Ratto: Sharks lose focus, composure, gag Gm. 5


Ratto: Sharks lose focus, composure, gag Gm. 5

May 8, 2011

Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

The Sharks struggled with first periods and did pretty well this spring. They put up a good one Sunday, and theyre going back to Detroit anyway.

The reason: A brutal last 23 minutes, in which they blew two two-goal leads, were caught and eventually passed by the Detroit Red Wings, 4-3.

This sets up Game 6 in Detroit Tuesday night, and the Sharks are now starting to feel the hot breath of the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers on their necks -- the Flyers being the team that came back from 3-0 down a year and eventually reached the Stanley Cup finals.

These Sharks are nowhere near there yet, and having given Detroit new life twice now, are no longer in a position to take advancement from this round for granted. Nor to feel all that joyous if they do.

RELATED: Game 5 notes: Bad wrist can't slow Datsyuk

Goals by Jonathan Ericsson, Dan Cleary and Tomas Holmstrom in a 10-minute period midway through the third period were the weapons by which the Wings came back from the seemingly dead, but the real culprit was San Jose itself, failing yet again to play a full game and being well and properly punished for it.

I thought we showed poise and composure, head coach Todd McLellan said, clearly assuming that the divergent views of others would be sufficiently damning to get the true point across. We made some mistakes, got caught out there a little too long on that last goal, but I think the players sent the message to each other that if we play like that Tuesday, well have a good chance to win.

We beg to differ.

What Game 4 showed and what Game 5 stamped in iron was that San Jose has not learned how to start and finish the same way, and that when confronted by good fortune or momentum they are as likely to return it like it was corked wine, if not throw it up entirely.

And because there is now Game 6 awaiting them, there is nobody who can feel confident in the prospect of there not being a Game 7.

San Jose controlled most of the play most of the time, but never enough to enjoy the two two-goal leads they had built through Joe Pavelski at 15:32 of the second or Logan Couture 54 seconds into the third.

First, defenseman Niklas Kronwall beat Antti Niemi with a wrister from a right-side angle to put Detroit within a goal at 2-1 -- 53 seconds after the Pavelski goal. Then Ericsson, another non-offensive force, scored from up close 2:49 after Coutures score, putting a seemingly safe game back in doubt.

REISS: Roenick's shot at Marleau over the line

Then it all collapsed, first behind a Cleary goal scored because he wrapped the puck around the right side of the goal and jammed in a seemingly sealed rebound at 5:29 to tie the game, and then Pavel Datsyuk picked Patrick Marleau along the left wall en route to a slapshot from the high slot by Nicklas Lidstrom that Holmstrom deflected home at13:52.

Three goals in 10 minutes, on the road, with Datsyuk playing with one hand because of a wrist injury and being unable to take any draws, and wing Johan Franzen sitting for the last 14 minutes because of a bad ankle. Thats after scoring three goals in 11 minutes to start Game 4, with elimination staring the Wings in the face.

That shows how hard the Red Wings are to kill, and how hard it is for the Sharks to be that instrument. Five one-goal games tell a story. Not playing a full 60 minutes tells a different one. The one the Sharks need to heed is the second of the two.

Whether they can do that is always a matter of conjecture with this team. Los Angeles should have been an easier dispatch than it was, and a 3-0 lead even over a team like Detroit should also be so.

Instead, they have drawn out this series by failing to start fast enough in one game, close well enough in the other, and to miss another four power plays to drop to a preposterous 2 for 26 at home in that category on the postseason.

Game 6 will be on the road, if that helps at all. And barring a return to the form that got the Sharks here to begin with, dont bet there wont be a Game 7, either. In a very very tense building.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for 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."