Hello, everyone. It’s Dan Mount again with another edition of the weekly Three Periods blog. The Stanley Cup Final is here and the Pittsburgh Penguins currently go into Saturday’s Game 3 with a 2-0 lead over the San Jose Sharks.
However, the series is far from over as the Sharks have been fairly good at the SAP Center unlike in recent seasons. Also, the old adage about “it’s not a series until the road team wins a game” still holds true.
The First Period will talk about the Final and the second will discuss some of the odd news items that have come out of the championship series. Lastly, I’ll talk about last week’s roster announcements for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey and some of the snubs that came from it.
Let’s get started.
The speed in this series has been as good as advertised. There may not be a lot of scoring, but the pace has been blinding the games have been tight. Pittsburgh has pulled out a pair of one-goal victories as it held serve at home. Both Matt Murray of the Penguins and Martin Jones of the Sharks have been up to the challenge and not wilted under the pressure of being in the spotlight.
Pittsburgh had a great stretch in Game 1 where they popped in two goals in just over a minute and looked like it was going to run away with the game. San Jose battled back thanks to an excellent wraparound-goal by the ageless Patrick Marleau. However, Nick Bonino’s late goal helped the Penguins get the series opener.
Game 2 was only a 2-1 overtime game, but there were so many good offensive chances. The Sharks hit the post at least three times, but the iron was unkind to them. Justin Braun found a way to tie it for San Jose after Phil Kessel started the scoring for Pittsburgh. It looked like the Sharks had the momentum, but ConorShearyscored early into overtime to give the Pens a 2-0 series advantage.
The series is far from over, but the Sharks need to get Game 3 or else there is no turning back. San Jose has seen an 0-3 deficit turned around (on them by the Los Angeles Kings), but it is rare to do in any sport. A win Saturday would give the Sharks life and get the home fans back into it. I anticipate San Jose to try and jump on Pittsburgh early.
There have been a couple of interesting storylines to emerge from the first two games of the final. The biggest one so far is Sharks forward and playoff leading scorer Logan Couture accusing the great Sidney Crosby of cheating on face offs. The charge came out after Pittsburgh’s Game 2 OT victory.
“He cheats. He gets away with that. He’s Sidney Crosby,” Couture said to the media. He went to say that Crosby times the draw, but doesn’t get kicked out because of his stature.
The accusation is a pretty heavy one laid at the feet of arguably the biggest star in the game. Calls will sometimes go in favor of the superstar, but this is pretty serious. Draws are about skill, timing and a little bit of luck. Couture was probably blowing off steam and frustrated by how Crosby has been besting him on the dot.
Many outlets have debunked “The Kid’s” face off winning style and The Sporting News said that a lot of people would be called cheaters the referees cracked down on Crosby. He may be a polarizing figure, but there is no denying the skill of the Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia native.
One thing Sharks fans may want is to see if defenseman Brent Burns will get shifted up to forward. The beastly blue-liner is usually parked out front when San Jose has a power play, but he’s mostly at the back on defense.
However, Burns has been moved up to forward several times when now Edmonton Oilers coach Todd McLellan was in charge in San Jose. Burns is a big body with a nasty shot and could be a real pain in the neck for the Pittsburgh roster. I know Sharks’ coach Peter DeBoer has been keen on keeping Burns out back, but a shakeup might be needed in order to salvage San Jose’s hopes on winning its first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Last week the final rosters for September’s World Cup of Hockey were released and there were plenty of head-scratching omissions to a few of the rosters. I’ll start with Team USA, who left off Tyler Johnson and Kessel from the roster. Justin Abdelkader is the first name that comes to mind when it comes to people that probably shouldn’t have made the roster. Kessel and Johnson have played outstanding in the postseason and should have gotten on the squad.
You could probably make an All-Snub team out of the players left off of Team Canada. The most glaring snubs from that roster are Taylor Hall and defenseman P.K. Subban. Hall played pretty well for Edmonton was a big part of Canada’s second straight gold medal at the IIHF Worlds. Subban is one of the best offensive-defenseman in the league. However, Hockey Canada thought they needed more lefty shots and Pernell Karl was left out in the cold.
I was also blown away by the exclusion of Dallas Stars’ defender John Klingberg being left off of the Team Sweden roster. Some will question the selection of Nashville Predators defenseman MattiasEkholm, but he’s earned a spot on the team. The Tre Kronor should have found a way to get the sweet-skating defender Klingberg on the roster.
Fashion Watch: Whenever a team changes uniforms, I’ll be sure to critique them. This week the Florida Panthers changed their sweaters for the first time in franchise history. The jumping Panther logo is gone for a profile picture of the cat and there will be red and white stripes with the logo in the middle.
I do like the jersey, but I wish the logo would have stayed the same. The jumping cat was one of the best in the league, and I’m sad to see it go. The new logo would make a great shoulder patch, but that would be where it would stay.
That’s it for this week. We may have a winner by the end of next week and then we will break down some offseason news. Take care.
Dan Mount is a producer with Spadora on Sports. He’s also the Nashville Predators beat writer for The Hockey Writers and covers local sports for the Watertown Daily Times. He can be found on Twitter @DanMountSports.