|Los Angeles Kings' Peter Harrold, bottom, falls onto the ice trying to advance the puck against San Jose Sharks' Jody Shelley (45) during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Los Angeles on Tuesday, March 18, 2008. The Sharks won 2-1.(AP Photo/Francis Specker) |
Some Sharks players will be entering unchartered waters when Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals begins tonight against Calgary at HP Pavilion.
Four will be making their National Hockey League postseason debut: forwards Jody Shelley, Torrey Mitchell
and Devin Setoguchi and defenseman Douglas Murray
In addition, four will experience the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in Teal: defensemen Brian Campbell and Alexei Semenov, center Jeremy Roenick and goaltender Brian Boucher.
The first-timers to the Stanley Cup Playoffs are excited. For example, Shelley has been in the League for seven years, but since he played for only Columbus, he never played past the end of the regular season.
“That’s the way it worked out,” Shelley said. “I was in the playoffs with in the AHL with Syracuse (Columbus’ top development affiliate). Normally, I’m the guy at my house tonight watching the games.”
There’s no doubt Shelley is ready. “I’m pretty excited,” he said.
Many things change when the playoffs begin. One change Shelley noticed was the locker room atmosphere the day after San Jose’s season ended.
“When we showed up Monday, it was quiet and focused,” he said. “There was a sense of business and that created excitement for me.”
Shelley’s first Stanley Cup Playoffs will also create excitement for family when the series moves to Calgary starting Sunday.
“My parents live in Edmonton” he said. “They’re quite jacked up for the games in Calgary.”
This series promises to be very physical and Shelley’s 6-foot-4 presence will be a factor. Although his minutes varied from as low as three to as high as 12 during the regular season, Shelley played in every game after being acquired from Columbus on Jan. 29.
|San Jose Sharks left wing Jody Shelley (45) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Montreal Canadiens during the second period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., on Monday, Mar. 3, 2008. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) |
Everyone knows why he’s on the ice, but Shelley has also earned a spot on the No. 4 line.
“Jody can play and has proven it to us,” Coach Ron Wilson said. “He’s played really well and been good in our own end. I’ve been really pleased and he’s earned the right to play in the playoffs.”
“My job is to keep it simple and play hard,” Shelley said. “The bottom line is I want to win the game.”
As for the rookies like Mitchell and Setoguchi, the veterans have done their job and passed them some important advice.
“Everyone says the physical play will pick up the first 10 minutes and guys will try to set the pace,” Mitchell, who played in six postseason games for San Jose’s AHL team in Worcester last year, said. “Then they will just play hockey. ‘Seto’ (Setoguchi) and I had dinner with ‘Rizz’ (forward Patrick Rissmiller) last night and he said it’s so exciting and fun. The most fun hockey we’ll ever play.”REMEMBER WHEN
If one went around the Sharks locker room to ask the veterans about their first Stanley Cup Playoff game, one might be surprised to find out they have to go deep into the memory bank to recall.
“I remember we played New Jersey,” defenseman Craig Rivet said after some deep thought. “We didn’t win the series. That was when they were winning Cups.” Rivet was in Montreal when the Canadiens lost to the Devils in the 1997 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. However, the Devils were eliminated in the semifinals.
“I’m trying to think if it was ‘95 or ’96,” defenseman Kyle McLaren said. He made his postseason debut in 1996 with Boston.
| San Jose Sharks defenseman Brian Campbell, center, (51) is mobbed by teammates Kyle McLaren (4), Joe Thornton (19), Milan Michalek (9), and Jonathan Cheechoo (14) after Campbell's goal against the St. Louis Blues in the first period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Friday, March 14, 2008. Just a month ago, the Sharks were among the NHL's biggest underachievers. Now, Joe Thornton & Co. a |
Even left wing Milan Michalek, whose first postseason was in 2006, had to stop to remember his first game.
“Edmonton, no it was Nashville,” Michalek said. “I know we won the first series.”
Right wing Jonathan Cheechoo recalled the atmosphere, but not many details.
“I know it was exciting and it was against St. Louis,” Cheechoo said of the 2004 quarterfinal series that the Sharks won in five games. “I was very nervous. It was unchartered territory for me. It was my second year and we went to the conference finals.”
ADVANTAGE SAN JOSE?
The Sharks have some noticeable differences they hope will take them past Calgary and beyond.
“We’re as ready as we can be,” Wilson said. “There was no better team when it mattered the most in March (when San Jose didn’t lose in regulation. We have various guys with a little more experience. ‘J.R.’ (center Jeremy Roenick) brings (that element). In years past, we’ve never had an offensive defenseman like Brian Campbell that can make an impact every shift.”
Comcast SportsNet is once again prompting Sharks fans to grow their playoff beards and send their photos to their web site. Fans can see more by clicking here
. NEXT GAME
Fans can watch Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals vs. Calgary at 7 p.m. tonight on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and listen on 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com