Ratto: Sharks can't capitalize on comeback


Ratto: Sharks can't capitalize on comeback



DETROIT -- So the right team won Friday, at least in terms of who did more to deserve it. That was Detroit, 4-3. If that does not fit with your definition of Fridays Sharks-Red Wings game, then with all due respect, your definition is wrong.We can say we lost the game in the first 17, 18 minutes, defenseman Dan Boyle said after Darren Helm saved Detroit 87 seconds from overtime with an open-net game-winner after a prolonged flurry. We were a little sloppy defensively, they got too many chances. We showed character and heart and all that by coming back, but we still lost, and we have to go back.Indeed, San Jose inspired itself and its customer base by getting up from a self-induced coma, with goals from Logan Couture, Boyle and Dany Heatley, but the three it surrendered before that, and Helms glorified tap-in at 18:33 of the third forced this series back to Le Pavillon du HP Sunday.And made a prophet, and a near liar, out of Todd McLellan, who said after the Sharks rallied from 4-0 down to beat Los Angeles in the first series that the Sharks would get no more mulligans. They nearly did, in fact, but the end result was what it should have been.
RECAP: Red Wings win Game 4 late, stay alive vs. SharksI like the fact that we were resilient when we werent playing very well, so thats a positive well take from the game, he said, opening with the up before bringing the down. We found a way to claw back into it, but again, early in the game and even throughout the second period we didnt have very good legs tonight. It was hard to find six or seven guys who were really skating well, and Detroit did. They won a lot of loose pucks, they established body position over loose pucks, and they did a better job of it than we did. They deserve full marks for their win.They were the better team.Period. No complaining about a penalty discrepancy, or the bad luck that accompanies late-game scrambles, or even the odd goals Detroit got to establish their lead. Detroit was better, and that was that.They get a goal on a spinarama, Boyle said, describing Todd Bertuzzis opening score at 6:22 of the first, and one that a guy bats out of the air (Nicklas Lidstroms second, which he actually one-hopped into the net at 18:01), so theres some bad luck, but you have to live with those. Thats the game.For the most part, though, the Red Wings created their breaks by winning the battles to which McLellan referred. The best San Jose can say of this game is that it wasnt the 7-1 piano-wiring of a year ago, which frankly is a generous interpretation.The Wings have now improved their play in each game from a fairly low threshold in Game 1, and have found the gaps in the Sharks game.But the Sharks also found some inner reserve that prevented the 7-1 thrashing this might have been. Couture scored on a tip-in of a Ryane Clowe drive 15 seconds after the Lindstrom grounder, Boyle pinched and took a sweet pass from redoubtable Kyle Wellwood at 13:44 of the second to find an open net and make it 3-2, and Heatley took a pass from Clowe at 1:14 of the third to tie the game and turn a loud Joe Louis Arena crowd into a grumbly, fingers-up-to-the-man crowd.That, though, changed as the Wings put together a strong final five minutes, including the final flurry, which actually began with three minutes to play. The Wings gained the zone, and in order of appearance, they: Got a dangerous shot from Johan Franzen that went wide.
Got a similar one from Valteri Filppula that also missed the net.
Got slap shots from Dan Cleary and Niklas Kronwall which Antti Niemi parried.
Got a dangerous looking wrap-around from Bertuzzi that Niemi repelled and froze.
Lost a faceoff but regained possession quickly and got a slapshot from Brian Rafalski that led to a frantic clot of arms and legs to Niemis left.
Patrick Eaves got a swipe at the puck at one point, and eventually the puck dribbled right to Helm, who had nothing but time and will.
I saw the first few shots, then I lost the puck for awhile, couldnt see it, Niemi said. Then when I saw it again, it was on the other side (where Helm finished) and I couldnt get over.It was the last of the 40 shots Niemi saw, on a night when he allowed goals on three of the first 17 but was brilliant until helplessly stranded on the game-winner. He too, though, knew how the ship went down Friday night.We have to be hard from the start, Niemi lamented after a mediocre game became a great game. Thats the key.Indeed, it was the key Friday night. A proud team decided it was not yet a good day to die. They still have to decide that three more times, of course, and the Sharks have much to say in the interim. But for one night, the Red Wings showed why beating them is such a big deal.Because it comes at such a cost in effort and stress. Ray Ratto is a columnist with CSNBayArea.com.

Patriots win one for the ages, but where does it rank?

Patriots win one for the ages, but where does it rank?

The price of watching Roger Goodell being booed back to the Bronze Age is a subtle but real one, and one that people will feel very dearly soon enough.

The last great cathartic Super Bowl is now done, with the New England Patriots winning the brilliant and decisive battle to be sports’ new evil empire. In doing so, it rendered Goodell a permanent and risible punch line in National Football League history, the mall cop who wanted the death penalty for littering, and in the words of the song “got what he wanted but he lost what he had.”

True, $40 million a year can make the dissolution of your public persona a reasonably decent tradeoff, but we lost the argument about who won his windmill tilt with the Patriots. It’s done, and he is now permanently and irrevocably a figure of ridicule.

But that’s not the only debating point America lost Sunday night, and while you wouldn’t think it given how much time we are willing to shouting at each other, quality arguments are not easily replaced.

We have almost surely lost the mindless debate about the best quarterback ever, because there is nothing anyone can bring up that the words “Tom Brady” cannot rebut except calling his own plays, and since that is no longer allowed in football, it is a silly asterisk to apply.

We have almost surely lost the equally silly shouter about the best coach ever. Bill Belichick is defiantly not fun, but he has built, improved and bronzed an organizational model that is slowly swallowing the rest of the sport. That and five trophies makes him the equal if not better of the short list of Paul Brown, George Halas, Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh and Tom Landry.

Plus, Belichick locked up the most absurd response to a question in coaching history Monday when he said, “As great as today feels . . . we're five weeks behind the other teams for the 2017 season.” Even allowing for Gregg Popovich in-game interviews, the so-grim-he-could-make-a-robot-cry worship-the-process response has now become a cliché. If 2017 prep was so important, he should have skipped yesterday’s game, and he definitely should have chosen not to waste so much time on the trophy stand after the game when training camp drills needed to be scheduled.

Oh, and DeflateGate died. Dead. No zombie possibilities here.

We do have a meatheaded argument ahead of us about which championship in the last year is the best, which can be settled here.

1. Leicester City, because 5,000-1 is 5,000-1, and the whole world understands that. Plus, there was invaluable three-month buildup that engaged non-soccer fans.

2. Chicago Cubs, because 108 years is 108 years.

3. New England Patriots, because . . . well, I don’t have to explain it unless you have no useful memory span. “Down 25 In The Third Quarter” is the new “Down 3-1.”

4. Cleveland Cavaliers, because they slayed the first unbeatable Warrior team by coming from 3-1 down, and even as a silver medalist, it will always be an internet meme, which is what passes for memorable in our decrepit culture.

5. (tie) Villanova basketball and Clemson football in a tie, because they were essentially the same great game.

7. The Pittsburgh Penguins, because the Stanley Cup Final was devoid of drama or high moments, and only 14:53 of overtime. Feh.

But everything else is settled, and this Super Bowl will not be topped for a long time. Our current cycle of absurd championships is almost surely going to end soon, because “Down 3-1” has happened twice in eight months (three times, if you count Warriors over Thunder), and the bar has now been placed well beyond reasonable clearing.

Indeed, the only thing left is for a championship team to spontaneously combust on the award stand. But if they do so and ignite Roger Goodell along the way, that would be an ending America would cheerfully endorse.

But that also isn’t an argument any more, and yes, that includes Gary Bettman.

Raiders, 49ers can return to their normal madness after Fried Festivus 51

Raiders, 49ers can return to their normal madness after Fried Festivus 51

The Super Bowl is today, which means the best day of the year is fast approaching.

Namely, the day after the Super Bowl.

At that point, we as a nation can complete the inventory of gastric damage we did to ourselves on what shall be known to future generations as Fried Festivus.

At that point, the people who bombard us daily with news of the game – the least important part of the week-long trade show, as we have come to learn it – will all be on planes and too tired to re-explain what we already saw 37 times on game day.

At that point, nobody will care that Terrell Owens was apparently one of the first of the 15 Hall of Fame finalists to be rejected for induction because of crimes against the NFL state. The Hall of Fame is one of the sneaky ways in which the NFL never lets us escape its obnoxiously shouty profile, and the fact that Owens is right about the flawed process doesn’t change the fact that he’ll be just fine with the process when it allows him passage.

At that point, we’ll know whether Tom Brady is to be deemed a god, or merely maintain his demigod status. At least we’ll hear more about it, because it is easily the most tiresome debate in the football diaspora, engaged in by idiots with no better idea about how to kill time. A note: If you think Tom Brady is a greater quarterback because his team won a fifth ring, or a lesser one because he didn’t, your head is now officially empty enough to be reclassified a dance hall, and you are of no more value to normal society than a papier-mache goose.

And at that point, we can return to the two things we in these parts care to know – where the Raiders are going, and how the 49ers are going to present their new football brain trust.

We needn’t explain the Raiders again to you, first because you’ve heard it all if you’re paying any attention at all. Mark Davis has been trying to cobble deals at a frantic pace in hopes that one will stick, and his 31 fellow owners still have to decide how much longer they want to endure him, while faced with the painful fact that the East Bay is getting out of the exploitative license-to-be-stolen-from stadium business. They also get to know as they go to the meeting in Houston that will ostensibly decide Davis’ fate that they have ruined California as a market by their excessive greed-laced stupidity and deserve every lousy market the state can give them.

Which brings us to the 49ers, and the latest round of Judge Them By Their Press Conferences.

If there is anything worse than this team’s on-field profile, which is why Jed York hired Kyle Shanahan, it is the way it explains itself to the outside world, which is why Jed York hired John Lynch. Both Shanahan and Lynch will be paraded before a braying mobs, probably Tuesday, and York will be there as well for the cheesy photo array and a few unconvincing words of praise about each of them (as a note, Paraag Marathe will be present but only in hologrammatic form).

They will then promise – well, something or other – and Lynch will be hailed as the face of the glorious future because the man he replaced, Trent Baalke, had the public persona of a meth-tweaked hyena. Hard to find, and not worth it when you did.

Then we’ll all remember that the job Shanalynch (or Lynchahan, depending on what part of Ireland you’re from) are being asked to do is a three-year reclamation at the very least, and that the only useful question either can be asked is “Can you fix this before Jed gets embarrassed and angry and cans you both?”

And on Wednesday, there’s the start of pre-draft prep (in order words, The Eighty-Day Slave Market), and the hamster wheel to hell gears up again toward Super Bowl LII.

Only next year, the chances of relocation hysteria and a front office upheaval are that much less, and we haven’t sufficient distractions to make the year go faster.

But enjoy Fried Festivus. We can always look forward to that, even if we change the name back in December to the more traditional "Christmas."