Sharks on to Round 2!
The title pretty much says it all. The Sharks needed some overtime to do it, but they beat the LA Kings 4-3 and none other than Joe Thornton scored the game winner. It was a great game from the beginning, and was really a summary of the whole series in 1 game. Sharks turnovers lead to Kings goals; good puck control by the Sharks led to Sharks goals. So now we wait to see if we get the Chicago Blackhawks, pushing the Canucks to a game 7 tonight, or the well rested Detroit Redwings for round 2.
Two things about the playoffs this year. First, the officiating. I'm aware that come playoffs refs tend to put their whistles away and let the teams play. This is, for the most part, fine with me as it makes for a more exciting game and gives the game a better flow. I don't mind missed calls because I believe it evens out over the course of the series. What I mind is inconsistency. If a ref is going to call a particular infraction it needs to be done throughout the game. This isn't happening throughout all the playoff games I've been seeing. I think it's silly that the NHL spends the regular season officiating the game one way, then throws it all out once the playoffs begin. Instead they concentrate on getting rid of time honored traditions that make the NHL what it is. See how the NHL is trying to outlaw the octopus toss for Redwings games. This unstandardized calling of playoff games leads to coaches going to the press to try and gain calls from refs in the next game. To me it just looks bad on the part of the coach, who I think should just worry about the things he can control, and the league who is trying to gain some fans during these playoffs. I hope the second round will have more consistency on the ice for everyone.
And my last quibble about these playoffs is reserved for LA Kings coach Terry Murray. For new fans, or casual fans, or non-fans for that matter, the end of a playoff series includes a handshake. It only happens in the playoffs and traditionally the team with bench coaches (typically 3; head coach and 2 assistants) line up on the ice and go down the line shaking hands of the opposing team. It's a gesture of respect for a hard played playoff series. It's classy, it's nice, and it's something that separates the NHL from other big leagues. I was disappointed to hear that Terry Murray didn't take part in this. I'm sure he was upset to be on the losing end of the series, but as the head coach you set an example of sorts to your players and to your fans, and I don't think that's a good example to be showing. The Kings are an extremely talented and young team and this is not the last we'll see of them in the playoffs.