LCS Hockey: Born Again
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July 18, 2019
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First Round Recap: Calgary vs San Jose

Joe Thornton
photo by Matthieu Masquelet

Calgary Flames (7) vs San Jose Sharks (2): San Jose won series, 4-3.

Sometimes, life isn't scared to just haul back and kick you right in the ol' Charlie Browns.

The San Jose Sharks beat the Calgary Flames in Game Seven, 5-3. That's not the depressing part. I picked the Fish in seven. No, the problem was how the Sharks got their five goals.

I never thought I'd write the following sentence, but here goes.

Joe Thornton scored in Game Seven. Aw, I feel sick. But wait, it gets worse.

Jeremy Roenick had two goals and two assists. That's right. J.R. Wanna Be Superstar scored four points in a Game Seven. I swear, this is the best episode of Punk'd ever.

This series was back and forth the whole way. Game Seven started out in similar fashion. Even after Thornton staked the Sharks to the 1-0 lead, the Flames battled back. Jarome Iginla tied the score at 12:23 of the first on the power play, and then Owen Nolan scored on a breakaway at 3:33 of the second to put El Scorcho in front, 2-1. Nolan's wrist shot bounced off Evgeni Nabokov and then off his own shin before caroming into the net. Where was he in the All-Star Game skills competition?

But just when it seemed the Sharks were about to suffer another devastating playoff defeat, Roenick saved the day. Seriously, I swear I saw Ashton Kutcher sitting behind the Calgary net.

Roenick tied the game at 6:04 of the second, floating a weak shot from long range that somehow found its way under Miikka Kiprusoff. Exactly three minutes later, Roenick put the Sharks ahead 3-2 with a power-play marker.

Manning the left point on the man-advantage, Roenick skated in and had his initial shot blocked. Undaunted, he followed up his own shot and snapped the second chance over a sprawling Kiprusoff. Forgive me; I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

At 14:01 of the second, Joe Pavelski potted his third of the series to put the Fish in front 4-2. And that brings us to our turning point.

Miikka Kiprusoff
photo by Matthieu Masquelet

In all his infinite wisdom, Mike Keenan elected to pull Kiprusoff and replace him with Curtis Joseph. The ploy worked in Game Three, as Joseph came off the bench to stop 22 shots in helping the Flames rally from a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3. It wasn't going to work again.

Only 52 seconds after entering the game, Joseph was beaten on the first shot he faced. Devon Setoguchi wired a bullet from the high slot. Joseph barely got off his goal line. If he were any deeper in net, he would have hit oil. Setoguchi drank his milkshake Game over.

Wayne Primeau pulled the Flames to within 5-3 at 5:18 of the third, but they couldn't get any closer. Had the game been 4-3, the rest of the period would have been a whole hell of a lot more interesting, especially when Patrick Rissmiller took a high-ticking penalty at 11:15. But it wasn't 4-3. It was 5-3. And Kipper was still on the bench.

Keenan screwed up. He should have never yanked Kipper. If he wanted to change the momentum, he should have used his timeout. You don't hook your No. 1 goaltender from a Game Seven, especially when it's only a two-goal margin in the second period. It was a mistake. End of discussion.

While that was the turning point of Game Seven, the turning point of the series may have been Jonathan Cheechoo's goal in Game Four. The Flames had the 2-1 series lead and were up 2-1 in the game with less than five minutes left in the third. That's when Cheechoo belted a bad-angle one-timer over Kipper's left shoulder from the bottom of the right circle. It was sick.

The Sharks would go on to win the game in the closing seconds of regulation. If the Flames close out those final five minutes and take a 3-1 lead back to San Jose, it's over. It's all over.

Jarome Iginla
photo by Matthieu Masquelet

Jarome Iginla and Dion Phaneuf were both gigantic. Iggy led the team in scoring with four goals and nine points; Phaneuf was second with three goals and seven points. Phaneuf's performance was particularly encouraging considering his past playoff implosions.

Owen Nolan turned back the clock. He played a tough, physical game and chipped in three goals and two assists for good measure.

Cory Sarich's effort in Game Three was definitely heroic. His bone-rattling check on Patrick Marleau sparked the three-goal comeback.

Speaking of Marleau, he took a beating in Game Three but kept on truckin'.

And there's no getting around it. Thornton and Roenick were both h... h... aw, you know what they were. Roenick was a healthy scratch for Game Six. Old school J.R. would have pouted and cried himself to sleep, but plain old J.R. responded like a champ. Yeah, I don't believe it either.

Aside from his Game Seven tally, Thornton's other goal came with just 10 seconds left in Game Four, giving the Sharks a 3-2 win and tying the series 2-2. But I'm not gonna ditch the Snow Thornton nickname just yet. It's still only the first round. Let me know when he reaches the Finals.

And no goal was bigger than Cheechoo's miracle Game Four blast. It was a bolt from the blue. It's the kind of goal that could inspire song.

El Scorcho needed more from Alex Tanguay and Kristian Huselius. Neither one scored a goal in the series. Calgary only has three skill guys up front. When two of them don't score, there's grief.

Even in victory, Milan Michalek was quite weasely. He had exactly no points and only seven shots the entire series. That's tough to do. I believe it was only seven more shots than Don Knotts had, and Michalek didn't have to contend with all that dirt.

But Mike Keenan was the one true weasel. He mangled Game Seven, not to mention his relationship with Kiprusoff. It's official. The Keenan experiment was a failure. Move on.

LCS Hockey: Born Again
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