Brent Burns played Colin Kaepernick hockey against the Los Angeles Kings yesterday, and in a 42 second span, he scored a goal and assisted on another by TJ Galiardi. He played the point on the power play. He is, in a way, returning the era of the “rover” to today’s NHL without the too-many-men-on-the-ice call.
Joe Thornton racked up his 500th career assist in a Sharks uniform. Patrick Marleau is the only other Shark with more than 400 assists with San Jose.
Raffi Torres showed a nifty move in the shootout to pick up the game-deciding goal. He provided a much-needed presence all over the ice.
Antti Niemi had a spectacular night in goal, making many spectacular saves. One of his best was against Mike Richards during a 5-on-3 penalty killing sequence that was a heart-stopping, thrilling moment.
On the other side of the ice, the Kings gave it their all as well. After Niemi’s great save on Richards and the first penalty to Galiardi ended, Jake Muzzin perfectly placed a shot from the point through traffic and got the Kings on the board. Then, on a play where a penalty was to be called against San Jose, Anze Kopitar got the shot away, and Dustin Brown was able to will the rebound into the net to tie the score.
Let’s not forget Jonathan Quick, either. He had some spectacular saves down the stretch, including an amazing span midway through the third period off Tommy Wingels and Raffi Torres following a turnover.
It was a classic regular season game, one of the better ones that we’ve seen in the past few years, and it was punctuated by the fact that the Sharks were the team that had played and traveled the night before. It makes everyone look forward to the next game, and the next one after that, and that goes for Kings fans, too, who undoubtedly have circled the season finale on April 27th at Staples Center as a rendezvous point for their return barrage.
It brings fans many visions of what is to come in the post-season, even a potential Sharks-Kings playoff series, but make no mistake: no one in the Sharks locker room will even consider that topic until an “X” is placed next to the name “San Jose” in the NHL standings. The “X,” of course, indicates that a spot has been clinched, and as of now, there is no “X” next to “San Jose” in the standings. Not yet.
Last night’s scene reminded me of another one in a different setting: the classic World War II film, “Run Silent, Run Deep.” The commander of the USS Nerka, Captain P.J. Richardson (Clark Gable), has his entire crew spending day after day working on drill after drill as they patrol through the Pacific. Then, in a battle situation with a Momo-class destroyer, the Nerka executes what they’ve been practicing: a bow shot, normally used in desperation. They sink the Momo.
The crew celebrates, but the Captain, while happy, gets on the ship’s intercom and says, “Now hear this: Captain speaking. You’ve just given a (Japanese) tin can a deep six with a bow shot in 32 seconds. Gentlemen, I think this boat is ready for anything. Let’s keep it that way. Drills? No more than usual tomorrow.”
The Captain was reminding his crew to remain prepared and stay on an even keel. He knew that the Nerka still had the much more daunting challenge of taking on an Akikaze destroyer, which they would later in the picture.
Yes, last night’s game was an exciting one, but there are many more miles to travel. The Sharks have done much, but there is still much more to be done. Drills? No more than usual tomorrow.