Ratto: Ferriero caps Sharks' best playoff game in years


Ratto: Ferriero caps Sharks' best playoff game in years

April 29, 2011


Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

SAN JOSE -- Benn Ferriero. Of course Benn Ferriero. Why the hell not Benn Ferriero?

I mean, Friday was his birthday. Hed never played in a Stanley Cup playoff game before. He had been on the ice for 4:38 of the entire game. Hed taken one shot, on his only shift of the third period. Hed been, well, a fourth-line wing on a three-line team, and happy just to hear coach Todd McLellan say, Be ready.

Until the solar system parted and he threw a what-the-hell shot at something that looked like the Detroit Red Wings' net. And his shot, which looked like it was heading for the crowd net, hit defenseman (and former Shark) Brad Stuarts stick high on the shaft, rocketed down and skipped between goalie Jimmy Howards pads for the overtime winner in San Joses 2-1 victory in Game 1 of this Western Conference semifinal.

It was so planned, so well-constructed, that Ferriero wore this grin throughout his interviews that said, What a lucky boy am I?

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That was pretty much it, he said after San Jose's best playoff game in years. Cooch (Logan Couture) and (Detroits Justin) Abdelkader fought along the wall for it, Cooch got it to me, I just turned and threw it at the net, and it hit a stick or skate or something and it just went in.

RECAP: Sharks steal Game 1 on Ferriero's OT goal

In other words, your standard playoff overtime goal -- a sloppy, goofy, happy mess for a kid who was considered an afterthought in Phoenix and was biding his time in the Sharks system up until the moment when McLellan got his inspiration.

He told me about 30 seconds before to get ready to go on, Ferriero said of McLellan. Thats my job, to stay ready for when Im called upon.

Inspiration? More like a shot in the dark.

Oh, Im no genius, he said of his decision to insert Ferriero on the fourth line with Scott Nichol and Ben Eager. He just brought some things to the table that I thought we needed, is all. Wed had some guys who were out there (on an extended power play) pretty long, and I thought we were getting to the point where we were going to go to some of our other guys.

Yeah. Overtime. Legs getting wonky. Five minutes and the winning goal. Thats pretty specific duty for a guy who under normal circumstances would be at a bar toasting his own 24th birthday.

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The goal ended a sensational game, one dominated by the Sharks with presence and persistence, but dominated even more by the spectacular work of Howard, the Detroit goalie who was blamed by many for the Wings exit from the playoffs last year at the hands of the Sharks. Howard was nicked for only a Joe Pavelski open-aired swat at 10:22 of the third period of the 45 shots he saw before Ferrieros, and was as good as Los Angeles Jonathan Quick had been in the Sharks first series.

But the game truly turned in the overtime, in a four-and-a-half minute swing that nearly blew up on the Sharks.

It began when defenseman Niclas Wallin blocked Abdelkaders shot on a 4-on-1 rush toward San Jose goalie Antti Niemi, and as the two headed to chase the puck in the corner, Abdelkaders stick caught Wallin somewhere in the beard, he laughed.

Wallins beard bleeds, then, because Abdelkader went off on a double-minor for high-sticking, and though the power play did not go well for San Jose (three shots, none of them truly worrisome and nine clears), it did not take them long to re-establish the Detroit zone as base camp.

Thats where Couture came in battling Abdelkader for a puck along the wall to Howards right.

I just sort of got body position on him, and got in on his stick and knocked the puck to Benny, Couture said. That was about it.

Ferriero collected the puck, took a stride and leaned into a left turn and then did the one thing that makes the most sense in such chaos. He threw a shot at the net from the top of the faceoff circle.
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They tell you that when youre a little guy, shoot and see what happens, defenseman Dan Boyle said. Thats what he did.

And it was an OK enough shot, just nothing great, until it clipped Stuarts stick. It also looked like it might have caught fellow defenseman Niklas Kronwall, but all he did was help obscure Howards view from the puck that changed directions so radically.

When the puck went in, at 7:03, Stuart hurled his stick with one hand into the netting behind the glass in disgust. The Sharks exploded with glee at their fourth overtime win. And McLellan breathed a sigh of relief.

They did such a good job killing the penalty, and maybe if Bennie shot doesnt go in, now theyve got momentum, he said, ever the worrying type. We would have had to regroup, settle ourselves, because you dont convert on something like that, you sometimes tend to droop a little.

There was no droopage, though. Benn Ferriero had been kissed on the head by whatever deity was handling hockey this weekend, and got his goal, on his second shot, in his sixth minute of playoff hockey of his first playoff game.

You cant make it up. Well, you could. You just wouldnt ever be able to sell the screenplay to anyone who doesnt have his office in the trunk of his car, is all. But be sure to give it a snappy title.

Like, "Why The Hell Not Benn Ferriero?" Fits on a poster quite nicely.

Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal


Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal

In what can be considered your standard bolt out of the blue, California head football coach Sonny Dykes has reportedly been fired.

In what can be considered your standard spur-of-the-Internet-moment-connect-the-dots inspiration, the Internet went immediately to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal rumors.

The logic, of course, is impeccable. Dykes never really snapped the Cal program around, taking a bad program and making it, well, mediocre, and he has spent much of the past two years aggressively seeking out other jobs, so one can assume there was at least some trouble in paradise, even if you want to make the case that Cal football and paradise are somehow connected.

And Kelly just got canned by the 49ers as part of Jed York’s latest I-will-not-be-made-to-look-ridiculous twitch, so he could sign a properly modest contract at Berkeley and still get his full $6 million with the offset from the three years left on his Jed deal.

So it makes perfect sense . . . which is why it should be judged with considerable skepticism.

For one, Kelly can almost surely do better in the college job diaspora. Cal is a big name with modest ambitions due in part to constant budget constraints, and there are better jobs out there even if he sits for a year.

For two, Cal and Kelly are an odd fit, given the persistent tensions between academia and athletica at Berkeley.

For three, the job comes with massive roadblocks, including Stanford, USC, Washington and (potentially) a resuscitation of the Oregon he left behind. Success will not come easy, if it does at all.

For four, Cal just finished four years of gimmick offense and overburdened defense, and Kelly would provide a more successful version of the same.

And for five, this is too easy, too simple, too convenient. Something about this scenario must be wrong somewhere. When people hit the Internet with photoshopped Kelly-in-Cal-costumes within minutes of the Dykes announcement, you know this is too obvious to actually come to fruition.

Why? Because we don’t live that well, that’s why.

The beauty of a triumphant Kelly at Cal glowering down at the charred ruin in Santa Clara seems more appealing than it actually is, because try as they might, Cal fans will never be backing the more popular horse here, and Kelly won’t win that battle unless he takes Cal to the Rose Bowl while the 49ers are still grappling over draft positions.

In that way, reality sucks. The idea that Jed York could be mocked in collegial absentia by his two biggest coaching hires is delicious but almost surely illusory.

But until we get more on why Dykes got canned 43 days after the team’s last game – recruiting, academic issues, legal issues, photocopier problems from him sending his resume out so often – all we have is the Chip Kelly rumor-ette to keep us intrigued.

Okay, to keep us amused.

Okay, to keep us from falling over in a coma. Cal should matter more than it does, but it’s been 13 years since the Holiday Bowl zenith of the Jeff Tedford Era, and 25 since Bruce Snyder took the Ursines to the Citrus Bowl. The evidence since 1990 is of a team with bigger dreams than means that is slightly below .500 (160-164). Sonny Dykes leaving means one more coach who didn’t make an impact unless his departure leads to either reassessment of the program’s standards, internal or external sanctions . . .

. . . or what the hell, Chip Kelly. Let’s face it – in these dismal days for wacked-out rumormongering, this is pretty intoxicating stuff.

Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports


Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports

The Philadelphia/San Francisco/Golden State Warriors have always had a casual attitude about their home court, even by the once-flexible standards of the National Basketball Association.

Thus, it should be only slightly amusing but not actually surprising that Warriors chief arenologist Rick Welts is now waffling a bit (courtesy Comrade Poole) on whether the team will change its name to San Francisco Warriors when it moves across the pond in 2019-20, or retain its current geographic association with Narnia.

I mean Golden State. I often confuse utterly fictional locales – when I can be bothered to give a toss either way.

But the Warriors, whether they play in Oakland, San Francisco, Pier 30, Pier 32, Westeros, Hobbiton, the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, Curryvania, the Klingon Empire, the Death Star or Planet Nine, are relocating, and once they break the seal on the earth in 12 days, Welts and his fellow elves will almost surely play the team’s future name as a mildly tedious cliffhanger.

Hey, fun is where you find it.

The matter of the team’s relocation will be a sore subject among lifelong East Bay residents, who have put up with the Warriors for 45 years in various stages of development, including the current “We Almost Never Lose” stage. They regard the Warriors’ transplantation to San Francisco to be an unspeakable crime given the high level of fan allegiance afforded them in Oakland.

And yes, they regard Oakland and San Francisco as very real places, as opposed to Golden State, Freedonia, Vulgaria or the Nexus of All Realities.

It is not yet fully known what San Franciscans think of this development, but that’s the nature of the gamble here. They may embrace the Warriors as the new toy in town and then lose interest, and frankly, neither Welts nor anyone else knows the answer to that.

Either way, their die is cast, and Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are now future former Oakland fixtures. Yes, they are quite fond of the exciting new real estate values and their exciting new unobstructed view of the bay, but it has long been assumed that the move would also entail changing the name back to “San Francisco” for the snob appeal.

Now Welts, who has overseen both arena projects (including the one at Piers 30 and 32 which ended up with the piers beating the Warriors in a rout), tells Comrade Poole that the San Francisco Warriors might not end up as the San Francisco Warriors after all.

“Four years ago, I think the conventional wisdom in our building here in Oakland was that yes, we should attach a city name to the team, then it becomes a more global franchise,” Welts marketing-gobbledy-gooked. “There was a lot of head-scratching four years ago about where the Golden State Warriors even played, in other parts of the world. What’s happened with the team over the course of the ensuing years, until today, has made the Warriors if not the preeminent, at least among the three best-known NBA franchises around the world. And everybody who didn’t know where the Golden State Warriors were four years ago, if you’re a fan today, anywhere in the world, you know where the Golden State Warriors are.”

In Oakland.

Now, the mic drop.

“The team’s success has caused us to really rethink whether or not that’s something we should or want to do,” he added. “I guess it’s fair to say there’s been no final decision made. But if you were a betting man, I think you would probably want to wager that the name might remain the same.”

Of course. Why not stay fictional when specificity might move fewer hoodies?

Then again, this is a team that in its 70 years has played home games in Philadelphia (the Arena, the Civic Center, Lincoln High School and Convention Hall), Hershey and Bethlehem PA, Atlantic City, Trenton, Collingswood and Camden NJ, and Saratoga Springs NY . . .

(a moment’s rest here to catch our breaths)

. . . and then after moving west in 1962, the Cow Palace, San Francisco Civic Auditorium and USF’s Memorial Gym, the Oakland Auditorium, San Jose Civic Auditorium, San Jose Arena, Richmond Auditorium, then Sacramento, Bakersfield, Fresno, San Diego, Eugene, Seattle, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

In fact, and you can swindle the gullible at your neighborhood tavern with this one, the Warriors’ first game in San Francisco occurred almost three years before the team left Philadelphia. The Warriors played the visitors to the Minneapolis Lakers, who moved to Los Angeles a year later and had already played a regular season game at the Cow Palace earlier in the year, so this game, January 31, 1960, could have been considered a civic scouting trip for both teams as they sought new homes.

In other words, the Warriors are almost surely the most geographically vague team in the history of North American sports. Moreover, they are about to become the first team in sports history to go home for the third time under three different city names – Philadelphia, San Francisco and Krypton, or whatever the hell they want to call themselves this time.