Umm, I went to Game 4 with Lira and it was amazing! The Preds totally lost their confidence towards the end of the second period. You could see it so clearly. They were passing into legs/skates, guys were hesitating when they should have been taking shots on net, and the rest of the time, the Sharks were forechecking hard. They seemed broken. The Sharks were playing so hard, so good. And in the first period Nabby made the big saves that a playoff goalie needs to make.
Everyone was playing hard and everyone was contributing, and it was the same thing in Game 5. Media people were all talking about how Nashville had improved since last season, but the Sharks improved so much more than they did. It's not just a matter of personnel changes, it's also the little babies we had who have grown up. *cries*
There is Cheechoo spammage!
Cheechoo's dad skips the hunt to chase Sharks
Makes trip to San Jose; 'If it wasn't for my son, i'd be out hunting'
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
SAN JOSE, CALIF. - As the father of an established National Hockey League star, Mervin Cheechoo appeared to hold a unique designation in the mixed zone where friends and family waited for the San Jose Sharks after another crucial playoff victory. He was at once a visiting dignitary and a foreign correspondent.
It seemed like everyone wanted to shake his hand and share a word while he waited for his son, Jonathan, to emerge from the triumphant dressing room. Sharks centre Joe Thornton made a special point of stopping by on his way out the door to smile and say, "That works, eh?"
Cheechoo smiled back. His cellular phone was also working, and it had kept him busy fielding questions from a remote region thousands of kilometres to the northeast, where friends and family relied on him to distribute news about his son, the pride of Moose Factory, Ont.
"Moose Factory is basically decked out in San Jose colours," he said smiling. "It's hunting season back home, so people have taken their generators and satellite dishes out to their camps, watching games when they should be sleeping, getting ready for the next day's hunt. Seriously."
Preparations for the next day's hunt in the wilderness around James Bay would have begun at around 5 a.m., barely four hours after the Sharks dispatched the Nashville Predators in Game 3 of their Western Conference quarter- final series. It was goose and duck hunting season, but very few would pass up the chance to watch Jonathan Cheechoo in the playoffs.
What they saw was an injured winger working his way back to health. Cheechoo had sprained his right knee on a questionable hit from Nashville forward Scott Hartnell in Game 1, but the 26- year-old looked like he was back up to speed on Monday night, narrowly missing on a handful of shots.
Better still, San Jose's 3-1 win gave the Sharks a 2-1 series lead heading into Game 4 at home tonight. If Cheechoo's knee continues to improve, the Predators could be in more trouble than they are already.
"He'll be even more determined [tonight] because he was involved in so many nearmisses," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "He can break out and score goals in bunches, so that's the least of my worries."
Cheechoo won the Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL's leading goal-scorer in the 2005- 06 season with a 56-goal outburst that doubled his previous career best. Injuries hampered his defence of the title this year and have held him to one assist through the opening three games of the post-season.
" On certain days it feels better and certain days it feels worse," Cheechoo said of his knee. "For the most part, it's fine. I don't really think about it out there, and that's the way I'm going to play. That's the way I have to play. You hurt it more if you don't."
His father will be on hand to watch him play at the HP Pavilion again tonight before returning home tomorrow to Sudbury, Ont. Mervin Cheechoo is a minister at the Sudbury First Nations Church, and does other work as a counsellor.
He is also at least a little envious of those who have been able to take advantage of the hunting season.
"If it wasn't for my son, I'd be out hunting, too," he said. "It's usually a top priority at this time of the year. But with Jonathan and my other son in the playoffs, they're my priority, too. For me, hunting takes a second seat."
Jordan Cheechoo, Jonathan's 18-year-old brother, was a member of the Sudbury Jr. Wolves team that lost to the Soo Indians in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League championship final last week.
It was that manner of support from his parents that helped Cheechoo ascend to the NHL, and he is quick to give his family credit.
"I wouldn't be here without it," he said yesterday. "They were a huge part of my life growing up, and they're behind me 100%. They always did the little extra to make sure I was comfortable --it was pretty tough being away from home at that young age -- and my dad made a few trips when I was in scoring slumps and stuff like that."
His father is scheduled to fly from San Jose to Denver tomorrow, where he will connect to Toronto and, finally, to Sudbury. He said he'll return to San Jose again during the playoffs, and likely with a larger travelling party.
In the meantime, Mervin Cheechoo will continue taking calls from Northern Ontario, though he has been careful when describing the specific nature of his son's knee injury.
"I just say it like everybody says it: 'lower body injury,' " he said with a laugh. "I've been trained well."