimination game giving one team a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs might just give those casual fans an adverse reaction.

- Did anyone else notice the thousands of enthusiastic Sabres fans outside of HSBC Arena? No other fan base in the NHL has represented their team better this season than Buffalo. Props to NBC for cutting to the cheering mob outside the building after each big play inside the building.

- Richard Sandomir reported in the New York Times that a mishap at the Versus master control in Denver delayed the switch from NBC for at least 2 minutes. Watching sailing made it feel like longer.

Sandomir also quoted NHL VP of broadcasting John Shannon, "Our concern was that people were told to go to Versus, and it wasn't there right away."

This raises three problems. One, those who switched to Versus found a different sport and migrated elsewhere for a warm summer Saturday afternoon. Two, those who happened to get up and grab a beer during intermission returned to a painfully long Preakness preview. Three, the notice to switch to Versus came and went so quickly it could have been a subliminal advertisement. There was no notification of a possible switch during the last 9 minutes of regulation.

- The absolute worst part of this was the fact that NBC pulled the plug 20 minutes prior to the scheduled start of its Preakness programming. Game 5 was slotted to air from 2:00-5:00PM ET, but the game was switched to Versus at 4:40PM. NBC had three choices: switch to Versus at the start the third intermission (which they did), switch to Versus at the start of of its Preakness programming (about 5 minutes into OT), or letting the overtime period run into NBC's Preakness preview (multiple overtime games common in the playoffs).

- The question I did not get to ask NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman when he was in San Jose for Game 4 against Nashville, would have been about the NHL's cooperation with Youtube, Google and Yahoo this season (to help get a little pub from local tech publications and tech blogs), and if the streaming of games on Yahoo or Comcast could make up for cities that did not have access to Versus (there are a few in the Bay Area).

Streaming the games online with either Yahoo or Comcast could have helped allieviate some of the problems NBC faced with switch. Tune into Versus for overtime. Don't have access to Versus? Switch to Yahoo or Comcast. It would have annoyed many of the club and fire weilding journalists, but a big chunk of NHL fans could have made the change seamlessly. Just do not make the switch to CBC or TSN, which block Americans from games they stream online. Or the league could have pointed to video or audio of the game on NHL.com.

- Full disclosure, both NBC and Versus have asked this blog to link to their websites or pre-game shows. Both have done an extraordinary job covering the NHL this season.

The Baltimore Sun has an interesting selection of video and audio from the Preakness weekend. NBCvideo has video of the awards ceremony, an analysis of the win by Curlin, and a breakdown of hard charging Street Sense's close second place finish. It was a great race, and NBC had an isolation camera on Curlin and Street Sense.

[Update] NHL gets its ‘Heidi’ with Sabres-Sens - Buffalo News.

Judging from message boards, blogs and newspapers, never has “Heidi” been typed so often in a 24-hour period. What a pleasant surprise to us pop culture and history buffs.

On Nov. 17, 1968, the Jets led Oakland, 32-29, with 50 seconds left. As the game crossed into prime time in the East and Central time zones, NBC switched to its planned programming, a movie version of Heidi. The network’s office switchboard blew up, especially after a bottom screen crawl told the nation the Raiders had won, 43-32 (after a 43-yard TD pass and a fumble return on the ensuing kickoff).

The Heidi Bowl had few equals until this spring. Not Saturday, but last month. Guess which league suffered? Late in Vancouver and Dallas’ fourovertime masterpiece, an automated switch on some cable systems replaced Versus’ broadcast with an infomercial.

Oops. Heidi II.

[Update2] You can't blame NBC for what they did to the NHL on Saturday - Sports Business News.

[Update3] NHL partnership with NBC does little to sell game in the U.S. - Montreal Gazette.

There are a couple of things worth noting here. The first is that nobody in the NHL was outraged by NBC's action and nobody in the NHL felt it owed an apology to the loyal, if somewhat tiny, fan base that watches games on NBC.

From a business point of view, NBC's decision makes sense. The Preakness drew nearly five times as many viewers, but NBC could have avoided the problem by agreeing to air the game in prime time, or as it did earlier when there were conflicts with golf, declining to show the game.

The irony is NBC could have stayed with the game and missed a small portion of the prerace nattering because the winning goal was scored at 5:14, nearly an hour before Curlin ran down Street Sense at the wire. The NHL goes out of its way to please its so-called "partner" in an attempt to sell the game in the U.S., but surely, Saturday's fiasco didn't win the league any fans.


Anaheim Ducks advance to Stanley Cup Finals with 4-3 win at home over Detroit

The Anaheim Ducks continued their "Mighty" playoff run with a 4-3 win over the Red Wings on Tuesday to advance to their second franchise Stanley Cup Final. The Ducks jumped out to a 3-0 lead with goals by Rob Niedermayer (SH), Corey Perry, and Ryan Getzlaf (PP), and Detroit spent the final 20 minutes trying to claw their way back into the game.

Mikael Samuelsson fired a shot wide early in the third period, but Chris Chelios picked the puck off the boards and found Henrik Zetterberg at the side of the net for his 6th goal of the playoffs. On an ensuing 3-on-2 rush, Detroit defenseman Andreas Lilja failed to check either Travis Moen or Rob Niedermayer, and Sammy Pahlsson backhanded a shot past Dominik Hasek to make the score 4-1. The Red Wings did not let up, and captain Pavel Datsyuk scored two power play goals in the final 10 minutes to bring them within one. Datsyuk's second power play goal came 8 seconds into a penalty on Ryan Getzlaf, and the Ducks followed that up with a hooking penalty on Moen 12 seconds later. Anaheim killed off the penalty, and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Ottawa Senators.

Video highlights are available via youtube, or versus.com. The NHL Network's 60 minute On The Fly highlight show video recap is available here. Interesting stat from OTF: Detroit has not won an elimination game since 2002. NHL.com has an ice level team photograph from Jeff Gross as its frozen moment from Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.

Coaching movable chairs: The Anaheim Ducks reached the WCSF once under current San Jose head coach Ron Wilson in 1996-97, the WCQF once under Craig Hartsburg in 1998-99, the Stanley Cup Finals once under current Detroit head coach Mike Babcock in 2002-03, and the WCF last year under current head coach Randy Carlyle. The Ducks opponent in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Ottawa Senators, are lead by head coach Bryan Murray. Murray registered a 29-45-8 record at the helm for Anaheim in 2001-02.

The Ducks are the best in the West - OC Register.

After two power-play goals by Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk less than seven minutes apart shaved their seemingly comfortable 4-1 lead to the barest of margins, the Ducks had to withstand another Detroit man-advantage opportunity in the final three minutes.

Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere came through with three of his 26 saves during the final Red Wings power play, and the Ducks managed a key clear of their defensive zone in the waning seconds to secure their second conference championship in four seasons.

The OC Register also has post-game audio from players and coaches here, and a photo slideshow here. Eric Stephens notes in the Los Angeles Times that the Ducks are not satisfied with a Stanley Cup appearance, they want to bring home the title. Also in the Times, Helene Elliott reports on Teemu Selanne's long 15 year wait for a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. A photo gallery from the LAT is available here.

A complete media roundup is available from the Playoff Central section on Anaheimducks.com, in addition to audio from J.S. Giguere, Teemu Selanne, and video of head coach Randy Carlyle's press conference here.

Last Night's Action: Lord Stanley Moving to Cali? - LAist.

Everybody thought hockey in Orange County was like a snowball in hell: Funny to say, totally unrealistic, and full of cliche (remember those "Mighty" days?). Well, it's starting to get a little chilly down south. The Ducks knocked of the "Mighty" Red Wings in six games, surviving a three goal scoring barrage by Detroit in the third period. Anaheim will host the Ottawa Senators in game one of the NHL Finals on Monday.

Best sports franchise in SoCal? - LA Observed.

[Update] Stanley Cup final schedule - James Mirtle.

The National Hockey League today released the schedule of dates for the 2007 Stanley Cup Final, which will begin Monday, May 28 in Anaheim or Detroit.

The start time for all Stanley Cup Final games will be 8 p.m., ET.

VERSUS will telecast Games 1 and 2 in the U.S., while NBC will broadcast Games 3 through 7. In Canada, CBC and RDS will provide coverage for the entire series. All games will be broadcast on NHL Radio.

(all start times 8 p.m., ET)

Game 1 Monday, May 28
Game 2 Wednesday, May 30
Game 3 Saturday, June 2
Game 4 Monday, June 4
Game 5 * Wednesday, June 6
Game 6 * Saturday, June 9
Game 7 * Monday, June 11

* if necessary


2007 Bay to Breakers

2007 Bay to Breakers

Toga! San Franciscans dressed as characters from the 1978 hit film "National Lampoon's Animal House" party their way through Golden Gate Park during the 96th running of the Bay to Breakers footrace through San Francisco, Sunday, May 20, 2007. (D. Ross Cameron/The Oakland Tribune)

Kenyan Edna Kiplagat became the first woman to win the 7.46 mile Bay to Breakers quarter marathon in San Francisco, finishing in 38 minutes and 55 seconds. A small group of elite female runners started nearly 5 minutes before the men, and for the first time in the race's 96 year history they could not catch up.

The race featured the usual throngs of costume clad runners (galleries here, here and here), local bands about every 10 blocks, and an open air concert in Golden Gate Park after the finish line.


Ducks at Anaheim tonight in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals

Anaheim Ducks Detroit Red Wings

The Anaheim Ducks travel to Detroit for the pivotal fifth game of the Western Conference Finals at 12 noon today on NBC. The "Countdown to Faceoff" pre-game show will be streamed online at 11:30AM. The Ducks avenged a 5-0 blowout loss in Game 3 with goals by Corey Perry, Ric Jackman, Teemu Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf, and Rob Niedermayer in a 5-3 win on Thursday.

Anaheim overcame the 1 game suspension of Chris Pronger for his hit on Tomas Holmstrom to tie the WCF at 2-2, but undisciplined play in the last 2 games could be a troublesome forecast of things to come. After giving up 11 minor penalties in Game 3, where J.S. Giguere was pulled after allowing 3 goals on 13 shots, a disjointed and mistake-prone Ducks lineup gave up a 3-1 lead in the second period of Game 4. Scott Niedermayer, Todd Marchant, and Corey Perry took a series of bad penalties to let the Red Wings back into the game. This is a Detroit team that was tight defensively against the Sharks, and patient enough to capitalize on San Jose's mistakes to advance.

Without Pronger, defenseman Ric Jackman saw his first game action in more than a month, and he scored the Ducks first power play goal of the series as a result. Anaheim was able to put bodies in front of Hasek, who will stop anything he can see, and kill off a 5-on-3 at the start of the third period to gather momentum in the game. The Ducks need to pressure the defense more in game 5, stay out of the penalty box, and get the puck deep in order to force Detroit's offense to skate 200 feet.

[Update] It's a defining moment for the Ducks; Anaheim will need to avoid careless penalties and count on its mental toughness against a Detroit team that seems to be getting better each game - Los Angeles Times.

Today's game at Joe Louis Arena will define the Ducks as a team not only this spring but for years to come.

The fifth game of the Western Conference finals will be the one in which they stop taking the careless penalties that have sapped their energy and fueled the Red Wings' offense, or it will be another showcase for their lack of discipline.

It will be the day they realize that mental toughness is more important than sheer brawn, or another occasion on which they let their emotions overrule their heads. It's their choice.

[Update2] Pronger is eager to return, and Detroit is ready - Los Angeles Times.

[Update3] Key 'piece to the puzzle; Whether at wing or center, Ducks are glad to have Marchant playing. - Orange County Register.

(Scott) Niedermayer declined comment on speculation by Canadian television and Internet outlet TSN that he is nursing a significant injury.

"What can I say?" Niedermayer asked. "I go out and I do my best when I'm on the ice. Sometimes, maybe I wish it could be better, but sometimes it doesn't go that way."

The smooth-skating Niedermayer, whose mobility has appeared to be compromised of late, withdrew from the NHL All-Star Game in January and missed the three ensuing regular-season games because of a stress fracture in his right foot.

Chris Pronger also made headlines while sitting out, calling a string of penalties called against Anaheim in the second period "an absolute joke". Anaheim Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle downplayed the comments, saying that players needed more respect of the people in charge of the game.

More from Pronger on 570AM Friday from TSN:

"The league should make its own calls, not be pressured into anything by the media, and more to the point, the Canadian media," he told the station.

"I think inconsistency in the refereeing has been there all season, let alone in the playoffs. All you've got to do is look at our games against Detroit. You could bring in other series. The referees have been very inconsistent from series to series, from game to game and from team to team. As you witnessed, (Thursday) night was an absolute joke. But that's neither here nor there. It's over with. I just hope going forward we're going to be on a level playing field."


San Jose Sharks vs Golden State Warriors vs Barry Bonds

Bary Area Sports Pulse

This graph by blogpulse.com measures the blog coverage of the San Jose Sharks and Golden State Warriors playoff runs against the always popular sport of Barry Bonds criticism.

The leadup to Game 1 of the Sharks-Wings WCSF series on April 26th drew a number of posts from blogs, and residual media attention after sustaining several questionable hits in the Nashville series. The Warriors improbable upset of top ranked Dallas on May 3rd drew wall-to-wall coverage from the MSM and blogs alike. Barry Bonds hit home run number 745 off Tom Glavine in a 4-1 loss to the Mets on May 8th, and should consume the bulk of the local blogosphere's attention span until fall.

A sign of the Bay Area media's coverage of the NHL was evident Friday on KNBR 680AM. San Francisco Chronicle opinion columnist Ray Ratto described himself as the paper's "hockey boy", and he was asked on the air to offer his insight on the Sharks playoff exit. For 2 years Ratto served as a punchline on many blogs for his spectacularly horrible columns on the Sharks, and now he is the go-to analyst for the Bay Area's largest newspaper.

On the other side of the Bay, Morning Buzz (aka John Ryan), took time off from his thorough documentation of Versus television ratings to point out every negative hockey story of the day. The news varied from the Sharks lack of a Chris Drury "we could fight like dogs" leader, to Ottawa fans assaulting a Buffalo Sabres jersey clad women, to Chris Pronger's suspension for violently elbowing Tomas Holmstrom (instead of Milan Michalek). Buzz is the best thing to happen to the Mercury News in the last few years, but someone on ice skates must have taken out one of his former pets given the non-stop negative tone of his hockey coverage.

[Update] Purdy: Sharks' prolonged silence getting louder by the day - SJ Mercury News.

In the 11 days since the team's ceremonial losing handshake with Detroit, the Sharks front-office types have created a ceremonial cocoon for themselves. General Manager Doug Wilson has not yet spoken to the media about the bitter Red Wings meltdown, aside from a statement immediately after the final game that he would need two weeks to decompress and assess.

Ottawa Senators advance to Stanley Cup Finals with 3-2 OT win over Buffalo

An AFP report on the Eastern Conference Finals, syndicated by thenewsroom.com (with their advertising):

In addition to news reports, thenewsroom.com offers weekly NHL "best of" highlights, blooper reels, individual game highlights, and coverage of MLB/NFL/NBA. The video quality is an improvement over Youtube clips, and it offers the NHL the ability to drop in advertising.

A hockey video feed is available here.

[Update] Sens and Sabres: At Least it Was a Good Death - Sabre Rattling.

In the end, this team will be remembered for saying all the right things but not actually doing them. Beyond the top players like Miller, Drury, Briere and Lydman, there was precious little in the way of consistency or urgency in the lineup. The lack of committment by players such as Jaro Spacek, Ales Kotalik, Dmitri Kalinin,Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Jason Pominville and Max Afinogenov eventually took its toll on the rest of the roster and the coaching staff. This was a team with too many followers and not enough leaders. And that, in the end, was the difference in this series.

[Update2] Video, Video, Everywhere; The NHL has announced more video partners in Voxant/TheNewsRoom and Joost - The Ice Block.

The National Hockey League (NHL) announced today that it has teamed with Voxant, the Viral Syndication Network (VSN), to distribute video clips of game highlights, bloopers, noteworthy moments and other news to thousands of websites and blogs through TheNewsRoom. The clips, available beginning today, may be obtained for free and are accompanied by advertising, which provides revenue to content owners and sites where content is published.

[Update3] Joost Signs Deal With CNN, Sony, NHL; Prepares To Launch - Tech Crunch.

Joost, which was founded by Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, has benefited from massive hype and the fact that only a very few people have so far been let into the beta. They've also benefitted greatly from the Google/YouTube-Viacom dispute - Viacom signed a deal to include their content on the Joost platform earlier this year. Joost has also previously announced deals with Warner Music Group and CBS. The deals announced today include content arrangements with CNN, Sony, Sports Illustrated, the National Hockey League and Hasbro.


The Stanley Cup goes Hollywood

Stanley Cup
Stanley Cup
Stanley Cup
Stanley Cup

Earlier this week Lord Stanley's Cup made a guest appearance on Boston Legal with William Shatner. Shatner's character tried to carve his name into the Stanley Cup because Bobby Orr allegedly borrowed his lucky jockstrap prior to his game winning goal for the Boston Bruins. The show aired during the later stages of the Western Conference Finals Game 3 between Detroit and Anaheim, but Versus showed a highlight clip at intermission.

The Stanley Cup made the rounds of Hollywood this season appearing on set of the Guiding Light, CSI Miami, General Hospital, the aforementioned Boston Legal, with Heroes star Hayden Panettiere and Tony Shalhoub on the set of Monk, and with actress Lindsay Lohan and singer Snoop Dog to name a few. A gallery of Stanley Cup Hollywood sightings is available here.

These photos from Getty Images are available for editorial use by the media on image.net, along with videos and images from the Texas Motor Speedway, International Fight League, and the Harlem Globetrotters.

New blog Texas-hockey.com

Stephanie and Lee Hastings have launched a new hockey blog this week at texas-hockey.com. Stephanie was a former radio show personality and regular caller on the Tony Bruno show, Lee was the voice of the Wichita Thunder. The website already includes a blog, fan photos, team photos, a Texas hockey player of the month, interviews and tips with Texas hockey coaches, a podcast and more.

The roster of hockey teams in Texas includes:

The NHL Dallas Stars, the AHL Houston Aeros and San Antonio Rampage, the ECHL Texas Wildcatters, the Central Hockey League Amarillo Gorillas, Austin Ice Bats, Corpus Christi Rayz, Laredo Bucks, Lubbock Cotton Kings, Odessa Jackalopes, Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, and Texas Brahmas, ACHA D2 teams from Texas, Texas A&M, North Texas, and Texas Tech, and the NAHL Texas Tornado and Wichita Falls Wildcats.

It is hard to wrap your head around that number of hockey teams and leagues (6 leagues, 18 teams) in the Lone Star state. An interview with Stephanie, aka Zany Sports Lady, can be found previously on this blog here.


Anaheim General Manager Brian Burke interviewed on Rome is Burning

On Monday, Anaheim Ducks Executive VP and General Manager Brian Burke was interviewed by Jim Rome on the ESPN program Rome is Burning.

Rome discussed a number of topics with Burke ranging from Anaheim's pair of Norris trophy winning defenseman (Niedermayer and Pronger), goaltender J.S. Giguere, not re-signing former Ducks and current Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock, Anaheim's propensity for physical play, his former Harvard coach Lou Lamoriello and co-captain Ron Wilson, and Orange County as compared to the city of Vancouver as hockey markets.

A few select questions from the interview:

[JR] I still have a hard time believing you have both (Scott Niedermayer) and Chris Pronger back on the blue line. Talk about the challenges other teams are in having to go up against those guys, because one of them is always there.

[BB] Well personnel matchups in our league, generally if you are a star player you are going to see a top defenseman. If you can get away from that guy, you are going to have a better chance for success. If one of those two guys is out there all the time, which is kind of how we play, every time a star player is on the ice he is going to see one of those two guys, and that is not good news.

[JR] You led the league this year in penalty minutes, and fighting majors, and I am guessing that does not bother you too much.

[BB] No. Our team plays a very distinctive style. I don't like watching hockey that is not physical. I don't want our young players to develop in an atmosphere that is not fear free. So we bang, we hit, and we fight when we should.

[JR] You are a no BS kind of guy. Did you have any concern about coming to a market that is not a traditional hockey market. Where maybe the fans were a little bit softer, maybe not as knowledgeable?

[BB] No. People said to me it is going to be a lot harder to rebuild the situation in Anaheim, than it was in Vancouver. At the end of my first year in Vancouver, we had 7600 season tickets. At the end of my first year in Anaheim, we had 13000. So this is a great hockey market, much better than people realize. Its not front and center like it is in Canada, but that doesn't mean out of 25 million people I can't find enough to watch on TV and fill the building. I believed in the market, I loved Orange County, and I jumped at it when I had the chance to come.

[JR] Its not the same because its not the same buzz, its not the same media coverage. You can't jump into a cab and be asked about your fourth line or your power play. Do you miss that type of coverage?

[BB] The intensity I miss, the lack of privacy I don't miss...

[JR] If you can go the distance and win, will it feel the same way as if you did it in a traditional market like Vancouver?

[BB] It is real arrogant, and real bad like to talk like that. That is a question that if we are lucky enough to talk about some day, have me back on and I will answer it.

JRIB airs every weekday on ESPN at 1:30PM. With Brian Burke, Doug Wilson, and Dean Lombardi as the three general managers for NHL teams in California, the trio should have a much higher footprint in the media.

[Update] Ducks blanked by Detroit, 5-0; Anaheim stumbles in Game 3 shutout - Orange Country Register.

[Update2] Ducks' Pronger suspended one game - TSN.

The Warriors playoff run ends with 100-87 loss to Utah in Game 5

Golden State Warriors Baron Davis

The Warriors odyssey from playoff berth to an overwhelming sea of Bay Area faithful ended Tuesday night with a 100-87 loss to the Utah Jazz. Baron Davis led Golden State with 21 points and 8 assists, but the Jazz capitalized on mistakes and missed shots to pull away late in the fourth quarter. Don Nelson's emotional lineup ran into the much larger Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur, and the Warriors could not make the adjustments they needed to keep the offense rolling.

The Merced Sun-Star's Steve Cameron quoted Charles Barkley after game 4 on how the series would turn on Utah's dominant play inside the paint:

"And the further it goes, the more the Warriors are getting beat up inside by Utah's big guys," Barkley said. "And the games are starting to come every other night now. Fatigue sets in. Those 3-pointers will just get tougher and tougher to make. Utah will just keep on pounding the ball inside, getting all the rebounds and doing what they do. Me, I'll always take guys shooting layups against guys shooting long jumpers."

Nelson said after the game that they made it this far based on impassioned team play, and he was not going to take that away from them. That passion captivated fans, the mainstream media, and Hollywood celebs alike. A non-plussed Charles Barkley took the opening round series against Dallas to rail against Alcatraz, Sausalito, and the "city" of Golden State, and he let up only slightly during the series with Utah.

Golden State of Mind recapped the Game 5 loss, and thanked the team for its first playoff run in 13 years. True Hoop noted the Warriors short bench, fatigue, and the lack of breaks between games as a few of the factors working against the Warriors after game 4. Five Tool Tool posted a Warrior Eulogy. Thanks to Deadspin for the link. Golden State fans are sent into the offseason thinking of what might have been, which is something that has not happened in a very long time, to go along with the annual question about the lack of a true big man.

Davis loves it with Warriors, wants 4-year contract extension - Oakland Tribune.

[Update] Hard to believe the dream is over; Fatigued Warriors finally run out of magic as the season fizzles out in the final 3 minutes of Game 5 against the relentless Utah Jazz - SF Chronicle.


Darryl Hunt: AHL Worcester Sharks team highlights and season in review

Worcester Sharks Thomas Greiss
Worcester Sharks Dan Spang

Max Giese interviewed new Sharkspage contributor Darryl Hunt about the Sharks AHL affiliate in Worcester, individual player contributions, and the Worcester Sharks season in review.

[Q] Who was the MVP for the Worcester Sharks this season?

[DH] Left Wing Mathieu Darche. He lead the team in goals, assists, points, and power play goals. It seemed that no matter who he was teamed with, he was a threat to score on any shift. He is an unrestricted free agent, and I think it is very important the WSharks look to resign him.

[Q] Who was the rookie of the year for Worcester?

[DH] Goaltender Thomas Greiss. He did not have the best of starts, but after Nolan Schaeffer was loaned to Hershey, he really came into his own.

[Q] Who was the unsung hero?

[DH] Center Craig Valette. Despite two long stints on the injured list, Valette set career highs in goals, assists, points, and plus/minus. He was one of the team's top penalty killers and anchored the third line, especially in the defensive zone. One thing the two injuries did for him was keep him under the AHL's veteran limit of 261 games played, Valette is at 259, so he should not have any problems fitting on the AHL roster next season.

[Q] Who was the best NHL prospect in Worcester?

[DH] Thomas Greiss. Guys like Torrey Mitchell, Derek Joslin, and Jamie McGinn did not have long enough stints in Worcester to really make a good evaluation, so the nod here has to go to Greiss. I will say that from what I saw of Mitchell, that kid is going to be a very good hockey player.

[Q] Who was the most underrated player?

[DH] Defenseman Tom Walsh. He started the season in Fresno of the ECHL, and had two short stints in Worcester before being recalled in late February and solidifying himself as one of the teams better all-around defensemen. Walsh is very solid on both ends of the ice. He is not a flashy player, and as such he often gets overlooked. Had Walsh been given a chance out of camp, Worcester probably would not have signed Justin Kurtz. The less said about Kurtz’s play, the better.

[Q] Who was the most overrated?

[DH] Defenseman Dan Spang. But with a caveat. Spang was injured for large parts of the season, and when he did play Spang did not come anywhere near close to the hype. So unfortunately he gets tagged with "overrated" for now, but should he heal up over the summer, he could shed that tag very quickly.

[Q] Who was the break out player for Worcester?

[DH] Right Wing Riley Armstrong. He set career highs in goals, assists, and points. He is a "pest" type player that really stepped it up this season. Toward the end of the season many of his penalties were "reputation" type calls, and that is a sign he getting some notice in the league. He had three GWG this season, as opposed to none in 05-06.

[Q] How has left wing Lukas Kaspar developed this season and what is his upside as a possible NHL player?

[DH] I can see him becoming an NHL 3rd liner, but he does not have the scoring touch to be a top six forward. He also has a problem with being very inconsistent. He will put together a bunch of great shifts, and then suddenly have a shift or two where he looks like he has never played organized hockey before. Is he close to NHL ready? Until he gets that scoring touch and can conquer his consistency problems, I think he is only ready for very brief NHL duty, and even then there may be a few players that would be recalled in front of him.

[Q] Goaltender Thomas Greiss (26-15-2, .912SV%) had impressive numbers, and seemed to win the starting job midway through the season. What was most impressive about Greiss, and was he as good as his numbers suggest?

[DH] I was impressed with how quickly he picked up the North American game. Of the three goaltenders that started the season in Worcester, Greiss was hurt the most by not really seeing the puck in game conditions often enough. After Schaefer was removed from the picture you see his confidence build game after game. I am looking forward to seeing him as the #1 goalie in Worcester next season.

[Q] Do you view him as one of the top goaltending prospects in the AHL?

[DH] Based on the ones I have seen, absolutely. He raised his stock a lot this season, and I can easily see it going higher next season.

[Q] Briefly give us your thoughts on left wing Jamie McGinn, defenseman Derek Joslin, and center Torrey Mitchell all guys that joined the Sharks late in the season.

[DH] McGinn has another year of juniors to go, and that is probably a good thing. He is about a half second too slow for the AHL right now. We did see some flashes of what he can do, but if players like Valette, Plihal, or Macho were not hurt we probably would not have seen as much of him as we did. Joslin, who is penciled in the Worcester line-up for next season, was another guy that was just a little slower than the play around him. Like McGinn, we saw some flashes of brilliance, but on the whole he was in over his head. On the other hand, Torrey Mitchell stepped into the line-up like he belonged there. Almost from game 1 he was one of the team's top four penalty killers, and played on both the first and second lines at even strength, and on the power play. There was hardly a night where there was not a buzz about something Mitchell did on the ice at some point in the game. He is one of the players I am really looking forward to seeing in 2007-08.

[Q] What is the local buzz around the Worcester Sharks like?

[DH] The local buzz is really positive for the team. What has helped the WSharks is that in just their first season they have already been a more positive force in the community than the Worcester IceCats/St Louis Blues were.

[Q] Good atmosphere and attendance at the games?

[DH] The WSharks put on a real good show, both on and off the ice. And as the year went on, attendance got better and better as IceCats fans, many who were still stinging at the loss of the IceCats they had cheered for after 11 years, came back to the games. They were slowly sold on this team. The vast majority of the WSharks season ticket base were not IceCat season ticket holders. If that market can be tapped, and I think it can be, the numbers will be even better.

[Q] How where the playoffs?

[DH] The playoff numbers were not very strong, and a lot of that has to do with Worcester fans seeing 1st round loss after 1st round loss for the IceCats. The WSharks will need to make a strong playoff run to break the perception that this is a "regular season" team only.

[Q] What was the local coverage of the team like?

[DH] We have one of the best beat reporters in the AHL in Bill Ballou. More than a quarter of home games were on local TV. Every game is on the radio and available on the internet, and every Sunday during the season there is a half hour show dedicated to the team. As far as minor league hockey goes, I would say ur media coverage is pretty good.

[Q] Dan Spang seems to have a productive year offensively with 4 goals and 21 assists, and he was named one of the alternate captains as a rookie. Is he the next in line of San Jose's smaller but skilled puck moving two-way defenseman?

[DH] Maybe. His problem this season was a series of injuries and that hampered his play a lot, limiting him to just 48 games. Next season will see him at a crossroads for his career. Will he be that "injury prone" guy that never reaches his full potential? Or will he be the guy that puts a forgettable season behind him and lives up to expectations? He is the one that gets to decide.

[Q] Defenseman Tom Walsh flew under the radar this year but had a strong play off stretch run it seems. What can you tell us about his game?

[DH] He is the player Dan Spang is supposed to be. He does not have the same potential that Spang has, but what they do for your team is almost identical. He is a guy that if given the opportunity could become one of the leaders on the WSharks in the future.

[Q] Goaltender Dimitri Patzold came back to life in the playoffs. How would you sum up his season and his performance in the playoffs?

[DH] Despite a few great individual games and some solid play in the playoffs, Patzold has probably played himself out of the Sharks organization. It is going to be a numbers game again in Worcester to start the season with the addition of goaltender Taylor Dakers, and I think the Sharks have learned that having three goalies is an issue when trying to develop NHL talent. It is possible the Sharks resign him if they are planning on trading Nabokov or Toskala, but even then there will probably be better value than Patzold on the free agent market.

[Q] The San Jose Sharks use size and speed to be difficult to contain offensively. What style of play do the Worcester Sharks play?

[DH] The San Jose Sharks and Worcester Sharks play nearly identical systems by design, so that if a player needs to be recalled the learning curve is very small. That has been the way of thinking in the organization for several years, and it has shown some great results at the NHL level. Now that the Sharks have decided on adding veteran "hired guns" for their AHL team, they will help prospects reach their full NHL potential. I think it will begin to show some positive results at the AHL level too.

Thanks very much to Max Giese, and Darryl Hunt for recapping the 2006-07 Worcester Sharks season. Max also has a large 2007 NHL Entry Draft preview in the works and possibly a mock draft.

Up next for the blog is a media roundup after the San Jose Sharks playoff exit, another interview, and a few photos from the San Francisco Bay to Breakers quarter marathon on Sunday.

[Update] New team, same story; Postseason wins difficult to find - Worcester Telegram and Gazette.

Hockey has things backward, it seems, in that the last impression is the most important one. Which is why teams and players are judged by what they do in the short season of the playoffs as opposed to what they do in the endless six-month struggle of the regular season.

To judge the Worcester Sharks by what they did in the regular season, their first in town, is to congratulate them on an excellent debut. To judge them by what they did in the postseason is to first ponder what happened, and why, in regards to their first-round elimination by the Manchester Monarchs.

And finding out the hows and whys of that playoff disappointment is important to the long-range health of the franchise, for that was precisely the recipe — promising regular season, high hopes for the postseason, early playoff elimination — that eventually caused the area's hockey fans to lose interest in the IceCats.

[Update2] They hope home ice is lucky again; Backs to the wall, Moose in MTS Centre for another playoff showdown - Winnipeg Free Press.


Santa Clara University ice hockey to compete next season

Santa Clara University Ice Hockey

On Saturday afternoon, Santa Clara University scrimmaged against San Jose State at the Logitech Ice Center. Santa Clara's ice hockey team will compete for the first time this fall in the ACHA second division.


Interview with Sharks radio color analyst Jamie Baker

Prior to Game 6, I asked San Jose Sharks radio color analyst Jamie Baker if he could answer a few questions about the Detroit vs San Jose series.

A 10-year veteran of the NHL, Jamie Baker finished his second year calling the Sharks games on KFOX 98.5FM with fellow St. Lawrence alumni and play-by-play host Dan Rusanowsky.

[Q] A lot of people are going to look at Nabokov's misplay at the end of the second period in the Sharks 4-1 loss in game 5, but do you think the way the defense played the puck on that play, the Sharks failure to check Tomas Holmstrom in front of the crease, or the inability to get shots on net 5-on-5 and the PP are equal factors in the loss?

[JB] You can never blame one mistake for a loss, not to mention there is the mental side of sports that creates momentum. All are factors in losses so I agree with you that the factors you mentioned have an equal cause to the loss.

[Q] All year long the Sharks have been either getting the puck in deep and using their size and speed to wear down opponents, outpositioning them in front of the crease, or they have been scoring on the rush. How have the Detroit Red Wings been able to throw them off their game?

[JB] Team speed and attention to details, especially playing defense. Quick teams like Detroit can pressure the puck carrier, eliminating time to make plays, and also have the speed to get back into strong defensive position Detroit did a tremendous job of taking away the lanes of the Sharks players.

[Q] The puck seemed glued to the stick of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, how should the Sharks have tried to shut them down?

[JB] The best way to slow guys like Datsyuk and Zetterberg is to force them to play defensive hockey in their own zone, which also tires them out. Once they get the puck, they are dangerous, that's what makes them world class players.

[Q] A 12u youth girls hockey team that you coach competed in the USA Hockey Girls Championships at Logitech Ice in San Jose last month. How well did your team perform, and what will you work on to improve next season? Have you coached any other hockey teams in the past?

[JB] Our girls lost all 3 games by the score of 4-0. We need to work on skill development but our season was a tremendous success because the girls became a team, played for each other and showed the commitment to what it takes to be a AAA travel player. I have helped with teams the past 3 years.

[Q] You also interviewed a NCAA coach for the Sharks broadcast, and did radio for for USAhockey.com. What did this event mean for Womens and Girls hockey. Who did you run into while at the event?

[JB] Tough question - The event, I hope, helped grow the awareness and hopefully number of participants for girls hockey. I met other coaches from programs around the country.

[Q] What do you think needs to happen locally to get more young kids playing the game? Is the cost of equipment and ice time too prohibitive, and could roller or street hockey be used to give people an introduction as well?

[JB] Yes, the cost is a factor, as is the lack of rinks. Yes, roller and street hockey can and should be used to introduce people to hockey. The Sharks have some very good programs in place right now, particularly the street hockey.

[Q] A lot of people are talking about Drew Remenda's return to the broadcast booth, but I have continued to be impressed with your analysis on the radio broadcast. How much of a balance do you try to strike between breaking down the play on the ice, and educating fans about the game? And how hard is it to break down X's and O's on the radio?

[JB] Drew was/is the most recognized face of the Sharks organization and if he returns it will be good for everyone. When I analyze a play I try to put things in laymans terms as best as I can to educate fans. Not easy to do at times on the radio because you have to paint the picture, but I also have more time to explain things than TV analysts. There are some things I stay away from because people would need a visual to understand what I am saying.

Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions, and good luck calling the games next season.

More information about the Sharks and Parks street hockey program, NHL Street, and the mobile Shark Tank can be found here, here, and here.

Detroit and San Jose ratings for Monday's series clinching game 6

The ratings for Detroit's series clinching 2-0 win over the San Jose Sharks on Monday Night were higher than expected in both markets. In the Bay Area, Fox Sports Net drew a 3.0 for SJ-DET game 6 according to John Ryan of the Morning Buzz. The first game of the Golden State Warriors vs Utah Jazz series drew an 11.2 on the same night. What should be noted was the staggered starting times, with the Sharks dropping the puck at 6PM pacific and the Warriors tipping off at 7:30.

In Detroit, the Pistons-Bulls NBA game on TNT drew a 13.6 to the Red Wings 10.1 share on FSN Detroit, according to Chris McCosky of The Detroit News. Christy Hammond from the Behind the Jersey blog reports that the Red Wings have to compete harder for television ratings, merchandise sales, and attendance with the success of the Detroit Pistons and Detroit Tigers, and the existence of the Detroit Lions.

The ratings for the national broadcast of Game 6 on Versus are a little more difficult to find. They will be posted here if they come in via email.

The media's sole fixation on television ratings, to an exclusion of other issues (attendance, the product on the ice, production values, fan experience, etc) brings far more criticism down on the NHL than it deserves. This thought came to mind after reading a recent Washington Post article, Pearls Before Breakfast. Preeminent American violinist Joshua Bell was asked by the Post to play his $3.5 million 1713 Stradivari violin at a Washington D.C. subway stop during rush hour. Out of 1,097 people that passed by possibly the nation's best classical musician, only 6 stopped to listen briefly.

"It was the most astonishing thing I've ever seen in Washington," Furukawa says. "Joshua Bell was standing there playing at rush hour, and people were not stopping, and not even looking, and some were flipping quarters at him! Quarters! I wouldn't do that to anybody. I was thinking, Omigosh, what kind of a city do I live in that this could happen?"

Some of the pieces played by Bell were technically overpowering, but does the fact that no one stopped and listened discredit Bell or classical music as a whole? Of course not. Fill the subway stop with those who have played an instrument or attended a symphony, and you would have trouble getting through to a subway car. Thanks to David Krane for the WP link.

In a sense, the NHL has a similar problem. Fans who have no experience with the X's and O's of an NHL game, who have never laced up a skate, or who have never wristed the puck at a goaltender are much less likely to leave the remote alone long enough to watch Kyle McLaren destroy someone along the boards with a hip check. They will be much less likely to find out where Versus is on digital cable, or to figure out indecipherable and often inaccurate HD schedules.

Improving the broadcast is great, the new NHL rules are having a postitive impact, more accessible stars are a plus, sticking Pierre McGuire at center ice is mildly amusing, but the biggest thing the NHL can do to improve ratings is to educate more fans about the game, and work harder to improve youth and adult participation (especially in the West and in the South).

Data Says 2.5 Million Less Watching TV - Breitbart.

In TV's worst spring in recent memory, a startling number of Americans drifted away from television the past two months: More than 2.5 million fewer people were watching ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox than at the same time last year, statistics show. Everyone has a theory to explain the plummeting ratings: early Daylight Savings Time, more reruns, bad shows, more shows being recorded or downloaded or streamed.

Scariest of all for the networks, however, is the idea that many people are now making their own television schedules. The industry isn't fully equipped to keep track of them, and as a result the networks are scrambling to hold on to the nearly $8.8 billion they collected during last spring's ad-buying season.

This is something I predicted at the start of the season here. If viewing habits are moving more to online and HD broadcasts, the NHL has positioned itself well for the future adopting almost too many innovations to keep track of on a monthly basis.

[Update] A look at TV ratings - Behind the Jersey.

[Update2] MOJO 'Dekes' DIRECTV HD Hockey Fans, Last night's high-def broadcast of a NHL playoff game is moved from Versus to MOJO, knocking it off DIRECTV - TVpredictions.com.

[Update3] Sharks-Wings big in Newfoundland - Oakland Tribune.

Finland ousts Team USA from IIHF World Championships in Russia with 5-4 shootout win

In one of the best hockey games that virtually no one in the USA was able to watch, Finland ousted Team USA with a 5-4 shootout win in the IIHF World Championship Quarterfinals on Thursday. The Americans rallied from behind four times before Finland's Jere Lehtinen scored the only goal in an overtime shootout to advance. Team USA goaltender John Grahame made 29 saves on 34 shots in a losing effort.

On Saturday Russia will face Finland in the first semifinal game, followed by Canada vs Sweden. If you live in Canada, the games will be streamed online for free via TSN broadband. In the U.S. the games are available on wcsn.com for a $4.95 monthly fee. The official IIHF World Championship Moscow site is available here.

The Washginton Capitals have flown several bloggers to report live from Moscow, and they have been filing daily video podcasts, notes, and photos on washingtoncaps.com/worlds/. Details of the preperations for the trip are here, and notes from the USA-FIN quarterfinal game are here. There is also much more available from Moscow at OnFrozenBlog.com.

A press release on USA-FIN from USAhockey.com:

U.S. Men's National Team Falls to Finland, 5-4, in a Shootout at IIHF World Championship, Team USA Finishes Fifth at Tournament

MOSCOW, Russia - The U.S. Men's National Team dropped a 5-4 decision to Finland in a shootout tonight in the quarterfinal round of the 2007 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship. The United States rallied from a one-goal deficit four different times in regulation, but was held scoreless in overtime and on five attempts during the shootout. The fifth-place finish was Team USA's best at the World Championship since winning the bronze medal in 2004.

"I felt tonight was the best game our team has played in the tournament," said Mike Sullivan, head coach of Team USA. "We played with a lot of heart, but losing in a shootout is a tough way to end a game. I'm proud of our effort throughout the tournament and thought we represented our country extremely well."

Tuomo Ruutu put Finland up 1-0 with the lone goal of the first period on a wrist shot from the right faceoff dot that beat U.S. netminder John Grahame (Denver, Colo./Carolina Hurricanes/Lake Superior State University) to the far side at 17:03.

A total of six goals were scored during the second period, with each team accounting for three tallies. Toby Petersen (Minneapolis, Minn./Edmonton Oilers/Colorado College) evened the game on a shorthanded tally off a feed from Chad LaRose (Fraser, Mich./Carolina Hurricanes) just 48 seconds into the frame, followed by a Pekka Saravo 2-on-1 goal for Finland at 4:33.

Tyler Arnason (Oklahoma City, Okla./Colorado Avalanche/St. Cloud State University) made it a 2-2 contest at 7:05, while Finland's Jari Viuhkola beat Grahame on a rebound goal at 10:27. Team USA again tied the game on Lee Stempniak's (West Seneca, N.Y./St. Louis Blues/Dartmouth College) team-leading sixth goal of the tournament at 14:08 off a feed from David Backes (Minneapolis, Minn./St. Louis Blues/Minnesota State University Mankato). Finland's Tomi Kallio rounded out the second-period scoring with a power-play goal at 15:32 to give his team a 4-3 lead.

Andrew Hutchinson (Evanston, Ill./Carolina Hurricanes/Michigan State University) notched the only goal of the third period at the 14:20 mark when he one-timed a cross-ice feed from Arnason over Finnish netminder Kari Lehtonen's right shoulder with Team USA on the power play to send the game to overtime.

Both Grahame and Lehtonen kept the opposition off the scoreboard during the 10-minute overtime session and the first two rounds of the shootout. The first round of the game-winning shots procedure featured three shooters from each team. From there, each round consisted of one shooter from each side. In the third round, Lehtonen made a pad save on Phil Kessel's (Madison, Wis./Boston Bruins/University of Minnesota) attempt, while Jere Lehtinen put a shot over Grahame's left shoulder to earn the victory for Finland.

NOTES: Toby Petersen was named Team USA's Best Player of the Game ... Team USA leads the tournament with three shorthanded tallies ... Lee Stempniak was the lone U.S. player to have at least one point in each of Team USA's seven games in the IIHF World Championship. With 6-4--10, he finished as Team USA's leading point-getter ... Grahame started each of Team USA's seven games and posted four victories with a .892 save percentage and a 2.79 goals-against average ... All 56 games of the 2007 IIHF World Championship are available live and on-demand at WCSN.com ... Barry Smith, head coach and director of hockey operations with SKA St. Petersburg of the Russian Elite League, served as associate head coach of Team USA, while David Quinn, associate head coach for the Boston University men's ice hockey team, was the assistant coach.


Scoring By Period
FIN 1-3-0-0-1 -- 5
USA 0-3-1-0-0 -- 4

First Period - Scoring: 1, FIN, Ruutu (Koivu, Kallio), 17:03. Penalties: USA, Alberts (tripping), 4:19; FIN, Berg (hooking), 11:30; USA, Hall (roughing), 19:18.

Second Period - Scoring: 2, USA, Petersen (LaRose, Greene), :48 (sh); 3, FIN, Saravo (Soderholm, Kapanen), 4:33; 4, USA, Arnason (Bochenski, Kessel), 7:05; 5, FIN, Viuhkola (Peltonen), 10:27; 6, USA, Stempniak (Backes, Ballard), 14:08; 7, FIN, Kallio (Ruutu, Nummelin), 15:32 (pp). Penalties: USA, Stastny (hooking), 1:50; FIN, Laamanen (tripping), 5:03; USA, Greene (roughing), 14:57; USA, Ballard (10-minute misconduct), 15:32; FIN, Berg (roughing), 15:47.

Third Period - Scoring: 8, USA, Hutchinson (Arnason, Kessel), 14:20 (pp). Penalties: USA, Backes (high-sticking), 9:45; FIN, Laamanen (hooking), 12:42.

Overtime - Scoring: No Scoring. Penalties: No Penalties.

GWS - Round 1: FIN, Peltonen (saved); USA, Kessel (saved); FIN, Nummelin (saved); USA, Stempniak (saved); FIN, Koivu (saved); USA, Parise (saved). Round 2: USA, Parise (saved); FIN, Ruutu (saved). Round 3: USA, Kessel (saved); FIN, Lehtinen (goal).

FIN - 34
USA - 32

Goaltending (SH-SV)
FIN, Lehtonen, 70:00, 32-28
USA, Grahame, 70:00, 34-29

Power Play: FIN 1-5, USA 1-4
Penalties: FIN 4-8, USA 6-20
Officials: Referee-Marcus Vinnerborg; Linesmen-Anders Karlberg, Milan Masik
Attendance: 6,500

Team USA 2007 IIHF World Championship Schedule Moscow, Russia * April 27-May 13

April 25, Sweden (exh.), Stockholm, W, 5-3
April 27, Austria, Arena Mytischi, W, 6-2
April 29, Belarus, Arena Mytischi, W, 5-1
May 1, Czech Republic, Arena Mytischi, L, 3-4
May 3, Slovakia, Arena Mytischi, W, 4-2
May 5, Germany, Arena Mytischi, W, 3-0
May 7, Canada, Arena Mytischi, L, 3-6
May 10, Finland (QF), Arena Khodynka, L, 4-5

[Update] Finland-USA 5-4 after penalties: Lions take the hard way into semi-finals, Lehtinen and Lehtonen the heroes of gripping encounter - Helsingin Sanomat.


Detroit shuts down the Sharks 2-0 in Game 6

Detroit Red Wings Dominik Hasek
NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals
San Jose Sharks Patrick Marleau Joe Thornton

The Detroit Red Wings ended the Sharks playoff run with a 2-0 win at HP Pavilion on Monday night. A photo gallery from Game 6 is available here.

Key Plays of the Game:

The Detroit Red Wings will be without 2 of their top 6 defenseman on Monday night. Mathieu Schneider is out with a broken wrist in Game 5, Niklas Kronwall is out with a back injury that occurred in the regular season. Defenseman Brett Lebda is scheduled to return from an ankle sprain, but Lidstrom and Chelios may both hit close to 30 minutes in ice time. Keys for the Red Wings as per the Detroit broadcast: Whether the initial storm, special teams, 3rd and 4th line contributions, big game from Hasek.

The Sharks are going to replace Joe Pavelski in the linep with left wing Mark Bell, who should skate on a line with centers Curtis Brown and Mark Smith. Bill Guerin, Douglas Murray, Rob Davison, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Traverse, and Graham Mink are scratches for San Jose. Prior to Game 6, San Jose head coach Ron Wilson is 41-41 alltime in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (4-7 with Anaheim, 15-17 with Washington, 22-17 with San Jose). Wilson has coached the 9th most games among active NHL head coaches. Columbus head coach Ken Hitchcock (66-51), Minnesota head coach Jacques Lemaire (58-48), and Ottawa head coach Bryan Murray (47-51) are the top three.



Sharks open the first period with several big checks. Ryane Clowe had two hits on Nicklas Lidstrom and Kirk Maltby, but Steve Bernier hammered defenseman Andreas Lilja up against the glass to draw the biggest reaction from the crowd. Dan Cleary and Milan Michalek take matching roughing minors early in the first, 4-on-4 play.

Joe Thornton behind the Sharks net finds Cheechoo on the right side of Hasek. Detroit able to tie up Cheechoo's stick in front. Two chances for Mark Smith and the fourth line are followed by a Kyle Calder hooking penalty. Smith is appearing for only the third time in this playoff run, and he is making the most of his start early. Joe Thornton takes a double minor for high sticking after the refs determine defenseman Danny Markov was cut. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are skating almost unfettered. The Sharks have had no answer for the pair in this series, and the puck appears to be glued on their stick for long stretches.

Goaltender Dominik Hasek tries to clear the puck, but instead shovels it to Mike Grier behind the net. Grier was able to beat Lidstrom back, but on his wrap around attempt on a wide open net Listrom was able to get his stick up against the post and stop the puck at the blueline. Pivotal moment of the game. Jaws are wide open in the press box, and in the stands there is only stunned silence. Later in the period, Johan Franzen broke Samuelsson out of the Wings defensive zone with a pass along the right boards. Samuelsson turns on the speed and beats Matt Carle cleanly, who has to turn his back and try to dig on his skates and get back into the play. He can not. On a full sprint, Samuelsson breaks his wrists to freeze Nabokov and tucks the puck in on his backhand at the last second. Goal, Detroit leads 1-0.

With the seconds ticking down in the first, a Sharks defenseman stepped up to hit Franzen at the top of the Red Wings defensive zone. The puck is moved up by the Red Wings, and a backchecking Cheechoo tries a stick check at the blue line. Samuelsson stick handles past Cheechoo and creates a 2-on-1 with Robert Lang against Sharks rookie defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Vlasic takes away the pass to Lang, and Samuelsson beats Nabokov cleanly up high glove side for his second goal of the game. Detroit leads 2-0, more stunned silence from the crowd at HP Pavilion.

The second goal was scored with 8 seconds left in the first, another troubling late period mistake that has killed San Jose in this series. Chris Chelios assisted on each of Detroit's goals. The top line of Thornton, Cheechoo, and Clowe are each -2 after 20 minutes. It is not reflective of their play in the period.

Sharks again come out to start the second period by initiating the physical play. Bernier gets a point blank scoring chance in front of the crease, save Hasek. Thornton backhands the puck from behind the Detroit net to Christian Ehrhoff at the blueline. Big pointshot from Ehrhoff, save Hasek. The Sharks cycle the puck down low on the power play. Thornton moves it up to Clowe on the right half boards, who passes out to Ehrhoff on the point. Another bomb from Ehrhoff is deflected wide from Hasek, with Thornton and Cheechoo on the doorstep.

Later in the second, Ehrhoff dances around two Red Wings in the neutral zone. He fans on a shot as 3 Sharks crash the net. Bell lets go with a hard shot from 10 feet out, that deflects off of the mass of bodies piled up in front of Hasek. Save pile of bodies. On a rush, Thornton passes back to Rivet and then makes a b-line for the crease. Thornton runs into Lidstrom, who crashes into the net and knocks it off its moorings just as Rivet shoots the puck high and wide. No penalty, crowd objects vociferously.

Steve Bernier creates the best scoring chance of the second period with a breakaway down the right wing on Hasek. Bernier snapped off a shot, and then hacked at a rebound, but Hasek comes up big. No big reaction from Hasek, no evident emotion, just another day at the office stoning a 235 pound freight train flying at you with bad intentions. After a turnover by Carle, Datsyuk fires two quick shots on Nabokov. First save Nabokov, second shot hit the side of the net.

On a puzzling play in the second, Evgeni Nabokov breaks his stick and has to throw it down on the ice. Twice, his teammates skated out to retrive the puck and hand it back to him. He has to throw it down again each time or risk taking a penalty. The Sharks continue to play the puck for an extended period in front of Evgeni, and twice turn it over to Detroit. A shot by Kris Draper was blocked, but a hard shot from Pavel Datsyuk tested Nabokov low. He deflected it to the side while using a forward's stick.

Sharks head coach Ron Wilson is changing up the lines on the fly. Goc-Cheechoo-Rismiller hits the ice to try to provide a spark, and Grier joined Thornton and Clowe on the top line. One sequence deserves further mention. Outnumbered 4-3 in the San Jose defensive zone, a strong Detroit forecheck turned the puck over and created a scoring chance in close. All 3 Detroit Red Wings outskated the 4 San Jose Sharks on the play. It was not emblamatic of Game 6, where the Sharks had their best game since the second half of Game 3. But this sequence was emblamatic of the series up until this point. The Wings looked like the wanted it more, they were getting to loose pucks, winning battles along the boards, blocking shots, and collapsing in front of Hasek to smother any Sharks scoring opportunities.

Sharks pressure the Detroit zone late in the second, and defenseman Chris Chelios is forced to take a hooking penalty with 9 seconds left to play in the period. After 2 periods: Listrom 19:07 TOI, Chelios 18:03, Lilja 14:27, Markov 13:35, Lebda 8:00, Quincey 4:45.

Key play of the third period was a diving Craig Rivet trying to keep the puck in on the tail end of a power play. The puck skips just outside of the blueline, but Kris Draper hops over Rivet and accelerates through the neutral zone 120 feet in on Nabokov. Christian Ehrhoff is caught flat footed at the other point looking at Draper skate by him. Evgeni Nabokov surprised Draper by choking far up on his stick, and throwing it far out in front of the crease to poke check the puck. As a prone Nabokov spun his legs up in the air to block a rebound, the puck trickled wide right. You sir, have been bailed out by your goaltender.

Marcel Goc keeps possession in the offensive zone after being challenged by two Red Wings. Goc finds Patrick Rissmiller at the right faceoff dot, who unloads a one timer. Shoulder save Hasek. During the pre-game meal, a Detroit area writer said Dominik Hasek has a habit of throwing 1 or 2 shutout performances a series. It is following that pattern in Game 6. Jonathan Cheechoo breaks down the right wing, and wrists a shot that deflects to the stick of Mike Grier on the other side of the crease. While Lidstrom closed off the angle on Cheechoo and forced him to make a low percentage shot, Danny Markov closed off the angle on Grier and forced him to shoot it in the side of the net.

Last chance time for San Jose, with less than two minutes left in the third defenseman Ehrhoff beats two Red Wings to a rebound in front of Hasek. With his stick on the ice, Ehrhoff tried to go five hole but Hasek swallows the puck, and any hope for San Jose in Game 6. It is all over but the handshake.

(Our PP) didn't get enough shots, or any shots, from the point. It is very important to establish that in a series. Our first power play in the series was as good as it has been all year. From that point on we didn't get through, or were dynamic enough on the back end to make things happen. We wanted anything from the point thrown at the net. We didn't even attempt to shoot the puck. It is frustrating when the D stops shooting the puck, I guess you think it is going to get blocked or whatever. Then you get the attitude from our forwards, and you can hear them tonight. If they are not going to shoot, we are not going to pass it back there. Then before you know it you are playing on your power play 3-on-4 down low, they have 4. And 5-on-5, they have 5. We just didn't want to shoot the puck, or were afraif it would get blocked. That is something we have to get better at.

Post-game comments from Ron Wilson, Joe Thornton, Mike Grier and Jonathan Cheechoo

Post-game comments from Ron Wilson, Joe Thornton, Mike Grier and Jonathan Cheechoo.

From San Jose Sharks head coach Ron Wilson:

I am shocked at where we put ourselves in the series, and how we let it get away. I am not totally shocked that Detroit beat us. They were ahead of us in the standings and they had a great season. But we worked really hard to get a 2-1 lead in the series, and in game four a 2-0 lead, and we lost it towards the end. That is where the series went out of the window. So from where we put ourselves, if you would have said before the series started that you could lose in 6 ot 7 games, with two great teams it is a coin toss. I am disappointed in the result because of what we accomplished.

Mike made a great play, anticipating a pass. And Nicklas Lidstrom made probably a better play to get his stick down. In sports you deal with adversity and how you respond to it. We had some chances. Berny had a breakaway in the second period. We could have turned things around. Our start, we were physical and had them hemmed in. In the first period we made two mistakes they scored on. That was pretty much it the rest of the way. They sat back and we couldn't generate as many changes as we would have liked.

To be honest with you, Hasek played really well. With the exception of the play where Grier intercepted the puck, he never made a mistake all night. In other games where he made mistakes, we took advantage. Tonight he simply did not make a mistake. We had some great chances, and he didn't give any rebounds. He moved moved pucks really quickly, not so much behind the net, but he gloves a lot of things and advances it to the D and gets things out of trouble. A lot of other goalies freeze the puck, and you get a lot of faceoffs in the offensive zone.

From center Joe Thornton:

Yes, it is obviously tough. You never want to repeat what we did last year, but that is how it ended. It is not a good feeling. We came out with a good start, we played like we could win this game. There was a good feeling here, but obviously it was not enough. They got more timely goals, we couldn't get any past Dom. He played great tonight.

From right wing Mike Grier:

I knew that I had to get that as quick as I could. I knew there two D were coming, Lidstrom made a good play. Looking back maybe I should have taken another step and tried to lift it up. He made a great play... I was pretty much even with (Lidstrom) going in on Dom. I was able to pick the pass off, and I had to try to get around the net as quick as possible with Lebda coming back on the other side. I think he got it right when it was on the goal line. It was a big momentum play in the game.

From right wing Jonathan Cheechoo:

It would have been nice if we were able to chip in with the power play. You get a lot of opportunities, and you don't score. You are letting your other teammates down. That's the guys who are on the power play, our fault. We were not able to penetrate, or get the similar to the same success.

Hasek played well, but he saw all of the pucks too. In this league, the goalies are so good you have to get people in front of the net. When they see it, they usually stop it.


Preview of the Versus Western Conference Finals promo

Here is a preview of the Versus Western Conference Finals promo that should air during Game 6 of the Sharks-Detroit series tonight (6PM pacific).


Showdown on Cinco de Mayo: Wings take Game Five with a 4-1 win, Sharks face elimination Monday

The Red Wings put an exclamation point on their 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. Pavel Datsyuk capped the third Detroit come-from-behind win in this series by stripping a clearing attempt from Evgeni Nabokov and converting it for the game winning goal.

After an earlier second period goal by Mikael Samuelsson, the Red Wings added two third period insurance goals on the man advantage by Samuelsson and Holmstrom. Marcel Goc scored on a quick wrist shot in the first period for the Sharks, but Dominik Hasek shut the door after that and made 23 saves on 24 shots. The series returns to HP Pavilion on Monday, where the Sharks need a win to stay alive.

Key Plays of the Game:

NBC's Countdown to Faceoff pre-game show, with Brett Hull, Ray Ferraro and Bill Clement live from 30 Rockefeller Center, is streamed online a half an hour before each weekend game here.

"Once the first domino falls, it seems like defensively you can never catch back in position and you always go to help. And when you help, inevidably the puck goes where you should be" - Ray Ferraro discussing the NY Rangers loss to Buffalo.

"In three of four games, (the Sharks) have had a 2-0 lead. In 2 of 3 games, they have blown the lead and lost, games 2 and 4. In both of them captain Patrick Marleau, who has had a terrible series, has made mistakes. Now Marleau is not a young player any more, he is a veteran who should know better. We saw in game 2 he was trying to jump a pass that never comes. His man is Pavel Datsyuk. Woops, there is Pavel Datsyuk scoring the game winning goal. We shift to game 4, 20 seconds left in the game. Look at Patrick Marleau shoot past the puck, and there is an empty net. He and Bill Guerin play this as soft as a grape, and then Valtteri Filppula finds Robert Lang, who ties the game up with probably 30 seconds left." - Bill Clement.

"Patrick Marleau is -4 in the series, no points. I thought San Jose's strength in the series was their 2 big centerman. Unfortunately for them, only Joe Thornton has showed up" - Ray Ferraro.

The San Jose Sharks (est. 91-92) are tied with the Ottawa Senators (est. 92-93) for the post-1991 expansion franchises with the most playoff performances. Each franchise has reached the postseason 10 times. Ottawa has reached the second round 5 times, San Jose 6. Captain Patrick Marleau is tied with Jarome Iginla with the most playoff goals since 2003-04 (20), is tied with Mike Rathje for the most franchise playoff starts in San Jose (71), and leads the Sharks in alltime playoff goals (31) and points (51). The Sharks have the most regular season points (107) ever recorded by a fifth-seeded team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. San Jose is 51-53 in the Stanley Cup playoffs, 15-38-7 alltime vs the Detroit Red Wings. Joe Thornton leads the Sharks in playoff scoring with 1 goal and 10 assists.

The Detroit Red Wings are 30-32 alltime in Stanley Cup game 5's dating back to 1929. Defenseman Chris Chelios ranks 2nd alltime in playoff games (238). In 23 NHL seasons, Chelios has only missed the playoffs once (Chicago 97-98). Captain Nicklas Lidstrom leads the Wings in playoff scoring with 3 goals and 7 assists. The Red Wings have outshot the opposition this postseason by 390-221.





Sharks pressuring Detroit early. The top line of Cheechoo, Michalek and Thornton is the only one that has not changed since game 4. Franzen handcuffs Evgeni Nabokov with a difficult shot, Sharks able to clear rebound.

Marcel Goc on the ice after a line change, trails the play and gets a solid scoring chance that is blocked by Kirk Maltby. The next rush up ice, Grier feeds the puck to Goc at the point and then accelerates towards Hasek. Goc snaps a wrist shot that just beats the Dominator low and to the left. Hasek was not set on the play, the Sharks take another early lead.

Patrick Marleau hits Mathieu Schneider up high in the neutral zone. Schneider, head down, skates directly to the Wings bench. A report says that Schneider has a broken wrist, he is out for the rest of the playoffs. On a Maltby hooking penalty, the Sharks are having trouble getting shots on net. They are 2-17 so far with the man advantage in the series. Hannan sends another long pass up the center of the ice, intercepted briefly by Maltby.

Pierre McGuire interviews Detroit head coach Mike Babcock, who is not happy with his team's play in the first 10 minutes of the game. "We need to get the puck behind their D, and not play in our own zone". Later, McGuire uses video highlights to breakdown the play of Joe Thornton (three keys: vision, defensive awareness, strength).

The Wings throw out their checking line against the Sharks top scoring line. Detroit is putting abotu 15-20 feet between each skater. They are spreading out and providing outlets for the puck carrier. In practice, they worked a lot on transition with the puck while moving, and receiving and giving long passes off of each board. Pavelski (5-11, 195) vs Bertuzzi (6-3, 242) just inside the Sharks blueline. Pavelski gains possession, spins, and clears the puck through the neutral zone. Late tripping penalty on Scott Hannan. Not sure if it is a bad penalty by Hannan, great acting by Datsyuk, or a horrible call by the referees. Possibly all three.

Franzen fires a hard shot at the start of the period through a screen, save Nabokov. Sharks dumping the puck in the zone, instead of relying on puck possession and forcing the Red Wings to take it. With the skill of the Red Wings with the puck on their stuck, dumping the puck in should be a last resort.

Detroit pressing hard up ice. In a simple 50-50 battle for the puck at mid-ice, Joe Thornton loses the battle, and the Wings skate hard the other way to create a 4-on-2 against Nabokov. Evgeni makes the save and then is run into and spun 45 degrees by Tomas Holmstrom. The rebound attempt deflects to the point. Lidstrom shot blocked, Holmstrom picks the puck from a stickless McLaren and finds Zetterberg wide open on the other side of the crease. Goal, score tied 1-1.

Big momentum swing in Detroit's favor. Samuelsson breaks in on Nabokov and wrists a puck over the net. Sharks can not get the puck deep, and Markov finds Lang with a 60 foot pass up ice. Craig Rivet can not close the gap, and Lang's breakaway shot is stopped with the right leg pad of Nabokov.

Sharks dump the puck in on the power play, but are able to reach it first this time. Point blank shot by Bernier, save by Hasek, and Detroit clears. Lidstrom intercepts Ehrhoff's entry pass, and Ehrhoff had to take a penalty with 26 seconds remaiing on the man advantage. Another bad call as both players were fighting for possession, one of the weakest calls of the postseason. Thornton is playing on a line with Grier and Marleau, call it the XXL line. Marleau and Grier get a few swipes at the puck during a rugby scrum in front of Hasek.

The Sharks get the puck in deep, and try to center it in front of the net. Henrik Zetterberg battled with Joe Thornton to the left of Hasek, carried the fight behind the net, and then to the right side of the crease. Zetterberg was able to finally beat Thornton, and get a foot or a stick on the puck for a long clear. Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff and Craig Rivet each back off at the blueline, and force goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to play the puck 20-25 feet from his crease. Pavel Datsyuk splits both defenseman, and challenges Nabokov's attempted pass, and converts the turnover into an empty net for the game winning goal. A game 5 that has been near even for 36 minutes, may have just broken wide open.

Faceoff in the Sharks zone with the Red Wings on the PP. The Wings gain possession after a point shot. Zetterberg behind the net finds Samuelsson, who beats Nabokov cleanly over the blocker. Cheechoo, Michalek and Carle each in minor altercations on the ensuing play. No penalties. Next shift, Cleary beats Carle by two strides to a loose puck. Carle falls down trying to get back into position, and Cleary gets a scoring chance on Nabokov. Bertuzzi is sprung on a breakaway with a long pass through the neutral zone. Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff is able to break up the play at the last second.

Pavel Datsyuk also takes the puck behind the net on the next power play. Datsyuk passes between two Sharks defenseman to Toams Holmstrom in the slot. Patrick Rissmiller and Patrick Marleau leave Holmstrom unchecked, and Holmstrom buries the shot up high for the 4th Detroit goal of the game. The Sharks have the biggest team in the NHL, but no one can match Holmstrom's presence in front of the net offensively, and no one can clear him from the crease on defense. Bernier, Cheechoo, and Grier have set up in front of Hasek all game long, but San Jose can not get the puck through traffic to find them.

Two fans are raising their beers into the camera shot every time the puck is in the Detroit defensive zone. The camera angle is so low, it also gets a good shot of fans leaving early. Now 3 fans are hoisting their beers into the shot. A 2-on-0 breakway on Nabokov is followed by 5 players getting back and challenging a lone Shark in the Wings zone. Glad to see Pierre McGuire seated inbetween both benches with no glass in front of him, but give that spot to a cameraman. McGuire can report just as well behind him, and move to the front for his reports. The game ends with a Hannan vs Maltby scuffle, and several fans toss real and stuffed octopi onto the ice. Dominik Hasek skates to the blueline, takes a long look at one, and then skates to his bench and waits for the crew to clear the ice.

"We talked about it. They were going to come hard. They just lost Matt Schneider, and actually our first shift and a half we had them pinned in their end. The bad part of the first goal is that Kyle McLaren made the right play, and his stick broke. He blocked a shot and didn't have a stick to clear it, and they jumped all over the rebound."

"It was kind of a punch in the gut after the first period to be 1-1 at that point. The second goal was obviously a back breaker emotionally. They were coming, and we did not respond very well until the last 7 or 8 minutes of the third period."

"I would rather lose a game 4-1 than another of these 2-1 and lose it late in the game. There are a lot of things we can build from in this game."

"2-1, 4-1, it doesn't matter. We have guys getting physical. We have some guys showing emotion. I will take that anytime. If we would have just rolled over, I wouldn't have been very happy."

(On the PP) "Unfortunately we have not had poise, especially on the point. We haven't got shots through, or for that matter even attempted shots. It is something we are going to have to discuss and just find a way. We can't go out and find guys to play the point on the power play. The guys who are out there need to get the job done. They are going to have to fight their way through it."

Ross McKeon of the SF Chronicle reports that the Sharks were 0-11 on the power play in the last 2 games, and that Danny Markov (26:31) and Chris Chelios (25:40) increased their ice time in Mathieu Schnieder's absence. Ray Ratto looks at why the Sharks are struggling tom maintain leads after the first period.

Victor Chi of the San Jose Mercury News calls the Sharks 4-1 loss an implosion. On the phone with a blogger from Anaheim after the game I tried to find a few excuses for the mishandled puck, but there were none. Nabokov was hung out to dry by Carle and Rivet, but there is no excuse for not getting the puck past Datsyuk. David Pollak of the Merc notes that Tomas Holmstrom has been an impact player in front of the net for Detroit.

Michigan Live's Ansar Khan called Game 5 Detroit's most impressive performance of the season, and thinks that the Sharks late game fades may be attributable to fatigue or a lack of confidence. The Detroit news leads with a joyous 3-sport headline and Wings cover photo WIN, WIN, WIN! Bob Wojnowski notes that the Pendulum may be swinging in the Wings direction, and John Niyo reports that the injury to Mathieu Schneider may come back to haunt Detroit. According to Niyo, defenseman Brett Lebda may come back from an ankle injury in time for game 6 in San Jose.

It's a gimme, Wings gain control of series on Nabokov's blunder, must end series Monday - Mitch Albom.

The Red Wings and Sharks were locked in yet another wrestling match, body on body, stick on stick, barely a paper sheet's distance between them. The score was tied. The series was tied. Something needed to snap.

And here it was: Nabokov had to come out beyond the crease, Datsyuk was charging, fans rose to their feet as if sensing a bullfight at the critical surge. The net was vulnerable. Now it was a race. Would Datsyuk get it? Would Nabokov get it? At the last instant -- and this is what makes him a unique talent -- Datsyuk gave up on the puck and zoomed left, playing the clearing pass instead. Nabokov was a blink slower. He swept the puck to his right before his eyes could tell his brain it was the wrong direction.

[Update] Wings 4, Sharks 1 - Behind the Jersey.

[Update2] Marleau's routine check breaks Schneider's wrist - SJ Mercury News.


Top 10 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Moments from Versus

Versus Top NHL Playoff Moments
NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
Bobby Orr goal Boston Bruins 1970 Stanley Cup

Versus is asking hockey fans to rank the best NHL playoff moments of all time. Included are a number of video highlights from Bobby Orr's diving goal for Boston in overtime, the Sabres vs Flyers "Fog Bowl" game of 1975, the 8-seed Sharks shocking the world against the Detroit Red Wings in 94, and several dozen more.

My preliminary rankings:

1. The Goal
Mothers Day 1970, Bobby Orr scores on a diving play in front of the St Louis Blues net to give the Boston Bruins a Cup winning overtime goal. An iconic goal for Boston and for the NHL.

2. Win one for Vlad
The Red Wings win their second straight Stanley Cup in 1998 and captain Steve Yzerman places the trophy on the lap of defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov, who was paralyzed in a car accident during the offseason.

3. Ray Bourque wins a Stanley Cup after 22 seasons
After two decades patrolling the blueline in Boston, Ray Bourque wins a Stanley Cup with Colorado in only his second season with the Avalanche. Boston fans, myself included, are stunned.

4. Sharks shock the world in 1994, and Hockeytown
Sergei Makarov and Igor Larionov reunited on a line with Johan Garpenlov to power the Sharks past top seeded Detroit in the first round of the 1994 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The fans heading downtown celebrated like the 4th of July, Cinco de Mayo, and New Years Eve rolled into one.

5. Kariya scores after monstrous Stevens hit
After being leveled by a legendary Scott Stevens hit at center ice and knocked partially unconscious, Paul Kariya returns to the game to score a goal on his next shift.

6. What Broken Leg?
Toronto defenseman Bobby Baun leaves the game with a broken ankle, and then returns to score an overtime game winning goal to send the series to a game 7.

7. Rookie Roy wins the Cup and a Conn Smythe
Patrick Roy backstopped the Montreal Canadiens to a cup during his rookie season in 1995, and took home a Conn Smythe playoff MVP trophy in the process. Don't think this should be #7? I'm sorry, I can't hear you. I have Roy's 2 Stanley Cup rings stuck in my ears.

8. No More 1940
The Rangers win the Stanley Cup for the first time in 50+ years and end the 1940 taunts of rival Islanders fans once and for all.

9. The Original Fog Bowl
On a hot Buffalo night in May of 1975, the Sabres and Flyers have to skate through 5-7 feet of thick fog that would not clear. Buffalo handled the fog, and then handled Philadelphia in overtime.

10. Sharks win Game 7 against Calgary Flames
After taking the NHL by storm in 1994, the Sharks repeated the feat in 1995 against the heavily favored Calgary Flames. Ray Whitney scored the game winning goal in double overtime of game 7. Goaltender Arturs Irbe plays "like wall".

[Update] Flashback: The historic Habs photographs of James Rice - Habs Inside and Out.

[Update2] Bobby Orr - The Goal (Photo and Story) - Bobbyorrhalloffame.com.


Hockey Notes - May 4th

- From the San Jose media:

David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News reports on the local allegiences of the citizens of St Thomas, Ontario (Joe Thornton's hometown), and the Morning Buzz asks Was a Dead Sharks a Bad Omen?. The San Francisco Chronicle's Ray Ratto examines the adjustments head coach Ron Wilson needs to make for Game 5 in Detroit.

- From the Detroit media:

Mlive reports that Wednesday's 3-2 overtime win may give the Wings the confidence it needs to regain momentum in the series, and boost the production of Robert Lang in particular. The Detroit News republished a column by San Jose's own Mark Purdy Sharks looking in mirror?, and made a case for goaltender Dominik Hasek as the best free agent acquisition in the NHL (Hasek signed for $500,000). DetNews also noted that Tomas Holmstrom was not on the ice for the game winning power play on Wednesday because of a broken skate blade, not an injury, and posted a wide angle photo of Dominik Hasek's celebration at HP Pavilion on the their Wings Blog. The Detroit Free Press notes that defenseman Brett Lebda will not play on Friday, the Kyle Quincey is expected to remain paired with Chris Chelios, and that by calling out Patrick Marleau and Bill Guerin coach Ron Wilson is trying not to repeat history.

- A press release from the San Jose Sharks:

The San Jose Sharks announced today that Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Sharks and Red Wings on Monday, April 7 is TBD at 6 or 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on FSN-HD.

The exact start time is conditional to the New Jersey and Ottawa game on Saturday evening. Should New Jersey win on Saturday, there will be a Game Six between Ottawa and New Jersey on Monday. In this situation, the Sharks and Red Wings game will begin at 7 p.m. (Pacific). Should Ottawa win the series on Saturday, the Sharks game on Monday will start at 6 p.m. (Pacific).

- An update yesterday from the Sharks on the status of Bill Guerin: "Day-to-day with a facial laceration, doubtful for Saturday." Guerin was hit in the face with a puck on a deflected shot by Christian Ehrhoff in OT on Wednesday. Guerin did not travel with the team to Michigan.

- Patrick Marleau Reunited With Steve Bernier, Guerin Out For Game 5 - SJsharks.com.

Captain Patrick Marleau will be reunited with right wing Steve Bernier when the Sharks take the ice on Saturday afternoon for the crucial Game 5 of their Western Conference Semifinal series against the Detroit Red Wings. The series sits knotted at 2-2.

Marleau had been paired with right wing Bill Guerin, but Guerin will be out of the lineup for Game 5 due to a facial laceration that he sustained when he was struck by an errant puck in the late stages of Game 4. He is listed as day-to-day and a timetable for his return has not been set.

- Wings, Sharks putting past playoff failures behind - Scott Burnside.

- The Detroit Red Wings alltime record in playoff Game 5's: 30-32 (dating back to 1929). Detroit lost to San Jose 4 games to 3 in the 1994 WCQF, and defeated the Sharks 4-0 in the 1995 WCQF.

- The San Jose Sharks had an opportunity to reach a .500 franchise playoff record with a win over Detroit in Game 4. With the loss the Sharks are 51-53 alltime in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Sharks are 15-38-7 alltime vs the Red Wings.

- Make sure to take a look at the statistical analysis by PBP on the excellent From Behind the Mask blog: Sharks - Wings Tale of the Tape after 4 games.

After 4 games: shots (SJ-92, DET-135), faceoffs (SJ-46%, DET-54%), blocked shots (SJ-55, DET-33), Shots+Missedshots+blockedshots (SJ-175, DET-245), goalie save percentage (Nabokov .948, Hasek.913).

- Added Hockeybuzz.com's Sharks blogger Ryan Garner to the San Jose blogroll on the right. His latest post takes a critical look at the Sharks 3-2 overtime loss on Wednesday.

- More on San Jose's loss in game 4: After holding a 2-0 lead, then allowing Tomas Holmstrom to score with 4.5 seconds left in the second period, letting Robert Lang tie the game in the third period with 33.1 seconds left, and giving Mathieu Schnieder the opportunity to score the game winner on a failed clearing attempt, that was about as bad of a playoff loss as it gets. That being said, it was still only one game. The question for the Sharks before game 5 is can they expunge that loss from memory, and can they rebound to play 60 full minutes of their style hockey, instead of taking a lead and playing not to lose?

- Ron Wilson added Mark Bell to the lineup for game 2, Joe Pavelski for game 3, and Mark Smith for game 4. With Bill Guerin missing from the lineup in game 5 there could be two slots for adjustment.

- I did not witness the event, but apparently a 3-foot leopard shark was thrown on the ice after Jonathan Cheechoo's goal on Wednesday night.

- In addition to 27 consecutive sellouts to end the regular season, 36 of 41 overall, the Sharks have sold out 4 consecutive playoff games. The last time there was an available Sharks ticket was December 11th against the Phoenix Coyotes.

The San Jose Sharks announced that tickets for Game 6 (Game "G") of the 2007 Western Conference Semi Finals to be played at HP Pavilion at San Jose on Monday, May 7, will go on sale to the general public on Friday, May 4 at 10 a.m. Due to the limited number of tickets available, individuals will be allowed to purchase up to two tickets TOTAL.

- Versus sent in a gross of black and grey "NHL Playoffs on Versus" shirts to hand out to hockey fans. A few dozen fans went home Wednesday with a cool souvenir, the rest will be given out at game 6 on Monday. There also might be a contest for fans to recount their favorite moment of the NHL playoffs for a few Versus prize packs. The playoff gear was sponsored by the Best Playoff Moments of Alltime micro-site on Versus.com.

- You may have noticed the photo gallery from game 4 looked a little different than those of the past. Nikon sent me a d80 DSLR and a 18-135mm lens to tryout for a year. I had the walk from 2nd street to HP Pavilion to adjust all of the settings for the first time. Look for a full review of the d80 after the NHL playoffs, and after I can attend a few different events. Nikon also offered a walk through of the camera with a member of their team, so I will ask a few of the more difficult questions most photographers have asked me about: setting white balance, exposure compensation, bracketing, etc. Nikon had an earlier advertising campaign where it gave d80's to a few select photographers on flickr.com, and the results were impressive (large PDF file). It was one of my favorite advertising campaigns of the year.

- The Washington Captials continue their expansion of hockey coverage by sending 4 reporters to write about the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship in Moscow, Russia. The reporting from Moscow is available on washingtoncaps.com/worlds, and from the first post it looks like Capitals owner Ted Leonsis drafted a few bloggers from On Frozen Blog to write about the World Championships.

Thanks to Paul Kukla of Kukla's Korner for the link, and for an update on a possibly imminent IIHF agreement on player transfers between Russia and the NHL. The Washington Capitals also partnered with Clearspring Technologies to deliver audio, video and written content.

- Bloggers On A Rocket To Russia - Offwing.com. Just a note, my first online video Pavel Bure - Rocket Ride has hit 10,000+ viewers on Youtube. If I can get access to more clips from the Florida Panthers or New York Rangers I may make a second version.

- O Captain, My Captain: Doan leads Canada past Belarus - IIWC.net.

Canadian captain Shane Doan's actions spoke louder than words on Friday afternoon in Moscow, as he led his team to a 6-3 win over Belarus with a natural hat trick in a span of 6:35 in the second period. His goals came shorthanded, on the power play, and at even strength. The win leaves Canada atop Group F with nine points...

"It shows you the level of professional [Doan] is, by shelving everything that was going on and going out and leading us by example tonight," said Canadian forward Mike Cammalleri, alluding to the recent controversy in the Canadian Parliament about Doan's appointment as team captain. "We have a live feed of the Canadian media at our hotel, so we've been aware of what's going on."

- The remaining webcast schedule for the 2007 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships from Moscow, Russia on wcsn.com ($4.95 for the entire month) is available here:

Friday, May 4
1C vs. 3B: Watch LIVE at 8:15 a.m. ET
4B vs. 4C: Watch LIVE at 8:15 a.m. ET
1D vs. 3A: Watch LIVE at 12:15 p.m. ET
4A vs. 4D: Watch LIVE at 12:15 p.m. ET

Saturday, May 5
2A vs. 3D: Watch LIVE at 8:15 a.m. ET
2B vs. 2C: Watch LIVE at 8:15 a.m. ET
2D vs. 3A: Watch LIVE at 12:15 p.m. ET
1B vs. 2C: Watch LIVE at 1215 p.m. ET

Sunday, May 6
4A vs. 4B: Watch LIVE at 4:15 a.m. ET
4D vs. 4C: Watch LIVE at 4:15 a.m. ET
1D vs. 2A: Watch LIVE at 8:15 a.m. ET
2C vs. 3B: Watch LIVE at 8:15 a.m. ET
1A vs. 2D: Watch LIVE at 12:15 p.m. ET
1B vs. 1C: Watch LIVE at 12:15 p.m. ET

Monday, May 7
4B vs. 4D: Watch LIVE at 4:15 a.m. ET
4C vs. 4A: Watch LIVE at 4:15 a.m. ET
3A vs. 3D: Watch LIVE at 8:15 a.m. ET
3B vs. 3C: Watch LIVE at 8:15 a.m. ET
1A vs. 1D: Watch LIVE at 12:15 p.m. ET
1C vs. 2B: Watch LIVE at 12:15 p.m. ET

Wednesday, May 9
E1 vs. F4: Watch LIVE at 8:15 a.m. ET
E2 vs. F3: Watch LIVE at 12:15 p.m. ET

Thursday, May 10
F1 vs. E4: Watch LIVE at 8:15 a.m. ET
F2 vs. E3: Watch LIVE at 12:15 p.m. ET

Saturday, May 12
W(E1-F4) vs. W(F2-E3) Watch LIVE at 7:15 a.m. ET
W(F1-E4) vs. W(E2-F3) Watch LIVE at 11:15 a.m. ET

Sunday, May 13
Consolation match: Watch LIVE at 8:15 a.m. ET
Championship: Watch LIVE at 12:15 p.m. ET

- Comments were removed on this blog due to several automated spam messages last night.

[Update] Scotty Bowman: Hockey world's most knowledgeable blogger - Eric Duhatschek.

The hockey world's most knowledgeable blogger, Scotty Bowman, turned at the HP Pavilion Tuesday morning for the Detroit Red Wings optional skate. Though retired, Bowman remains a consultant to the Red Wings' staff and he spent a good 15 minutes or so visiting with coach Mike Babcock before practice, mostly talking about the gridlock that has punctuated this and other NHL playoff series to date. "Whatever happened to the new NHL?" said Bowman...

The NHL asked Bowman to offer his thoughts on the playoffs in a once or twice a week blog. He actually has a ghost blogger, who calls and transcribes his thoughts. Bowman has never met his blogger, but says: "He's a big Rangers fan, so I've got to be careful. The Devils don't get a tumble. He was so excited after (the Game 3 win over Buffalo) he called me about an hour after the game."

[Update2] The new NHL Fanhouse from AOL has put together a who's-who of opinionated hockey bloggers. The latest Sharks Fanhouse posts range from calling Bill Guerin "An Expensive Piece of Playoff Furniture", to Ron Wilson's use of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby as a motivational tool, to Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle calling Anaheim "the hockey capital of the West Coast".

Bring it Anaheim, is that the best you got?

[Update3] For movies as motivational tools there is only one option, Glengary GlenRoss. As seen here during the 2004 Western Conference Finals with Calgary; Stanley Cups are for Closers Only.


Last Minute Loss: 2nd period goal with 4.5 seconds left Homstrom, 3rd period goal with 33.1 seconds left Lang, Schnieder's GW slapshot in OT

Detroit Red Wings game winning goal
Patrick Marleau Tomas Holmstrom

The Sharks opened the scoring in game 4 with a trademark Joe Thornton half boards pass to Jonathan "the hammer" Cheechoo in front of the crease. Cheechoo hammered home the shot and put the Sharks up 1-0 at the end of the first period. San Jose was able to build on that lead on a second period goal by Marcel Goc. On a delayed penalty, Goc mishit a high wobbling puck that deflected off of the helmet of defenseman Andreas Lilja and beat Dominik Hasek high.

After missing the first three games of the Western Conference Semifinals, left wing Tomas Holmstrom returned to the Detroit lineup at provided an impact role in front of the net. Henrik Zetterberg tried to shoot the puck off the draw with 9.7 seconds left in the middle period. Zetterberg missed, but drew the puck back to the point where Nick Lidstrom unloaded a hard wrist shot on net. Tomas Holmstrom batted a rebound out of midair with 4.5 seconds left in the second period to put Detroit on the board.

The last minute scoring continued in the third period as Robert Lang beat Evgeni Nabokov glove side to silence the 17,500 fans with 33.1 second left in the game. The Red Wings pressured San Jose in the overtime period, outshooting the home team 12-6. Defenseman Scott Hannan tried to clear the puck down the middle of the ice from behind his own net, but Mathieu Schnieder intercepted the puck inside the blueline. A Schnieder slapshot deflected off the crossbar and past Nabokov to give the Red Wings a 3-2 overtime win, and a 2-2 tie in the Western Conference Semis.

WCSF Game 4 Press Conference, comments by head coaches Mike Babcock and Ron Wilson

Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock:

This is exactly what I expected. I actually expected to win the other night, but I thought we would go home 2-2. They are a real good team, and we are a real good team. That is why it is so hard to control games. Both teams are used to controlling the tempo of the whole game. That is what happens all year long. That is why you don't think you played that good, because the other team is on top of you, you are on top of them. The play is usually about half and half...

It is a best of threee now, and as the gentleman said we are going home. There hasn't been much momentum carried from game to game in this series in my opinion. It is going to be a battle of wills. I read something about a lot of these series are decided by inches. Tonight our goal goes off the bar. That is how tight it is, and that is how close it is.

San Jose Sharks head coach Ron Wilson (mp3 file):

When the other team pulls their goalie, if you get on the right side of the puck, you don't even have to worry about overtime. Rizz is doing what he should do. We didn't clear the puck, and its a desperation move to try to block the shot...

They are a damn good hockey team. They were desperate. Again, I need a couple guys to wake up in the series or it is going to be over. You can't take a week off in the second round of the playoffs. If you only have one line that is being creative offensively, they are going to focus on that and try to deny chances. We need more contributions from other people.


Red Wings keys to Game 4 from the Detroit bloggers

Dominik Hasek
The Detroit area bloggers break down the key for the Red Wings in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinal series:

Christy Hammond from BehindtheJersey.com:

1) Crash the net. Not interfere with Nabokov, but the Wings need to screen him and pounce on this juicy rebounds that Nabokov tends to give up. Fortunately, Tomas Holmstrom will return from his eye injury and he's the best at screening goaltenders and driving them mad so I think we'll definitely see a big improvement in this area. 2) Be physical. The Wings need to throw their bodies around and fight for those loose pucks in the corner. I have become a big supporter of Todd Bertuzzi, but he hasn't been great the past two games. The Wings don't necessarily need him to score (although that'd be great), but they do need him to be physical out on the ice without costly penalties like the elbowing penalty late in Game #3. 3) Good goaltending. Dominik Hasek needs to have another great game like he did in Game #3. The Wings can't afford for him to go mental and produce a costly turnover (like the one resulting in a goal in Game #2). Ideally, that means Hasek will stay in the confines of his crease to focus on making saves instead of wandering outside the crease and partaking in some poor stick handling skills.

Matt Schwartz of LetsgoWings.com:

1) Detroit needs to act, not react, for 60+ minutes tonight. They initiated the play the first 30 minutes of Game 3 then buckled once Clowe tied the game. 2) Win the special teams battle. In a series this close games are won and lost on special teams. Getting a 30-goal scorer in Holmstrom back is a huge lift to a power-play that showed signs of life (actual player movement instead of passing around the perimeter!) on Monday night. 3)Play smart in the defensive zone -- if you're not sure, flick it up along the glass. The Sharks have been fantastic at anticipating the Wings' passes out of the zone and it has resulted in an embarassing number of turnovers at their own blueline. The Wings can't win if they can't get the puck out of their own zone and keep their shifts short.

Matt Saler of OntheWings.com:

1) Play a full 60 minutes, 2) No dumb penalties, 3) Support Hasek/No soft goals.

This post was delayed due to an unreported outage at Blogger.

NHL Award Nominees

The NHL announced its 2006-07 NHL award finalists this week. My selections are in bold:

CALDER MEMORIAL TROPHY (outstanding rookie): Evgeni Malkin, Penguins; Jordan Staal, Penguins; Paul Stastny, Avalanche.

FRANK J. SELKE TROPHY (outstanding defensive forward): Rod Brind'Amour, Hurricanes; Samuel Pahlsson, Ducks; Jay Pandolfo, Devils; write-in: Boyd Gordon, Washington Capitals.

HART MEMORIAL TROPHY (most valuable player to his team): Martin Brodeur, Devils; Sidney Crosby, Penguins; Roberto Luongo, Canucks.

JACK ADAMS AWARD (outstanding coach): Lindy Ruff, Sabres; Michel Therrien, Penguins; Alain Vigneault, Canucks.

JAMES NORRIS MEMORIAL TROPHY (outstanding defenseman): Nicklas Lidstrom, Red Wings; Scott Niedermayer, Ducks; Chris Pronger, Ducks.

LADY BYNG MEMORIAL TROPHY (sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct): Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings; Joe Sakic, Avalanche; Martin St. Louis, Lightning.

LESTER B. PEARSON AWARD (most outstanding player as voted by fellow members of the NHLPA): Sidney Crosby, Penguins; Vincent Lecavalier, Lightning; Roberto Luongo, Canucks.

VEZINA TROPHY *** (outstanding goaltender): Martin Brodeur, Devils; Miikka Kiprusoff, Flames; Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers; Roberto Luongo, Canucks.

*** tie for third place in balloting; four finalists named


Sharks dominate second half of Game 3 en route to 2-1 home win

San Jose Sharks Detroit Red Wings playoffs
Jonathan Cheechoo Dominik Hasek
Cheechoo game winning goal

The Red Wings came out flying for 30 minutes in a distinct reversal of the first two games of this Western Conference Semifinal series, but could not sustain the effort en route to a 2-1 loss in game 3. Detroit outshot San Jose 16-7 in the first period, ringed a shot off the post, and captain Nicklas Lidstrom caught Evgeni Nabokov moving in the opposite direction to give the Wings an early 1-0 lead.

Joe Thornton stayed on the ice for an extended shift in the second period with Ryane Clowe and Mike Grier. In the turning point of the game, Joe Thornton found defenseman Matt Carle in the slot, who was able to get a shot off with 6-3 242 pound Todd Bertuzzi draped on top of him. Ryane Clowe spun and backhanded a rebound, but failed to get all of the puck. Dominik Hasek could not adjust to the off speed puck, and it dribbled just inside his leg pad to tie the game at 1-1.

After controlling play for much of the third period, and feeding off of an enthusiastic crowd, the Sharks scored the game winning goal on a third period power play. Dominik Hasek could not control a rebound after a shot by Kyle McLaren. Jonathan Cheechoo picked the puck from his pads, pulled it around a sprawling Hasek, and tucked the puck inside the post before all 4 Detroit players collapsed on the crease. The Sharks earned an impressive 2-1 home win at HP Pavilion, and a 2-1 WCSF series lead.

A photo gallery from inside and outside HP Pavilion on Monday is available here, video higlights from youtube are available here.

Monday Playoff Pre-game Party on Stanley Cup Drive

Sharks fan playoff rally
Sharks fan playoff rally
Sharks fan playoff rally

The San Jose Sharks held a pre-game rally for fans on the newly re-named Stanley Cup Drive prior to game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals against Detroit. The Monday festival included a Wings eating contest sponsored by the local Tied House brewery, a BMX stunt team performing on a large half pipe, face painting and sign making areas, and a beer booth with proceeds donated to the Sharks Foundation charity.