Ratto: Setoguchi helps Sharks cheat the reaper


Ratto: Setoguchi helps Sharks cheat the reaper


Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

DETROIT -- Devin Setoguchi and Logan Couture spent a bit of the locker room time before the overtime period of San Joses 4-3 Game 3 win over Detroit bartering potential game-winning celebrations with each other.

Setoguchi won.

Well, if you really want to know, I looked over at Logan Couture and I said, 'You better get (the game-winning goal) before I do, because I've already got my celebration ready to go. Setoguchi said after beating Jimmy Howard for the third time, 9:21 into overtime.

And he said, 'So do I.' And I said, 'Well, I'm going to go pull the (Cristiano) Ronaldo double-knee.' And he said, 'That was mine.' So I said, 'Well, I'll try to beat you to it then.' So it was kind of weird that it happened that way.

But thats planning for you.

Right before we went on the ice, about four minutes before the overtime started. He said I stole his celebration.

Coutures lawyers will be in touch. So will a lot of other Sharks and their supporters who will acknowledge that Setoguchi poached his team through a game in which they werent really the better team the majority of the time.

Nobody remembers the celebration though, not even Ronaldo himself, if that helps. Setoguchi was kissed by God on this night, to the point where he could simply come on the ice and head for a soft spot on the Red Wings defensive coverage and have the puck magically appear on his tape.

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Which is exactly how he scored the game-winner and put the Sharks within a game of sweeping the Red Wings and within three games of scaring themselves half to death. He found an open place, Joe Thornton, who had done the heavy work carrying and chipping and retrieving the puck through all three zones, found him, and he beat the Detroit goalie low and clean.

I saw Jumbo curl up the wall. Usually when he does that, he always looks to the middle for the quick pop play and for the shot, and I got it. (Wing center Henrik) Zetterberg was in the slot, just kind of right there, so I just tried to get it through his legs or by him quickly, and snuck one right past him (Howard).

I dont know why it happens that way sometimes, he said. Sometimes you work and work and things just sort of happen for you.

Also to you, for Setoguchi also committed two harrowing holding penalties, one which led to Pavel Datsyuks go-ahead goal in the third period, and the other, in overtime, which almost buried the Sharks.

Yeah, Ill talk to him about that, said a clearly torn head coach Todd McLellan.

But he will remember to thank Setoguchi as well for helping the Sharks cheat the reaper on a night that was more Detroits than San Joses.

A year to the day of last years overtime victory that put the Sharks up 3-0 on the Wings, San Jose endured an up-and-down evening which, without Antti Niemis best game as the Sharks goalie, might have gotten them chased from the building.

Detroit controlled the first and large chunks of the first two periods, getting goals from Nicklas Lidstrom, Patrick Eaves and Datsyuk to tie the game at 1 and take 2-1 and 3-2 leads. In fact, McLellan was more unhappy with the play than the result, a lot more unhappy.

(Game 4) will be as hard on us as we make it. We didnt have a lot of polish, we didnt have enough better players in my opinion to play. We got away with one. We have to be better, because theyve proven they are not going to go away.

Of course, McLellan is also seeing Game 4 a year ago, in which the Sharks smugged their way through a 7-1 defeat that cost them a fifth game, one that this year is not really recommended, given the parity and trouble teams have had finishing series -- Tampa Bay notwithstanding.

Then again, he may also take time to notice that Thornton has been instrumental in four of the five overtime winners the Sharks have logged so far in this postseason. The NHL has had 20 overtime games so far, the second round isnt done yet, and the record is 28. San Jose has 25 percent of those wins, and zero percent of those losses. The persistent complaint that Thornton doesnt come up big in the spring has been de-legged, at least insofar as this truth: Thornton may not come up big, but he does come up subtle.

Setoguchi, on the other hand, is flash on flash. At least he was this night. If he can steal from Logan Couture and Cristiano Ronaldo on the same evening, the two holding penalties seem like barely a trifle.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

NFL disregards domestic violence, as Giants extend its tolerance scale


NFL disregards domestic violence, as Giants extend its tolerance scale

The National Football League has been reminded yet again that it neither understands nor cares to understand about domestic violence.

But it will do better, you may rest assured. They’ll have a week where all the on-field personnel wear purple to commemorate the bruises.

That’s what the NFL does when it can no longer ignore its own tone-deafness – they turn their stupidity into a marketing opportunity. After all, every social problem can be solved in the league’s eyes by figuring out a way for the league to monetize it.

The latest example of the NFL’s slack-jawed world view comes from New York, where the Giants could not and still cannot figure out what to do about kicker/serial domestic abuser Josh Brown except not let him go to London for the weekend.

This means the league has learned nothing from the Ray Rice incident, even as Rice of all people is showing on a regular basis how to learn from it. More than that, it means it has no interest in learning anything about it, and will never prioritize it beyond crisis-management level – “Uh-oh, something bad just happened. Quick, put it behind us.”

Then again, the league has been so relentlessly ham-handed on so many things that, as convenient as this may be for it, we should stop expecting it to do so, to the point that when someone from the league wants to explain some social issue to us we should simply say with one voice, “Oh, shut up, you yammering frauds.”

It is difficult to prioritize the number of ways the Giants failed to comprehend the problem currently smacking them between the numbers, although owner John Mara’s “He admitted to us he'd abused his wife in the past. What’s a little unclear is the extent of that” may summarize it nicely.

Put another way, one could make a case that the Giants extended the universal talent-tolerance scale (if you have the talent, anything can be tolerated until it can’t) to include placekickers.

That seems less likely, though, than the more obvious point that the league doesn’t regard domestic violence as something worth concerning itself with, while bloviating all the time about all the things with which it is concerned. The league is the beat cop who never gets out of his car to see what is happening on his beat, and is shocked when something does.

And while it will be handy to pile this atop the list of reasons why Commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t get it, the truth is he is merely the painful rash that reveals the league’s case of shingles. The league’s 32 constituent elements are culpable here because ignorance in the face of so much evidence becomes willful, and Goodell’s skill is not in guiding the league but in figuring out where his 32 bosses want him to go, and avoiding all the places they don’t.

Hence, domestic violence. This is not an easy problem to solve, as any expert will say, but Mara trying to decide how many punches are enough isn’t it. The league’s six-game suspension guideline that is now four years old has never been imposed on any player. It wants the power to use the talent-tolerance scale at whim to do what it wishes when it wishes to do it.

Or in this case, not do anything at all until it has to, and then in as minimal a fashion as it can manage.

So, Josh Brown loses a week in a foreign country on the company dime as a trade-off for continually terrorizing his wife. The league says it punished him for a game but was powerless to do anything else while knowing all along how severe the problem had become.

In short, it did the minimum. Now that everyone knows the fullest extent of Brown’s abuse, and how much the league knew without doing anything, it will now extend the minimum out to what it thinks is a new minimum.

So we now know that the NFL is looking for some metric that will determine the transactional “extent of that,” as John Mara so eloquently put it for us. When it comes up with that formula, it will surely ignore that standard, because the real standard is still “talent-tolerance,” and the world is made up of concentric circles surrounding the people who make the league and its members a dollar more tomorrow than it made today.

And spouses are a long way from the center.

Silent but effective Sharks look to be an under-the-radar power

Silent but effective Sharks look to be an under-the-radar power

The National Hockey League began its 685th season (or whatever the hell it is; the other reason to know is for the yobs who have to authenticate the shoulder patches), and apparently is going to belong to Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid and the new focus on speed and attack and goals.

At least that was the talk after Night One of 179, in which the first three games of the new season featured some mid-‘80s level run-and-run play. The Ottawa-Toronto game gave us Matthews’ first four NHL goals in a game his Torontos lost, 5-4. The Edmonton-Calgary game finished 7-4, with the nonpareil McDavid scoring twice. Even the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks engaged in some fun-time up-and-down play in a 5-2 St. Louis victory.

But here, we get cold, hard sanity – the discipline and territorial integrity that is the hallmark of the new-ish and ever-so-slightly improved San Jose Sharks. They opened their defense of the Not-Quite-Stanley Cup with a very grind-y 2-1 win over the allegedly declining but still obstinate Los Angeles Kings.

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Guess which game won’t be talked about come the morning’s national rehashes. And guess who won’t give a farthing’s worth of damn.

Matthews and McDavid will of course dominate – Matthews, because he is a Toronto Maple Leafs and all things Leaf trump all things anything else in this still-defiantly Canadian league, and McDavid, because he helped usher in the brand new civic boondoggle . . . err, arena in Edmonton with two goals and the quote of the night.

“I don't think I touched the puck four times in my first game,” McDavid said, telling what is clearly a monumental whopper because he knows a good story when it is thrust upon him.

That will get run.

The Sharks, on the other hand, have resumed their plan running silent and running deep. Despite having the territorial and chance edges, the Skating Selachimorpha needed to stay true to their truth, which is that 11-goal games are not to their advantage, and that the sum of the whole must exceed its parts.

That’s how they got to hang a new banner from the rafters of The Old Grey Girl on Santa Clara Street – by keeping their heads when all about them are scoring theirs off.

Then again, the Sharks have older legs in key positions, greater expectations than Get The Puck To The Young’uns and Try Not To Finish 13th, and a coach in Peter (Chuckles) DeBoer who has the pressure of taking last year’s stealth success and finish the job the Pittsburgh Penguins prevented them from doing a year ago.

In short, the Sharks are likely to be just as under-the-radar this year as they were last, and assuming health and focus, they are still one of the two or three best teams in the Western Conference.

It’s just that they can’t run hither and yon chasing whatever puck looks tempting to them. Their first duty is to maintain defensive integrity, which they did with fervor and purpose Wednesday night, and their second is to see to it that goaltender Martin Jones is not oppressively treated by the opponent (San Jose outshot Los Angeles 31-22, and totally outshot the Kings, 73-58).

There was, in short, relatively little to make anyone wax euphoric about this team off one game, and in fairness, Kings coach Darryl Sutter knows how to keep games into the race-to-three stage, which may color the judgment some.

But the Sharks are playing the way they have learned works best for them, and that means gumming up passing (15 takeaways) and shooting lanes (21 blocked shots). They are like the Kings – well, the Kings of a couple of years ago – than they are the newest incarnations of the Oilers or Leafs, and based on history, that shall be considered a good thing.

Of course, the game, she is a’changing, and at some point in the next couple of years the changes that every season brings will become substantive ones, the old core will give way to a new one, and the current orthodoxy that speed is the most important component to happy-happy-win-joy will overtake San Jose.

DeBoer, though, showed against last night that is perfectly comfortable dancing with who brung him, as the kids no longer say, and making the most of what Providence has offered him. And Wednesday, as it did for most of the past year save the lost fortnight in Pennsylvania, that philosophy once again came up trumps.

Well, maybe that’s a saying we should probably forgo for awhile. Let’s just leave it at “Sharks, twice as many as Kings.” That’s a good enough result to get paid off in this league, and until DeBoer is asked for style points, that will more than suffice.