Scott Reese (sideline reporter)—"Seto, talk to me about the importance of momentum in a game like this and building on previous shifts."
Devin Setoguchi—"It’s huge. I mean, we’re playing the best team in the league so you never want to turn pucks over and give them momentum so we have to make sure—"
Joe Thornton (leaning into the picture, interrupting)"—We’re the best team in the league."
Two Saturdays ago the Sharks hosted the Red Wings in what turned out to be the greatest game of the season. Their first two meetings weren’t close. The first a San Jose 4-2 victory, and the second a 6-0 Detroit shellacking in which Nabby was chased off the ice.
Their third meeting on the 17th finally brought out the best from both sides and the result was everything you could want as a sports fan: Two evenly matched teams, a step ahead of everyone else racing up and down the ice, trading goals; a match-up with the potential to be the kind of rivalry that comes up every 10 years or so, the kind of rivalry that’s just, well, special.
Which got me thinking that’s not the only match up I’d like to see this spring.
Western Conference Quarterfinals:
Dallas is currently tied for 11th, but the Stars are only four points out of the eighth seed, and they have four games in hand on the Ducks. There’s a lot to like about this matchup. Last year’s series was capped with a classic four-OT game six that left Dallas so spent they rolled over to the Red Wings in the conference finals.
There’s a little history here…
And there’s a lot here. Any time the phrase “Battle of Alberta” is thrown around I’m game.
As a consolation I’d be willing to take Flames-Nucks instead.
Crosby vs. Ovechkin
Ovechkin vs. Malkin
Mike Yeo vs. the power play…
By the way, watching Malkin go between the legs every time he had the puck near the crease and wondering how long it would take before one of the players from the West laid him out was my favorite running subplot of the All-Star game. I’m 100 percent positive Marty Turco would’ve speared him.
(Speaking of the All-Star game)
Take two thirds of the league’s best line, add the best right wing in the world, and you have what should be the top line for the Hockey Canada next winter in Vancouver. I watched the game trying to figure out if there was any way in hell this could be duplicated in the NHL, and decided that the Olympics was the only way. Think of it, Gold medal game against the Russians, Malkin goes between the legs only to be speared by Turco. Ovechkin skates over and is intercepted by Iginla. Their hands get a little sweaty, maybe their gloves come off.
(Of course, Hockey Canada is contractually obligated to roll out Sidney Crosby on any top line until 2022).
I once knew a Chicago transplant who informed me that even though he was a Blackhawk fan the Sharks were his third and sometimes second favorite team. When I asked how this was possible he replied that the Hawks were his favorite team, whoever was playing Detroit was his second favorite team, and that some nights the Sharks played Detroit.
They’ve met three times in the playoffs, went to seven twice and six the other time. As if they needed anymore fuel to the fire, Mr. Sloppy Seconds himself filmed a commercial over the summer where he arrogantly boasted that he couldn’t afford to enjoy his hits. The player he was hitting in the commercial? Patrick Marleau.
The result of their first meeting? Sharks 6, Flames 0.
Although, to be honest, I’d rather see Calgary play Detroit. This matchup is why the one seed is going to be so important in the West. The runner-up will have to play the Flames, and the difference between San Jose and Detroit will probably come down to which one didn’t have to play Calgary—just a tough, punishing team that’s going to take something out of you in a seven-game series.
If you follow Boston sports you have Sox-Yankees, Celtics-Lakers, Patriots-Colts, and Bruins-Habs.
Rivalries are nice.
If this doesn’t happen I’m going to feel cheated, and so should you.
The Caps are the one team in the East that really gives Boston trouble. This series would have three MVP candidates, Tim Thomas playing out of his mind, the best player in hockey, and the most obnoxious fans on the planet.
Stanley Cup Finals:
This one’s straight out of a film:
Boston trades their best player for 65 cents on the dollar. He’s hampered by insinuations that he can’t deliver in the playoffs and is too soft to be truly great. As the season progresses they come to find that he’s matured into the best player in the league and wins both the Hart and Art Ross. Since the trade he leads the league in scoring and four years later they meet in the Stanley Cup Finals.
That’s a hell of a story.