April 9, 2011RATTO ARCHIVESHARKS PAGE SHARKS VIDEO
Since nobodys sure quite yet what the NHL means by odd games, here are your Sharks playoff scenarios as you rise this Sunday:Chicago plays Detroit, and Dallas plays Minnesota. If Chicago loses straight up, the Sharks play Los Angeles. If Chicago wins straight up or in overtime, the Sharks play Phoenix. If Chicago loses in overtime or in a shootout, the Sharks play Chicago. And if Chicago wins in a shootout, the Sharks play Nashville.And if Chicago loses straight up and Dallas wins, Chicago isnt in the playoffs at all.We tell you this because you care. We tell you this because our own choice is coming, and it might surprise you. And because an informal poll of Sharks indicates that theyre not going to bother to watch the Blackhawks and Red Wings anyway. Its an off-day, and they dont need to know anything other than nothing.Im gonna watch the Masters, Dany Heatley said. Ive got Rory (McElroy), and hes got some good history (plus a four-stroke lead).Im going to spend time with my wife and kid, Joe Thornton said, Were not going to have many days off after this.In other words, hes going to watch the Masters?Yeah, he laughed.The players understand that they are best served narrowing their focus not to the scenarios but what happens when the road narrows. We have to beat em all anyway to get where we want to go, Thornton said.Hey, they all have different strengths we have to be concerned with, McLellan said. Chicago has the Cup. Theyve been there. Phoenix is a very good system team, very disciplined. L.A. has size and speed. Nashville has a good core, and the goalie (Pekka Rinne).And his own team?I think we can go with anyone strength for strength.Well then, that settles that. Except . . .Except for the one really fun notion, that the Blackhawks beat Detroit in regulation (the Wings might be the most vulnerable team of all given their injuries, and in any event are locked into third with no chance to move). In that case, the Sharks and Coyotes would be the first team in NHL history with an opportunity to play each other nine consecutive times.Think of it. Think of how sick you get of people you like after nine straight days. Now think of how sick youd get of people you dont like for, say, 19 or 20 days, with days off to think about them. You think you wouldnt want to snap now and then?It doesnt really matter, Thornton lied. You get to the point that once youre in, it doesnt matter who you play.But nine times in a row potentially?Its not that different than seven.Well, yes, thats true. But nine just sounds like more of a slog with someone yapping in your ear the whole time. Nine sounds like the kind of thing that would cause Colin Campbells phone in the NHL dean of students office to melt:Colie, it seems that Doug Murray and Paul Bissonette just took their fight into one of the suites at the arena, and . . . oh, Murray just clocked Bissonette with a tray of tri-tip sandwiches and a wine bottle. You may want to get on this.Nine sounds like the hardest thing in the world to do, in a spot where the teams that have the easiest row to hoe in the early rounds is the one with the best chance to go deep.On the other hand, the hockey would be such a glorious grind that it would make most of the other series melt by comparison. With the one exception being Bruins-Canadiens, of course, where the bad blood is perpetual, freshly renewed by the Zdeno Chara-Max Pacioretty incident and not merely a scheduling contrivance.But scheduling contrivances are all we get on the West Coast, and besides, this could be the last time these two teams ever meet in their present guises. The Coyotes may still be shipped off to Winnipeg if the proposed sale of the team cannot clear the barbed-wire legal obstacles (well cover those another day).Anyway, go Blackhawks. If youre a Sharks fan, you can get to them any old time. Same for the Kings or Preds. But Phoenix for three consecutive weeks . . . that may never happen again.