Thursday, April 30, 2009

Same old fish stories in San Jose

"Their goalie was better than ours. Their defense was better, and their forwards were better. We had a great regular season and a disappointing playoff, and for that, you have to give them credit."-- The San Jose Sharks Dan Boyle nicely summarizes the first round series between the Ducks and Sharks

Hockey Pool fans really should know better, each year as the playoffs begin the names stay the same and the results it seems do to, as the team that showcases some of the best in offence in the regular season stumbles through the first round of the playoffs and on to an early exit.

The Sharks, the team that can sink a hockey pool participant in less than two weeks once again did their annual disappearing act, surrendering their run for the Stanley Cup in the first round as always, this time to their downstate rivals the Anaheim Ducks.

Anaheim which just barely squeaked into the playoffs this year, looked more like the Stanley Cup champs of a few years ago and by far the more aggressive of the two teams, with a new goaltender to mark down for reference as the key to success. Jonas Hillier made his playoff debut in grand style, frustrating the normally explosive offense of San Jose and holding off any thoughts of moving beyond the first round.

It was a hard hitting and occassionally violent series, with the Ducks seeming to hold true to the adage of Conn Smythe to beat them in the alleys, though they also found ways to beat the Sharks on the ice as well. The Ducks were more than ready for their chance to once again deny the Sharks their planned destiny, from the opening moments of game six with Joe Thornton taking out his frustrations on Ryan Getzlaf, the Ducks knew that by getting the Sharks off their game was key.

And while Getzlaf may have lost that opening bout on most score cards, it was the score at the end of the game that most will remember, especially in San Jose where these early round exits are becoming the norm.

There were changes in the off season behind the bench in San Jose, a move that showed some positives during the year but judging by the results of the post season they may not have been enough.

There may yet be more change to come in Northern California, whether in upper management or a little closer to the ice for those that sat on that bench this year and watched as another playoff run was derailed before it could even get underway.

As for the Ducks the job never gets easy when you're the number eight seed, the reward for defeating the Sharks is a chance to play the defending Stanley Cup champ Red Wings, making for an interesting clash in styles and intensity of play to come in the second round.

No comments: