This special piece was written by long time season ticket holder Larry Everson. I want to thank Larry for his piece and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.
One of the reasons I wanted Detroit in the Second Round was because of what we were able to witness at the end of last night’s great game. The Wings shaking hands with the Sharks as victors was just awesome (admittedly this was a wish at the time versus a reality. But I did predict the Sharks would be victorious in 6 games and apologize that it only took 5). So were we witness last night to a changing of the guard in the West? Only time will answer this question and least we forget the Western Conference Finals are still in front of us. But the start of the Western Finals is still days away and we should pause and just enjoy a very special moment in Sharks history.
My first thought at the end of the game was “our stars played like stars” in a big game. With previous teams capable of winning it all I have never been able to say this. And it really feels good. Congratulations to the entire first line starting with the original “just call me Joe”. He was a beast last night. He not only played with passion but with an edge. Joe had an unbelievable monster shift at about the 6 or 7 minute mark when we were trying to protect the one goal lead. His passing, especially in the 3rd was vintage Joe at the top of his game.
Congratulations to Heatly who played a solid game. His quick pinch and steal on Rafalski behind the net got the puck to Joe who sent it to Marleau who sent it straight into the record books. Congratulations to Marleau for surviving my constant sniveling and then appearing out of thin ice to rock the Tank with his second game winning goal in the last 3 games. It was a shot for the ages that only a skill player can make and one that will be long remembered.
And last but not least congratulations to Nabby. Without the need to be spectacular he carried us to the win in a big game with everything on the line. Hopefully he can use these first 2 rounds to further elevate his game because it only gets more difficult from here.
And not to be forgotten are the fans (The Sports Illustrated player poll rated HP Pavilion the toughest building to play in. If you missed it, this week’s Sports Illustrated NHL poll showed that 19 percent of the 272 players asked picked HP Pavilion as the toughest road building. Other arenas finishing in the top five were Canadiens’ Bell Centre (14%), the Blackhawks’ United Center (13%), the Flyers’ Wachovia Center (12%) and the Red Wings’ Joe Louis Arena (10%).) The fans at the Tank are the best in sports. Television will never capture the crowd noise that rocks this building. But last night even on TV you could not only hear, but feel the constant roar of the crowd. Especially over the last 12 minutes and at the end of the game.
And here are a few more kudos. These go to all of the other players who have gotten us to exactly the halfway point in the battle for Lord Stanley’s Cup. Of special note is certainly the entire 2nd line that until the last couple of games has really been our 1st line in disguise. From the lower reaches of the offensive hierarchy there are many notables or maybe they should be called the visible’ Special recognition to the little guy Scotty Nichol who plays so “big”. And to Manny who along with Heater, and Scotty may have made this team what it is today with signings last summer. And to Mitchell who finally found his 5th gear.
And then last but not least to the D. Thanks to Boyle who leads in every sense of the word. And to Blake who is playing by far and away his best hockey of the season. He plays under immense pressure with an aura of calm and composure. And to Pickles who has upped his game and to Murray who still scares me to death with his sloth like foot movement but who plays with so much heart. And to Demers who is looking less and less like a rookie everyday. And speaking of rookies we should tip the hat to the late arriving Woodchuck. Although he can still resemble a rookie a little too often for comfort
But enough for now as I am starting to feel we have already won the Cup and this is far from the truth. There is a little issue emerging called Chicago that could make all of this warm fuzzy feeling go away. I need a couple of days to sort Chicago out. They represent a much more dangerous foe than Detroit and will be the most difficult team in the NHL for us to beat in a seven game series. I really believe that we will be watching the puck drop between the two best teams in the NHL by the end of this week. It should be an epic battle. More thoughts over the next few days.
Last but not least I have to say I love this game called hockey. The sight of Pavelski skating to the bench and handing his tooth to the trainer and then turning around and skating back out to the face off circle to continue play and then looking into the eyes and the bloodied face of Murray after taking a vicious shoulder shot to the mouth from Brad Stuart. These are enduring images of this physical and demanding game. And the respect that everyone has for the game of hockey and for their opponent could be clearly seen in the handshakes at the end. Especially worthy of note was McLellan being congratulated by his former players.
Written by Larry Everson