I'm not known as a glass half full kind of guy. I'm a "who the hell drank half my Pepsi" kind of guy. But I feel it's time for a little history lesson for those of you who think the Sharks are done. In 1994-95, I was a fairly young Assistant Coach with our Sharkies. Kevin Constantine had led the team to a second consecutive playoff birth against another Alberta NHL team, the Calgary Flames.
As was the case in this series with the Oilers, the Sharks started out hot, winning the first two games in Calgary. Then the wheels came off. Heck the wheels exploded, left rubber strewn across the road and damaged the rims. Back at the tank the Flames rolled to a 9-2 victory. Former Sharks Kelly Kisio and Mike Sullivan each scored a hat trick. Game 4 was a bit better, but the Sharks still lost 6-4. Does the name Theo Fleury ring a bell? Back to Calgary tied 2-2 and with the Flames carrying the momentum they smoked us, 5-0.
One of the most memorable plays that game was Arturs Irbe running Sheldon Kennedy in the third period as Kennedy was chasing down a puck. Irbe split Kennedy wide open on his forehead and without a doubt the Flames were in Arties "kitchen."
We limped back to San Jose down in the mouth. The fans, media and even some staff thought it was over. But always look to the team. The guys in the room never thought it was over just like this year's team. We had a ton of character on that club. And like this year's team with Ron Wilson, we had a brilliant head coach in Constantine.
The afternoon before Game 6, Kevin called the assistants into the room and told us to take off for an hour. He didn't care where we went as long as it was away from the rink. He also told us to take another hour after we got back and write down any ideas to extend the series to a seventh game. Kevin was great that way. He'd listen, take counsel, filter the B.S. and come up with a smart game plan.
I can't remember the ideas we all came up with as a staff, but I can remember that we felt energized and optimistic after that meeting. That positive vibe was transferred the next morning to the team. We played a great, physical Game 6 and won 5-3. Of course we all know what happened in an amazing 7 in Calgary. Ray Whitney was the double overtime hero.
So here are my ideas to get the team on track - feel free to join in. 1-Take back the middle of the ice. The Sharks have to get to the front of the net and cause Roloson the same headaches as Toskala has experienced.
2-KISS on the power play. Keep It Simple Sharks. Quick, hard shots to the net with traffic in front. By the way, the only reason the Oilers have been so successful in killing penalties is because their penalty kill is outworking our power play - this is easily fixed. Work harder and smarter.
3-Make the Oilers earn everything. In other words don't give them a chance with mental mistakes.
4-Win the 1-on-1's. If you win the 1-on-1 situations then you’re giving the team a chance to win. It also shows your teammates that you're into the game and they can feed off that.
5-Concentrate on three things you do well as a player. Focus on those, execute those to the best of your abilities and don't worry about anything else.
As the signs say “Ya Gotta Believe”. Nothing good can come from hanging on to the memories and negative feelings from last game. For the guys, just go out and play. For the fans. Look to a Game 7 and stay classy San Jose.
For the Seagate Technology In the Crease, I'm Drew Remenda.