Sunday, May 04, 2008

Do You Know The Way To San Jose?

Doo doo doo do doo doo, doo doo doo doo doo. You know how it goes.
Three posts today people. Two here and a little writeup on Neary's, a must see for a pint if you are ever in Dublin. Another half dozen and I will equal Lowetide's daily output. ;)
San Jose just minutes away from trying to get their series all even. Three teams are through now that Pittsburgh won this afternoon. Its been a weird second round. The games have been close and the hockey has been terrific for the most part but three series done in five or less. Tonight the Sharks try and take another step towards doing what only two other teams have ever done. Fun stuff and lets hope they win just to give us something memorable this round.
In a series with three OT games, two won by Dallas, its an interesting reminder, once again, of how a break here or there can turn not only a game or series but the direction of a franchise. This is San Jose's third consecutive year where they have been expected to make some noise, fourth if you include the prelockout playoff where they were knocked off by the Flames in the conference final. I'm not sure if I include that team in this exercise - it was a veteran club that was pretty well taken apart after that season. I'm thinking more of this club after the Thornton trade.
Considering how I wrote earlier today about Kevin Lowe we should look back at game three of the Sharks/Oilers series in 2006. Oilers down 2-0 in games, game three in OT. Roloson stones Cheechoo with a terrific glove save. Horcoff ends the game and the Sharks never get up off the canvas. If Cheechoo scores then the Sharks are up 3-0 and its over for the Oilers. The Sharks go on to take on Anaheim - my guess is they would have won that series. Then what? And what of Kevin Lowe and the Oilers for that matter? Two franchises changed by one save.
Instead the Sharks get knocked off and then Wilson declines to trade for Pronger, according to reports, deciding not to give Lowe Michalek. So last season they go into the playoffs and while not clear favourites the thought is that they are serious contenders. Once again they go out in the second round.
And now this season comes down to tonight. If they lose Ron Wilson will be gone and it will be interesting to see where the Sharks go next. Doug Wilson will certainly have two teams to think about. There are the Ottawa Senators who always looked to be a club who might take that next step but who after a decade as a team that most expected big things of have pretty well seen that window of opportunity slam shut once and for all this spring.
And there are the Red Wings, in their seventeenth straight year in the playoffs. The Wings, like the Sharks, built through the draft. Daryl Katz should be contacting their European scouting staff and mailing them blank cheques. Anyhow after years in the wilderness the Wings had 98 points in 1992 (this is pre Bettman points mind you when a ninety point season was impressive). That year they lost in the second round to a great veteran Chicago club who were on their way to the final. The following year the Wings finished with 103 points and promptly lost in the first round to the Leafs. The year after that they had 100 points and lost in the first round again, this time to the barely out of diapers San Jose Sharks.
There was no purge of the youngsters although there were some moves made. The Wings made the Fianls in 95 where they were swept by the Devils and the next year they were beaten by the Avs in the first of the great series between those two clubs.
Five years of disappointments.
A dozen years later they have three Cups and have been contenders every single year. Sometimes they have been done in by better teams. Sometimes they have fallen to underdogs who have ridden hot goalies past the favoured Wings. Sometimes their own goaltenders have let them down. There have been years, like last year, where injuries have finished them. And other years they have just had bad luck. Remember game five against the Ducks last season? An iffy penalty and then Niedermeyer dinks one in off of Lidstrom to tie it with less then a minute left to force overtime.
And now they are waiting for the Sharks or the Stars and they are likely the favourite to win it all after they pounded Colorado.
Tonight could mean more disappointment for San Jose. And then Doug Wilson has to look at history and figure out if he can afford to stand pat.


andy grabia said...

The hockey season is still going? Huh.

Bruce said...

There was no purge of the youngsters although there were some moves made.

The important purge during that time was of Bryan Murray following the '92-93 season, opening the door for Scotty Bowman. I think that would be an appropriate move for the Sharks to consider at this time. There's no Bowman available (I don't think??), but maybe a different head man could deliver better results in the post season.

A little while back one of the commenters mentioned Bryan Murray and Ron Wilson in the same sentence, to the effect that neither ever has, or in the writer's opinion ever will, won the big one. Can't say as I disagree. Under Ron Wilson the Sharks have posted impressive regular season results, but this is three years running they've been ousted in 6 in the second round. Running in place shouldn't be acceptable for a team this deep in talent.

Black Dog said...

Yeah Bruce Bryan Murray did a pretty decent job building a foundation in Anaheim (although Burke came in and cleaned out a lot of dead wood) but I never figured out why Ottawa hired him as a coach. A team that had excellent regular season results but poor postseason work hires a guy known for the same.

He did get them to the finals last year though.

As for Wilson, I think if Cheechoo scores then maybe the money is off their back but he did not and now someone has to pay the piper. It will be him. Can't fire 23 players as they say.

Good point about Bowman. Was it Bryan Murray that he replaced? I had forgotten that.

therealdeal said...

I was just going to say, the Sharks very well may be the Red Wings of the early 90s, but Ron Wilson is not Scotty Bowman.

Black Dog said...

Interesting note I read today, maybe at Mirtle's?, about how Wilson walked in the room and wrote Vlasic, Carle and Michalek's names on the board and said "These are the guys letting us down."

Rightly or wrongly not sure how well that would go over in any dressing room.

Bruce said...

This year Doug Wilson re-signed Carle for four years, $12.75 MM, and Michalek for six years, $26 MM. Both are 22. Vlasic (20) still has a year to run on his entry-level contract, but will be due for a big raise himself in due course. If Ron Wilson really called those guys out (as I also read somewhere else a number of days ago), I don't know how he can retain the confidence of the organization going forward. That is just bad coaching on any number of levels.

I hope he does get fired, I have hated (Ron) Wilson since long before the 1996 World Cup. He's a flippant, mouthy asshole.