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A Few Thoughts on Last Night’s Game

Here’s a few random thoughts from last night’s Sharks/Stars telecast on Canada’s Sports Leader, TSN. For those of you who missed it, the Sharks, down 3-1 in the series and playing on home ice, rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 in overtime, scoring just 65 seconds into the first extra frame. But if you’re reading Illegal Curve, chances are you don’t miss games like this!

Awesome Anthem Antics

A good playoff hockey atmosphere in an arena can be recognized long before the puck is dropped. Those of us who were lucky enough to attend White Outs at the Winnipeg Arena hold this truth to be self-evident. Walking in and seeing 15,000 fans decked out in white, and screaming long before the opening face-off was enough to give anyone goosebumps.

In Calgary and Edmonton at playoff time these days, you know you’re somewhere special as early as the national anthem. The crowd drowns out the singer (who often simply holds up the mic) during Oh Canada in what can only be described as what is now a compelling patriotic tradition. Somewhat conversely, the Philly fans’ booing of the Canadian anthem prior to game 3 of the series with the Habs set the stage for a raucious battle that lived up to the slogans of ‘Crush the Canadiens’ and ‘Vengeance Now’ ( though such booing is not to be condoned, especially when it’s the anthem of Daniel –errrrr– “Dany” Briere, Martin Biron, et al……not too smart on the part of the fans!)

Anyways, this is all to say that I loved it when the San Jose fans energetically booed the word “Stars” in the national anthem. In Dallas, the fans scream out that word during the anthem, and the San Jose action provided a nice antidote which was quite amusing. I’m not saying that was the ONE MOMENT (See below) that set the stage for the Sharks victory, but if it was, to quote Chris Rock, then I’d understand.

The Iceman Cometh

As my dad noticed during the game last night (I feel like Bill Simmons writing a sentence like this), Dallas coach Dave Tippett shows absolutely no emotion whatsoever on the bench. None. Zilch. Nada. You know that footage of Don Cherry standing up on the Bruins bench screaming that we see in every HNIC intro? Well you won’t see Tippett do something like that. In fact, if he was cyrogenically frozen ala Ted Williams and then placed in a suit behind the Stars’ bench, it would probably take a full period to notice anything different with the former LA King turned NHL coach. In other words, his coaching behavior is slightly more cool, calm, and collected than that of Quebec Ramparts bench boss Patrick “Fight, Boy!” Roy.

The Rule of One is One Glen Healy Rule Too Many

Both before and during last night’s telecast, Glen Healy pontificated about his “Rule of One” that, in his eyes, characterized the Sharks/Stars series. According to Heals, each of the first five games could be summed up by one key mistake. He then went through game footage, showing the viewers these so-called critical moments. Invariably, each highlight showed either a turnover, a missed checking assignment, or a bad rebound that led to a go-ahead goal seconds later. This footage, to Healy, supported his Rule of One proposition.

OK. Let’s think about this for a second. Basically, what Healy was claiming is that in each playoff game, the actions of one team immediately preceding their opponent’s go-ahead goal, was of great importance. This isn’t exactly rocket science. In fact, it’s pretty much indisputably self-evident. It’s like looking back at a baseball game and saying the turning point in the game was the one pitch that led to a grand slam. No kidding. But in reality, momentum changes can and are far more nuanced than this, and we should expect more from our colour commentators (including Healy, who as Illegal Curve’s own HD Corner often points out, does an overall decent job on air.)

The Rule of 33

Another “rule” that came up time and time again during the telecast was the “Rule of 33”. Some researcher at TSN noticed that the last two teams to come down from 3-0 deficits were the ’42 Leafs and the ’75 Islanders. And if the ’08 Sharks could come back against the Stars, this would provide amazing symmetry (since, for those without calculators, 1975 was 33 years ago).

I found this analysis quite funny since it immediately called to mind the “Rule of 77” that was promulgated at the Passover Seder in a Season 5 Episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. In that episode, Len Dunkel (Larrry’s hardcore Republican relative through marriage) claims that since George Washington’s presidency, great presidents have held office every 77 years. Therefore–according to this theory–only Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and George W. Bush are great presidents.

We’ll see how this plays out. But my money’s on the Sharks winning in 7 even though to pull it off they will have to be PRETTY, PRETTY, GOOD.

For Illegal Curve, I’m Steve Werier.