The Invincible M.A.E. (harleymae) wrote,
The Invincible M.A.E.

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Better than the last

Semagic has been sitting open all day, but I haven't written anything until now because it's just... too much!

I went to the game last night, thanks to tersa, but due to a series of unfortunate events, lastcatastrophe couldn't go. :( :( :( I ended up selling the extra ticket to someone on Craigslist making frantic use of my iPhone while on the train there. (The train that was late, ARGH, but we didn't miss any goals). The good thing about doing that was that it kept me too busy to feel nervous until I was actually at the game.

I felt really positive while I was at the game, even through the second period with all of the penalties and apparently not getting a shot for like 15 minutes. The PK looked solid and Nabby was solid and everyone played well but didn't try to do too much. After Patty ♥ scored his goal, the Sharks went into defense mode, but a smart defense mode that included some sustained offensive zone time. Great contributions from Scott Nichol, Malhotra and Torrey + the babies to battle for pucks and work hard to protect the lead. Joe + Patty emerged in this series, as I thought they might.

I was totally in tears at the end of the game. If I hadn't been too busy freaking out, I probably would have seen Nabby's dance of joy. But watching it from the goal cam is pretty awesome. :P

sherlockelly asked for gifs, so I made a couple. :) Big ass gifs under the cut.

I also made one that loops forever and made a tiny version of it for my new Nabby icon. :D

I love how at the end when Nabby was being interviewed, he just stayed silent and looked at the crowd because we were all cheering so loud. Then we started one of the more uncoordinated Nabby chants I've heard in the Tank. :P I love that the three stars were the guys who have taken criticism for past failures. I don't really feel all that different about them now, though. What's made the difference this year has been the third line type guys we shed and the guys who replaced them.

Watched the postgame and had the game on in the background while I was doing other stuff today. Totally missed Pavelski getting his tooth knocked out while I was at the game. I thought it was pretty funny how he just casually took it out and handed it to the trainer, though. :) I was surprised after seeing the Versus/TSN feeds that Murray wasn't called for a penalty for the hit on Franzen, but perhaps the ref saw what was revealed in the other angle, which was that contact was shoulder to shoulder. He probably got some wicked whiplash though, because he didn't know it was coming. I didn't think the penalty on Pavelski was penalty shot-worthy, even by the "new" standards, so good thing he missed the shot?

This series ended in 5 games, but it definitely wasn't easy. All of the Sharks wins were very close and could have gone either way. But that's how it is in the playoffs, and the Sharks managed to be on the winning side 4 times

I can't imagine Lidstrom retiring. He's certainly still good enough to play at not just an NHL level, but at an elite level. And I've seen some articles about the topic, but it all just seems kind of... muted and quiet. Like Niedermayer's waffling seemed to have gotten a lot more attention.

Anyway, here's some articles written by people who don't give a shit about the Sharks until the playoffs then just make fun of them for a bit:

Purdy: Mighty Marleau silences the doubters
By Mark Purdy
San Jose Mercury News
Posted: 05/08/2010 10:21:26 PM PDT
Updated: 05/09/2010 06:17:23 AM PDT

Third period. Clock moving. Score tied.

And holy cow, there was Patrick Marleau. Wide open. Ice all around him. Net in front of him.

On the bench, Sharks coach Todd McLellan saw the whole thing — Marleau coming free, Joe Thornton behind the goal fishing for the puck, starting to look up. McLellan, inside his head, began silently screaming for Thornton to see Marleau.

No, check that.

"I don't know if we were silent," McLellan said.

One second later, nobody was. Thornton, a relentless hog for the puck all Saturday night, snared it and made a perfect feed to Marleau, who turned and whipped the one-timer past Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard. The Sharks were ahead, 2-1.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how dragons are slain.

Oh, it wasn't entirely that simple, of course. The Sharks beat the Red Wings on the backs of more than one or two players. It took an entire Sharks village to bring down a Red Wings dynasty, win the series and advance to the Western Conference finals for only the second time in franchise history.

But still. How can you ignore the denouement? The series-winning goal was scored by the man who supposedly had no idea how to even annoy a dragon mildly, let alone slay one.

"For him personally," Thornton said of Marleau, "that was huge for him."

Last week after the Sharks took a lead over Detroit in the series, Shark defenseman Dan Boyle had cautioned that this wasn't like a movie, with heroes and villains and a guaranteed outcome by the good guys. But the way it turned out definitely read like a script.

Let's rewind to nine months ago. McLellan had a meeting with Marleau to explain that he would have to relinquish his captaincy of the Sharks. The reasons were never stated publicly. But the assumption was that Marleau too often had failed to be a true team leader and had disappeared at crunch time in the playoffs when the Sharks needed him most. Thornton had taken similar criticism.

So look what happens. In the Game 3 overtime, Marleau scores the winning goal off a great pass by Thornton. In Game 5, the two connect again.

Coincidence? Don't think so. After the heroics of Joe Pavelski and his line in the first playoff round against Colorado, the proper response by Thornton and his line should have been to raise their own game against Detroit.

That's exactly what happened in the final two Sharks victories. Thornton and Marleau and Dany Heatley may not have been awesome every shift offensively, but that's only because most of the time, they were trying to handle Pavel Datsyuk and Detroit's top line.

When the Thornton three did get the puck in the offensive zone, though, the chances were fast and furious. Including that last one, the winning one. Too many Detroit players chased after Thornton behind the net and left Marleau alone. Thornton said he saw Marleau right away out of the corner of his eye.

"He's money from that spot," Thornton said. "I was really shocked that they would leave a 40-odd goal scorer that open."

So was Marleau.

"I'm not exactly too sure how I got there," Marleau said. "It was getting kind of scrambly."

He also wasn't sure how he ended up on his knees after taking the shot. Usually, that's a Heatley move.

"He might be rubbing off on me," Marleau joked. "I got quite a bit of wood on it — or graphite, these days."

After that, it was a matter of our beloved Los Tiburones killing off the rest of the clock and holding onto the lead. Again, more heavy baggage was at stake. In the 2007 playoffs against Detroit, the Sharks were trying to hold onto a similar lead and take a vise grip on the series — when Marleau was among a group of Sharks responsible for a turnover that created Detroit's tying goal and led to an eventual overtime win.

So it was also good to see that, in the final minute when the Sharks were trying to kill off a ridiculously tense 6-on-4 power play, Marleau was among the penalty killers on the ice. And when the puck was cleared for the final time, no man had a broader smile on his face.

McLellan, asked if he could have envisioned that removing the captain's "C" from Marleau would have wound up with this kind of result, nodded.

"Patty is a huge part of this team," McLellan said. "I think he's just a big a part of this team and in this community as he ever was. In some ways, I think he's better equipped to do this than before."

Thanks to Marleau's goal, the Sharks are four victories away from bringing the Stanley Cup finals to HP Pavilion. Dragons be warned.

You have no idea how horrified I was to read Patty's quote about Heatley rubbing off on him. Not to mention the follow up comment... Also, when I read the thing about 4 more wins and we're in the Stanley Cup Final I was like, that can't be right. Then I realized that it was!

Joe Thornton comes up big
By Mark Emmons
Posted: 05/09/2010 11:50:34 AM PDT
Updated: 05/10/2010 01:10:39 AM PDT

Before this playoff series against Detroit began, Joe Thornton was talking about how the Sharks matched up with the Red Wings in a way that might also describe his philosophy of life.

"You know me," Thornton had said. "I always think everything is going to be all right."

The problem for Thornton over the years, of course, is that easygoing attitude rarely has served him well in the pressure-cooker environment of the NHL postseason. But Thornton knew what he was talking about this time.

Everything is all right for both him and the Sharks.

Thornton scored one goal and then assisted on Patrick Marleau's winner with a beautiful pass from behind the net as the Sharks defeated arch-nemesis Detroit 2-1 Saturday night at HP Pavilion to take the second-round series.

Afterward, in a joyous Sharks locker room, Thornton quietly stated the obvious.

"Considering who we were playing, yeah, that's probably the best I've ever played in the postseason," he said.

Simply put, Thornton performed like a superstar in this series. The score sheet speaks for itself. Thornton had three goals — tying his career high for a playoff series — to go along with five assists. But beyond his point total, Thornton also showed focus, energy and even anger that often has been absent from his game in the postseason.

"He's one of the individuals who had to shed a reputation, fairly or not," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.

Thornton went a long way in doing that against the Red Wings.

"For whatever reason, I always play Detroit really, really well," he said. "They have such a competitive bunch up front. That forces me to be on top of my game. I felt great and confident right from Game 1, and I rode it the entire series."

Labeled "No Show Joe" for his tendency to be invisible in Boston during the postseason, Thornton also has received harsh criticism as a primary reason for San Jose's perennial playoff disappointments.

He did little to change that image in the first-round series against Colorado. Thornton was held without a goal, had three assists and a minus-4 rating.

"I got off to a slow start against Colorado," he said. "I never really found my game in that series."

Against the Red Wings, he was Jumbo Joe again.

But he was a very unhappy Joe when Detroit took a 1-0 lead in the second period Saturday. Johan Franzen knocked Thornton's stick out of his hand, and he had just retrieved it when Brian Rafalski scored.

"I went to pick it up, and suddenly the puck was in the back of the net," Thornton said. "I was like 'Wow, that sucks.' "

Two minutes later, though, Thornton scored the equalizer just seven seconds into a Sharks power play when he converted a pass from Dany Heatley.

His real heroics, though, came in the third period on the game-winner. Heatley won the puck in a scrum behind the Detroit net and got it over to Thornton. Out of the corner of his eye, Thornton saw Marleau free in front of the crease.

Pass, shot, goal.

"It was an easy play for me," Thornton said. "Patty is the one who made it happen."

Perhaps, but after the game, much of the discussion was about how Thornton had imposed his will on this series, playing a well-rounded, physical game as he dictated the flow of the action in commanding fashion.

"He wants it so bad, and you can see it in him," Sharks captain Rob Blake said. "He wanted it last year, and people don't understand that. He's a very determined individual right now, and that's great for us."

Now, it's on to a conference finals for the first time in Thornton's career.

Circled by reporters after the game, he was asked if eliminating the powerful Red Wings will help silence the talk about the Sharks' past postseason struggles.

He shrugged.

"We want to win the next series, and then the next series after that," Thornton said. "If that happens, then maybe everybody will be quiet."

But already Thornton has turned down the volume a bit.

I think Joe's been injured a lot in the playoffs in the past. And sure he could skate around looking like he's injured but trying really really hard! but ultimately what does that do? You're still just as ineffective. It's funny, I still don't really like him, but I defend/forgive him a lot more than a lot of people who do. :P

Killion: Sharks Orbiting Planet Pavelski

Ann Killion
In case you’re wondering -- and I’m sure you are -- only one American hockey player has won the Conn Smythe trophy, the award for the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The lone Yank was Brian Leetch in 1994.

So, yes, Joe Pavelski has a chance to make some history.

Are we getting ahead of ourselves? To be considered for the Conn Smythe, Pavelski has to realistically win at least six more games -- that number would put the Sharks in the Stanley Cup finals. Ten more victories would be even better since Conn Smythe winners are almost always champions, and Wisconsin native Pavelski could then skate around holding the silver cup that’s as big as he is.

Crazy talk? On Planet Pavelski, following Sunday's 4-3 comeback win, anything seems possible right now.

"Whatever planet he’s on everyone wants to get on it with him," said Joe Thornton. On Sunday night Thornton got into Pavelski's orbit, with the game-winning goal, giving the Sharks a stunning 2-0 series lead against Detroit.

Pavelski leads the league in playoff goals with nine. He's first in power play goals, with five – adding two more on Sunday night. He’s tied for second in points with 14 – he had a beauty of an assist to Ryane Clowe in front of the net.

"It's going in right now," Pavelski said with his customary "Hey, don’t look at me" shrug.

Going in, in a way it rarely does. Pavelski is the first player to have three straight multi-goal games since Mario Lemieux in 1992. Pretty heady company.

On Sunday, after Detroit took a 1-0 lead, Pavelski tied the game with a shot from the blue line. As he celebrated someone tossed some form of seafood on the ice - "some kind of fish, I almost tripped over it," Pavelski said. He gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead, finding Clowe in front of the net a few minutes later. And in the third, he tied the game again on a 5-on-3. Oh, and he was 13-3 on faceoffs. And if want to measure his confidence, his 11 shots -- 8 in the final period –-- is a good yardstick.

He’s in the kind of zone players can only dream about.

"This is what you think about when you’re lying in bed and you can't sleep," Pavelski said.

Pavelski is No. 1 in playoff scoring and No. 1 in Sharks fans’'hearts. Every time his face -- adorned with a hopeful ginger playoff beard -- appeared on the big screen at HP Pavilion, the crowd swooned. The fans are having a postseason romance the way they haven’t had since -- well, maybe since their first love, Arturs Irbe.

That rocking house of teal has been waiting for years to envelope a player with intense, deafening playoff passion, but it’s usually unrequited love. Owen Nolan, Thornton, Patrick Marleau -- particularly Marleau -- have never responded to the fans' adoring overtures with sufficient output.

Pavelski has. He’s become a closely-shorn, ice-dwelling counterpart to Tim Lincecum - a young, homegrown guy who makes outlandish things seem possible.

"Everything he touches seems to go in the net - Pav is a catalyst right now," said Todd McLellan, who now has to clarify when being asked a question if he’s to talk about designated superstar Thornton or Pavelski.

"Are we talking Jumbo in this situation?" McLellan asked to one inquisitor who wanted to know something about "Joe."

The irony isn’t lost on anyone. Thornton’s game-winner was nice, but the truly jumbo player is little No. 8. The "Little Joe" nickname no longer applies, JoePa is already taken. "The Big Pavelski" is a favorite of his friends back home in Wisconsin. But right now, the simplest moniker may be "the Man" because that’s what Pavelski has been.

Pavelski has been a promising player ever since his rookie season in 2007. But he was one of the legions of underachievers in last season’s abbreviated playoff run -- scoring only one point. He started this year with a broken foot.

No one could have predicted anything like this from him.

At least not until last February. That’s when Pavelski caught the attention of every hockey fan with his gritty smart play for the United States Olympic Team. Brian Burke, the team’s general manager, called him "a Swiss army knife of a player," because of his ability to do so many things.

"I've heard that Swiss Army knife comment several times," McLellan said.

"His experience was a real positive one. He went there not knowing what the young American team could do. Not knowing where he'd fit in. He worked his way up. One thing he had going for him is that Ron Wilson knows him well, the way we know him."

The Olympics were the most intense hockey experience the players will ever experience. Pavelski embraced the opportunity and used those weeks in Vancouver to gain confidence.

"The pace of play there was awesome," he said. "The crowd, the excitement. You definitely felt, in terms of skill level, you had to raise your game or you’re going to be left behind. After last postseason, it was the first taste of something that means that much."

It means that much now. Every minute of hockey is intense, full, charged with consequence. And Pavelski, unlike so many of the Sharks who have come before him, is rising to the occasion.

I love Mr. Pavelski, but he isn't in the same stratosphere as Lincecum, even if he's on another planet. Would have been nice if he'd scored on that penalty shot, though, just to add to his "legend" haha. Also, why does everyone in the Bay Area (and possibly at Versus) seem to have forgotten about the time we went to the WCF in 2004? When we had the team that was supposed to miss the playoffs and Patty scored not one but two hat tricks but apparently that isn't "sufficient output". *boggles*

And here's one by someone who actually did give a shit about the Sharks:

Marleau answers in deeds, not words
By Ross McKeon, Yahoo! Sports May 9, 12:09 pm EDT

SAN JOSE, Calif. – From the edge of the right faceoff circle, Patrick Marleau(notes) let 'er rip. The no-doubt-about-it goal was special. This was the one that would propel the San Jose Sharks past the Detroit Red Wings and into nearly uncharted territory for this closely scrutinized franchise.

With his left knee on the ice and the puck safely in the net, Marleau gave an emphatic pump of his gloved fist to bring down the house. This had to be the biggest goal of his career. This had to feel extra special considering no player has taken more abuse for San Jose's postseason flops than the 30-year-old ex-captain.

Instead, Marleau wouldn't go down that road afterward. Having talked about his goal, his team's breakthrough series win, and the franchise's opportunity now to go where it failed in 2004 when the Sharks lost to Calgary in their only other visit to a conference final, Marleau still wouldn't bite.

"Yeah, why do you guys start all that stuff, eh?" Marleau offered when asked if this answers his critics. "Where did that all come from?"

And maybe that's the best sign for the Sharks moving forward. Maybe that says no one is satisfied with a second-round win. Maybe no one wants to stop just because they beat the two-time West champs and reached the final four in the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs to boot.

"We shed some of that reputation we supposedly earned," said coach Todd McLellan, who has rebounded from getting upset in the first round by a No. 8 seed in his rookie year of coaching to knocking off his former employers the next. "By no means is our task done.

"The fact that it was a team that has been to the Stanley Cup final the last couple of years, a team that has quite frankly had our number over the last little bit," he added. "And the ability to recover from the shellacking we took in their building. I think there were more questions there. There were a lot of things to overcome."

He mentioned how fitting it was for Marleau to score the game-winner. McLellan mentioned there were questions about San Jose's top players, and he's satisfied they have been answered – so far.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock, the man who brought McLellan into the NHL as an assistant on the Red Wings' staff, had faced the Sharks just once before in the playoffs. That was 2007, when San Jose was on the verge of taking a 3-1 lead in the series. Only 30 seconds stood between the Sharks and a big home victory. Instead, several Sharks were blamed for being on the wrong side of the puck on a key faceoff win by Detroit, which tied the game, won in overtime and went on to win that series in six games. Marleau was one of the players singled out that night, and it had to stick with him since.

Still, Marleau just isn't going to go there.

"It's great to be winning, I think that's the main thing," Marleau said. "It doesn't matter who gets it. As long as we're winning, that's what it's about this time of the year."

So if this was all about redemption, removing the label of underachiever, a team that annually fails to live up to expectations, no one was going to get Marleau to admit it. There were others, standing nearby, who were pretty happy to see who was wearing the hero tag as opposed to goat horns.

"To get the game-winner in Game 3 and to get the game-winner tonight, you know, he just battles," said Sharks center Joe Thornton. "He's going to grab a lot of confidence from this game. It’s a huge goal for the team and the way we’ve been playing, but it's a huge goal for him personally."

The fact is, Thornton had something to prove, too. He was maligned for getting outplayed by Anaheim's young line led by Ryan Getzlaf last spring. Thornton didn't talk after a couple of those games, including the series clincher. While not putting up overwhelming numbers in the first-round victory against Colorado, the spotlight grew on Thornton. He responded against Detroit.

Down 1-0 midway through the second period Saturday, Thornton picked up a rebound of a Dany Heatley deflection and beat Red Wings rookie goalie Jimmy Howard for a power-play goal to tie it. But his best work came early in the third period.

Heatley keyed the sequence with a hard forecheck on Brian Rafalski, separating the Detroit defenseman from the puck and sending it Thornton’s way to the side of the net.

"When Heater went in on the forecheck I sort of sensed where (Marleau) was. He’s money from that spot," Thornton said.

Thornton delivered one of his patented 20-foot passes before anyone could anticipate, and Marleau had one right in his wheelhouse. Howard had no chance. Yes, 13:01 still had to be played, but Marleau and the Sharks had broken through. They would not be stopped from that point on.

"It’s a huge smile for the entire organization now, and Patty played great," Thornton said.

I like that he put "eh" into the quote, hehe.

Well, I'm going to appreciate a few days of rest until the next series starts. Maybe catch some of the World Championships. tersa told me that Jack Johnson is captain of the US team, which made me laugh hysterically. Oh, man.

Also, I was totally unaware of Dallas Braden's perfect game until I checked Twitter. And then they showed him hugging his grandma and started talking about how his mom died of cancer when he was in high school and his grandma raised him and he's straight out of Stockton and and... how could I not cry???

  • Wine weekend!

    Just got back from a weekend in Wine Country. Ate lots of good food, tasted some wine and played Codenames and One Night Ultimate Werewolf at night.…

  • AO3 initialized!

    A month and a half later, I have finally started posting old fic to AO3! :P Best of Seven I will add more whenever I'm not lazy, heh heh.

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  • Wine weekend!

    Just got back from a weekend in Wine Country. Ate lots of good food, tasted some wine and played Codenames and One Night Ultimate Werewolf at night.…

  • AO3 initialized!

    A month and a half later, I have finally started posting old fic to AO3! :P Best of Seven I will add more whenever I'm not lazy, heh heh.

  • Dude, where's my site?

    So apparently my fic site has been deleted. Don't really feel like hunting down free web hosting so I might start putting it on AO3. Is that pretty…