Bandwagon May Need Tow Truck

May 22

It’s not over, but it’s really over.

At about 3:00 Sunday afternoon at the Tank, a couple of hundred Canucks fans sang “O Canada,” and chanted “we want the Cup” as they hung around in Section 224 after Game 4 of the NHL Western Conference Finals. Nervous ushers weren’t quite sure how to herd out that many fans, some of whom already had a Cup. Or two.

It looked like they were mugging for Canadian television. Satisfied that their 15 minutes of fame was over, they finally poured out into the parking lot, chanting “ole ole-ole-ole.” I wonder how many are really from Canada.

Sharks fans had already filed out long before. With a 3-1 deficit, the sun is setting on their team.

At 12:20, when the puck dropped for an early start, the Sharks apparently didn’t get the wake-up call. Either that, or rapture took away the Sharks team that showed up Friday night.

The Sharks beat themselves and lost to the Canucks, 4-2. I have maintained that the Canucks are the better team, but that’s especially true when they have two more skaters. That’s what happened in the 2nd period: three consecutive 5-on-3 power plays which netted three goals.

The Sharks shot themselves in the foot with penalties that included too many men on the ice and delay of game as a puck was shot over the glass. What followed was a three-goal avalanche in less than two minutes.

The large contingent of Canuck fans in attendance ( one report said 4,000 ) erupted. The Sharks just couldn’t recover in time, and the Canucks added injury to insult in the third period.

I had a feeling before the game ( and tweeted as much ) that Vancouver would answer Jamie McGinn’s crushing hit on Aaron Rome during Game 3, and that Raffi Torres would likely be involved. He has haunted the Sharks before.

In the third period Torres laid a hit on Joe Thornton’s shoulder, and Thornton never returned. His status for Game 5 is up in the air.

Ryane Clowe punctuated an ugly Sunday by punching the Canucks’ Ryan Kesler as the final horn sounded, probably out of frustration. Kesler called it a “sucker punch” and said he hopes the league looks at it, although they might also look at Kesler’s Joe Palooka prat-fall. For Clowe, one of the grittiest Sharks, it was indicative of the team’s lack of discipline.

The three-goal spurt will be the story of Game 4 but the Sharks will also rue how they missed early chances to take the lead. Their power play, so potent in the first three games, went kaput on Sunday as they went 0 for 5. Perhaps water was seeking its own level, as Vancouver was the top penalty-killing team in the NHL.

Part of the credit also goes to Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who was sharp in turning away 33 shots. Now it’s back to Vancouver. The Sharks will undoubtedly have to weather a storm because the Canucks will come out on fire to start Game 5, just as the Sharks did Friday night.

Much has been made of the Sharks’ postseason futility over 20 years, but any Shark fan ready to have a pity party should look north of the border. The Canucks have been in the league twice as long and have yet to win the Cup. One more win and they’ll have that chance.

The Sharks needed to win at least one game in Vancouver when the series began, and while they now must win two, only Game 5 matters, or summer begins in San Jose. Sharks fans will have to console themselves by remembering their team made the Conference Finals in consecutive years.

Canuck fans, meanwhile, may soon make plans to invade Tampa or Boston. I’m pretty sure they serve beer in those towns.

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One Response to “Bandwagon May Need Tow Truck”

  1. Rynkevin Says:

    If Kesler didn’t wanna get punched why was he hitting Clowe with his stick and jawing at him.

    Act like an ass when youre winning your gonna get smacked !

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