One game has been played in the Western Conference Semi-Final between the San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings, and I’m thinking about a Yogi Berra baseball quote when trying to characterize what this series is going to be like.
“Baseball is ninety percent mental,” Yogi once quipped. “The other half is physical.”
Well, this series between the Sharks and the Kings is also going to seem one with physical prominence. It’s one where the grinding along the boards and in front of the net will also be prominent, recalling a moment last night where five skaters hammered for the puck in the San Jose defensive zone for what seemed like an eternity before it finally popped out to a Sharks stick.
But as Yogi indicated about his sport, ninety percent of the Sharks challenge in this series is probably going to be right between the ears.
All in all, the Sharks did many good things in this game, especially considering the week off. Realistically, the one place where the rust mattered over the rest was in the emotional edge, which slowly returned as the game went on. As my broadcast partner Jamie Baker noted on the radio last night, “Every battle counts.” He’s correct.
There were a lot of interesting chess matches going on between the coaches. There were quick line changes early in the game. There was a stand-off near the end of an icing before a time out was finally called. But there were physical challenges, too.
Primarily, the Sharks have to maintain their patience and their composure. They’re going to have more situations in this series where they could be frustrated by the Stanley Cup champions. But make no mistake, now that one team has a victory, this series is on, and while the chess matches will continue, the desperation, the rivalry, and the emotional edge will escalate.
We look forward to bringing all the action to you on the radio. See you on Thursday.