Pens Outplay San Jose, Lead Series 2-0

Pittsburgh, PA

 

Pens Secret Weapon

Pens Secret Weapon

The Sharks were no match for the Penguins and their secret weapon, Sofia Vergara tonight as they lost 2-1 in OT.  Connor Sheary scored early in the extra frame on a rocket past Martin Jones for the win.

The real story is how San Jose hasn’t played well for extended periods of time in the first two games.  In Game One, the Sharks gave up two goals in about a minute to fall behind.  They rallied for the tie by imposing their will on the young Pens but ultimately lost on a late goal.

Tonight, they didn’t play well for about 50 minutes of the game, yet were still able to tie the score with about 5 minutes left.  Following that clutch goal by Justin Braun, they played their cycle game down low and had several great chances to salt the game away in regulation but G Matt Murray was impenetrable.

I could blather on about Mike Sullivan doing more with less or how he has devised a method for taking the Sharks out of their customary dominance in the offensive zone.  Boys, the Sharks are getting outworked and are unable to cycle the biscuit as is their wont.  Tomas Hertl hit three posts in the first two periods, Chris Tierney hit a cross bar and even the Sharks tying goal was through traffic off the post but in.

Joe Thornton looked uncharacteristically vulnerable, Pavelski was a step slow and Brent Burns was ineffective and shot wildly most of the night.  Thornton seems to be bothered by his injured thumb, incurred on a slash by Patrick Berglund of the Blues in the Conference Finals. Yet they lost by one goal in OT.  What does that tell us?  That the San Jose Sharks can play better and I believe they are the team with superior talent.  Six posts and one goal.  Pens hit the post a few times also.

Saturday Night Fights from the The Tank Game 3 at 5 PM.

Hertl Hits the Post

Hertl Hits the Post

 

 

 

 

Whats Up Stanley Cup?

The Tank, CA

 

                The Net

The Net

Five days later, its still sinking in.  Pittsburgh vs San Jose for the Stanley Cup. Wow. Inadequate word for an emotion that has great depth, not only in its origin but its duration.  Enduring 24 years of varied success, regular season and playoffs included.  Season tickets for 20 years.

Pavelski scores the first goal of the game.

Pavelski scores the first goal of the game.

Game Six, great expectations that were realized, the pageantry of the Western Conference Finals, the cachet for the franchise and Silicon Valley.  Five days later it would be redundant to recap it for you.

Suffice it to say it was a hell of a game from a Sharks point of view, complete domination through two and a half periods of fierce forechecking and spectacular goals. All that remained was the nailbiting ending after St Louis had scored twice and were pressing.

Sharks First Goal

Sharks First Goal

Ward Celebrates his Second Goal

Ward Celebrates his Second Goal

Good Omen

Good Omen

Random thoughts and observations….Joe Thornton and Patty Marleau going to a Final is cool.  Pete DeBoer goes to the Stanley Cup Final in his 1st year as coach again, having done it with the New Jersey Devils…  Nick Spaling is as good or better than Andrew Desjardin…Captain Clutch delivers…Fourth line magic…Jones is as cool as Chicago sleet…Penalty kill excellent…Sharks are pure North/South game…Blues caught flatfooted by San Jose’s speed…Young Guns carry San Jose…Penguins might be in for some trouble…Logan Couture for Conn Smythe murmurs…Sharks Defense is deep and talented…Oh and Pittsburgh, what do they got?…Sid, Kessel, Malkin, Letang…Murray the rookie goalie?Hrmm?…

The Handshake

Another Handshake Lies Ahead…

 

Clutch Play by Sharks Stars Gives San Jose a 3-2 Lead

 

 

St Louis, MO

Reilly stickhandles in the backyard.

Reilly stickhandles in the backyard.

The San Jose Sharks score 3 in the third to take the pivotal Game 5 contest Monday night in St. Louis to go up 3-2 in this amazing Western Conference Final.

On a night when G Martin Jones was fighting it all night, his teammates continued their clutch play by coming back from 2-1 and 3-2 deficits to score the go ahead goal 16 seconds into the third period.

Joel Ward tied the score in the second, after the Blues had taken the lead on a goal by power forward Troy Brouwer. Captain Joe Pavs made an amazing spin pass to D man Marc Eduard Vlazic who rifled the puck off the post and goalie Jake Allen, Ward was there to knock it out of the air past the St. Louis goalie.

Soon after that goal the Blues got one back on the power play.  Rookie Robby Fabbri ripped one past Jones to retake the lead as the teams headed towards the end of the second.

Pavelski’s goal

https://www.nhl.com/video/pavelski-roofs-thorntons-feed/t-280765358/c-44042203

Pavelski would score again on the power play to knot the game at three heading to the third period.

In what has become a recurring theme in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the
San Jose stars would come up big again. The Blues won the faceoff to start the period, St. Louis D man Jay Bowmeester tried a bank pass off the boards that eluded his teammate and went down for an icing.

San Jose won the face off back to Burns, who shot wide intentionally with Pavs in the slot. The Captain would tip the puck with the heel of his blade past a befuddled Jake Allen for a 4-3 lead 16 seconds into the third stanza.

What can I say that I haven’t said before about Pavelski?  Dude is playing outta his mind, Conn Smythe worthy.  San Jose would stifle and frustrate the Blues for the duration of the game, scoring 2 empty net goals in the last 90 seconds.

Check out this link

https://www.nhl.com/video/tierneys-empty-net-goal/t-280765358/c-44042903

Chris Tierney would pot the first  empty netter by going one on three against the desperate Blues, stealing the puck back from All Star D man Alex Pieterangelo and tucking the puck into the empty net on a beautiful wrap around.

Fuckin amazing.

I love to Dominate

I love to Dominate

Stanley Cup or Bust, Sharks Vs Blues

San Jose, CA

Game Seven Shark

Game Seven Shark

Two franchises, the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks, much maligned for never winning a Cup, face off in this amazing Western Conference Final beginning today. The Blues were part of the NHL expansion in 1967 have been to the dance but never won.  San Jose, celebrating its 25th anniversary has never advanced to a Cup Final.

That is not a story line for this year although the media will beat that horse to death throughout the remaining games.  I prefer to focus on their intriguing matchup because that’s what we do here.

First, St. Louis is a powerful team with balanced scoring, great puck moving defensemen, and a goalie, Brian Elliot who has taken them past the 2015 Stanley Cup champs, the Hawks, and the Dallas Stars, owners of the best record in the West.  Coach Ken Hitchcock is a great coach and has won a Cup with the Stars in 1999.

Game Seven Action

Game Seven Action

The Sharks, led by Captain Joe Pavelski are not your muthas Sharks anymore.  Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were the face of the franchises futility but are now pieces of the puzzle instead of their best hope for winning it all.  Balanced scoring, very good puck moving defensemen and goalie Martin Jones are what got San Jose to the Finals for the first time since 2011.

Marc "The Pickle" Vlasic taken down by James Neal of Nashville

Marc “The Pickle” Vlasic taken down by James Neal of Nashville

San Jose has exorcised the demons from LaLa Land, beating the Kings in 5 games in the first round.  Moving into the semis, the home teams won all the games with San Jose stomping on the Preds nuts 5-0 in the decisive seventh game on Thursday.  Five different players scored in that contest including the aforementioned Marleau and Thornton, Pavelski, gritty Joel Ward and the clutchest of all the Sharks this post season Logan420Couture.

Couture scores at 4:20 of the 2nd period in Game 2

Couture scores at 4:20 of the 2nd period in Game 2

St. Louis was built to beat the Hawks and the Kings because they lost in the 1st round  to both of those teams in 2012 through 2014 and Minny Soda last year.  Anyway, the point is, who has had more playoff futility than the Blues and Sharks?  The answer is no one.

The good news is that one team will move on and have a great chance to shed their loser moniker. San Jose is built similar to the St Louis team and matches up very well.  The Sharks rookie Jonas Donskoi of San Jose is a Finnish player that can finish, scoring clutch goals all post season and plays as if  he has the puck on a string.  Blues rookie Robbie Fabbri brings a similar scoring prowess and has given St. Louis game breaking speed.

Robby Fabbri scores in Game Seven against the Dallas Stars

Robby Fabbri scores in Game Seven against the Dallas Stars

To sum it up, a great Final awaits their fans and fans of great hockey played with tremendous skill and savior faire.  For my less literate readers, the definition of savior faire is to play with poise, aplomb,adroitness, polish, and style.  In a word, passion, grit and skill will be on display tonight!  So don’t miss this series, could be amazing and one for the ages!

Pekka Rinne throws his stick in Game Seven.

Pekka Rinne throws his stick in Game Seven.

 

Penguins vs Lightning

Reilly stickhandles in the backyard.

Reilly stickhandles in the backyard.

 

Two teams built for speed meet in this intriguing matchup beginning Friday, May 13 and when asked to predict the winner of this Eastern Conference final, I’m ready to flip a coin. Tampa Bay was the #2 seed from the Atlantic Division and took down the those pesky Detroit DeadThings in the first round 4-1.  The Penguins, also the 2 seed from the Metro, faced off against a familiar foe the New York Rangers and defeated the Blueshirts in five games also.

In Round Two, the Penguins faced the Presidents Cup winning Washington Capitals and were considered by many to be the underdogs in the series, however the Pens had the best record in the league coming down the stretch. Scratch the Caps off the list as the Pens rode rookie goaltender Matt Murray to a stunning series win over Washington in six games.  No Ovie in the East Final again.

Tampa Bay faced a New York Islanders team in the semis and it wasn’t a surprise that they prevailed against a fairly one dimensional Isles team.  New York’s star center and captain John Tavares was the points leader and drove the bus for an Islander team that had trouble scoring when he wasn’t on the ice.  Tampa used its speed and balanced scoring lines, plus some OT magic to defeat New York and G Ben Bishop was very good.

Looking ahead to this matchup, one finds many story lines.  Sid the Kid, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang are core players left over from their 2009 Stanley Cup winning team.  Tampa counters with the Triplet Line of Ondre Palat, Tyler Johnston and Nikita Kucherov.  Speed, speed, skill and more speed.  Tampa also has a stud defenseman in Victor Hedman, an omnipresent defender with a knack for scoring from the point.

Pittsburgh has added depth to their scoring with the addition of Phil Kessell, Carl Hagelin and former Sharks property center Nick Bonino, who scored the OT game winner on Tuesday in game six to send the Caps packing for the summer.  The Pens have some kids in the lineup on defense and could be vulnerable.

Tampa has just about everyone back from the team that went to the Cup Finals a year ago and lost in six games to the Blackhawks. Alex Killorn and Ryan Callahan add the grit and scoring to complement the Triplet Line. Pittsburgh has enough veteran leadership to know what it takes to win.

This will be a very entertaining, uptempo series played between two very quick and skilled teams. Tampa has the edge because of goaltending, Ben Bishop should outplay the Pens rookie goalie Matt Murray.  Coaching favors the Lightning also because their coach, John Cooper has been masterful in overcoming the loss of star Steven Stamkos and they went to the Cup last year.  On the flip side Penguins coach Mike Sullivan took over in midseason and has less experience.

Lightning in six games to return to the Cup Final.

Let the games begin

Let the games begin.

 

 

 

We Was Robbed

Nashville, TN

Reilly stickhandles in the backyard.

Reilly stickhandles in the backyard

 

Game 4 of the Preds/Sharks series was one for the ages, rip roaring, nail biting, angst driven, hopes raised then crushed.  Only to be raised again.  A seesaw battle that lasted 110 minutes, it was playoff hockey at its finest with drama, posts, crossbars, thrills, spills, non-calls and oh the little matter of the heist.

The referees and the Situation Room in Toronto blew one for the ages.  At 7:34 of the 1st OT stanza, Joe Pavelski appeared to score the winning goal in OT.  It was vintage Pavs, going to the net,grabbing the puck from midair placing it on the ice, he’s cross checked by Paul Gaustad and tripped by Shea Weber, making contact with goalie Pekker Rinne and while lying prone on the ice,  and shooting it in the net. Yet the ref waved it off saying some tripe about it being batted in with his hand.

LINK TO VIEW THIS INCREDIBLE PLAY:

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/goal-controversy-in-sharks–predators-game-4-overtime–video-044556057.html

SITUATION ROOM VIDEO

https://www.nhl.com/video/c-43869003

I knew and the rest of the world knew that the hullabaloo was about Rinne not being able to make a play on the puck, not Pavelski putting it in the net with  his hand.  This was confirmed upon review, which by the way, was interminable.

The crosscheck by Gaustad combined with the trip by Shea Weberon Pavelski is what caused  goalie interference. San Jose was robbed in front of millions of fans right on TV. Remember, this all happened in about 1.5 seconds. For a ref and the situation room in Toronto to determine what Joe Pavelski’s intention was on the play is LUDICROUS! His intention is to score a FUCKING GOAL! This is a hockey play and any interference on the play was caused by not one, but TWO Predator players.  Sharks should be up 3 games to 1, instead the series is tied 2-2 and it’s a best of three.

The NHL needs to get a handle on the goalie interference issues when it is caused by the GOALIE’S OWN TEAMMATES!  The initials NHL should stand for National Hypocrite League, because the refs failed to uphold a portion of Rule 69 as it relates to goalie interference.  Maybe they thought they would be attacked by the Nashville crowd if they made the correct call.  I don’t know, but here is the text of the rule:

RULE 69 INTERFERENCE ON THE GOALTENDER

“The overriding rationale of the goalie interference rule is that a goalkeeper should have the ability to move freely within his goal crease without being hindered by the actions of an attacking player. If an attacking player enters the goal crease and, by his actions, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

SEE BELOW for the one that WASN’T enforced and so therefore it should have been a good goal:

“If an attacking player has been pushed, shoved, or fouled by a defending player so as to cause him to come into contact with the goalkeeper, such contact will not be deemed contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.”

That’s it, nothing more is said in the rules regarding what happens if the attacking player (Pavelski), is fouled, mugged, whatever, and the puck goes in the net. The implication is that its a good goal if no foul is committed by Pavelski.  But it doesn’t say it.  In OT,  defending players are given carte blanche to commit mayhem on the body of the attacking player in the interest of preserving the tie score.  Especially if the attacking player touches their goalie or is about to.

Further verbiage ie: hypocrisy

” If, after any contact by a goalkeeper who is attempting to establish position in his goal crease, the attacking player does not immediately vacate his current position in the goal crease (i.e. give ground to the goalkeeper), and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.”

This is the part of the rule that negated the goal. To finish the text of the rule: “In all such cases, whether or not a goal is scored, the attacking player will receive a minor penalty for goalkeeper interference.”

Pavelski did NOT receive a penalty on the play, so that contradicts Rule 69. 3  However, the ultimate penalty was assessed:  The NHL and the refs turned a hard fought victory into a loss.

I’m not whining, just stating the obvious.  The Sharks and Preds played for another 40 minutes of intense UFC style combat hockey, mano a mano.   The Preds hit a couple of posts, the Sharks hit a post and a crossbar.  The Pekker played out of his MIND.  G Martin Jones was splendid yet was tagged with the loss.

All I’m sayin’ is this, if you have a rule enforce it.  Make it black and white, but have the balls to call it and stick with it.  This isn’t the first time this has happened, nor will it be the last.  Something has to change, National Hypocrite League!

I grew this beard last night.

I grew this beard last night.

 

#Smash Nash Accomplished, Sharks Skate to Victory in Game 2

Joe Paw

The Tank, CA

The San Jose Sharks have found a formula that works: get great goaltending from Martin Jones and clutch scoring from Logan Couture and the Captain Joe Pavelski, and voila, a 2-0 series lead in this best of seven semifinal series with the Nashville Predators.

Nashville came out hitting and played a desperate brand of hockey for a large part of the game but it was the Sharks who got the clutch scoring from their core players.  Couture opened the scoring for San Jose by potting a power play goal at 18:36 of the second period,  knocking in a rebound of a Bret Burns Blast to give San Jose the 1-0 lead.

Logan Couture

The power play came as a result of a rather bizarre play by Preds D man Roman Josi.  Nashville had too many men on the ice and as Josi realized the gaffe, he vaulted on to the San Jose bench to try and prevent the penalty call.  San Jose has been deadly on the Power Play in the Playoffs this year, scoring eight times with the man advantage.

Mattias Ekholm tied the game for the Preds in the third period on a nice wrist shot through traffic just inside the blue line, tying the score at 1-1.  The score stayed tied until Joe Pavelski scored his sixth of the playoffs with 2:40 left in the game, knocking in a rebound of a Matt Nieto shot past a sprawling Rinne.

As the clock wore down, Nashville pulled Rinne and with 3.6 seconds left, Ryan Johansen scored his second goal in as many games, knocking in the fourth shot of the sequence.  San Jose was able to run out the clock and head outta town with a stranglehold on the series.

How many different ways can you praise Pavelski?  As many as you want because he has been the definition of clutch in this years playoffs.  He wore out the Kings in the previous series, and has garnered 10 points in 7 games.  Logan Couture also has 10 points in the playoffs and Martin Jones leads the league in playoff wins with 6.

Some notable players for Nashville that have 0 points: All Star D man Shea Weber, Mike “The Weasel” Ribeiro, Filip Forsberg and James Neal.

Reilly stickhandles in the backyard.

Reilly stickhandles in the backyard.

Reilly the Hockey Dog wants to know, is this our year?  Stay tuned!!