‘Victory is mine. I drink from the keg of glory.’
“Victory is mine. Great day in the morning. Victory is mine. I drink from the keg of glory. Bring me the finest bagels from throughout the land.” – Josh Lyman in the second episode of “The West Wing.”
Yes, I sip from the keg of glory, but you can bring me the finest single malts from throughout the land.
This ranks with the great moments of my fandom of my holy trinity – the San Francisco Giants, 49ers and San Jose Sharks. We did it. We’re in the conference finals for the first time. And, we did it in the most sweet way possible, beating the hated Avs – yes, Colorado, there are people who hate your team with the fire and passion of a thousand suns, myself included – in the Pepsi Center.
Sure, we made it a little exciting in Games 4 and 5, but we’re still skating and the Avalanche are headed for the golf course thoroughly beaten by the superior Sharks. I’m sure any of the valley’s golf courses would be glad to organize a group outing for Joe Sakic and company.
Some thoughts on the Western Conference semis:
n Abby was good. Nabby was great. David Aebischer had a very solid series and some day may make for a Stanley Cup goalie. But Evgeni Nabokov played out of his mind, as he has been playing all season. How he is not a Vezina finalist – it’s because the Sharks play on the West Coast – is beyond explanation. Nabby’s 8-3 with a 1.44 goals-against average and 94.9 save percentage in the first two rounds.
n New drinking game – not that we advocate drinking at the Vail Daily: Every time ESPN’s Darren Pang says some variation of, “Holy jumpers,” you take a shot of your favorite spirit. You’ll be on the floor by the middle of the second period.
n A unit which deserves a “holy jumping-worth” of praise is the San Jose defense As Bill Clement said throughout the Game 6 telecast, San Jose’s defense is the most underrated unit in the NHL. (By the way, you can use underrated for your drinking game, if you like.) Bravo to Brad Stuart, Scott Hannan, Kyle McLaren, Mike Rathje, Tom Preissing and Jason Marshall. Sure, Nabokov was great, but there were a whole lot of shots which never got to him thanks to that sextet. Colorado scored no more than two goals in a game.
n Have we had a Teemu Selanne sighting? Just asking. The Finnish Flash proved his lack of playoff mettle again.
n Speaking of mettle, is there more of a clutch player in the game than Sakic? He single-handedly made this is series. A definite tip of the teal cap to Captain Joe. Sharks fans will have repeated nightmares about Sakic, as Avs fans will about Vinny Damphousse.
n Peter Forsberg is also one of the greats of this game, but his flopping is just embarrassing. It’s demeaning to his skills. He’s too good of a player to be acting like that. Along those lines, notice how the Sharks got under his skin and took him off his game. There was no repeat of his heroics in 2002.
n What happened to the Avs’ power play? Two goals in six games? The boys from the Bay were aces on the PK.
n Another reason San Jose is still playing is teamwork. You can assemble a fantasy hockey team adding Selanne and Paul Kariya to Forsberg and Sakic, but they have to be on the same page. The Avs weren’t and the Sharks were. That’s a credit to Sharks coach Ron Wilson.
n Speaking of coaches, is it time for Tony Granato to update his resume?
n Injuries: No whining here, people. Yes, Rob Blake, Paul Kariya and Alex Tanguay were out. But the Sharks were without Marco Sturm, Scott Thornton and Allyn McCaulley. Injuries are a part of the playoffs. It’s the team that overcomes these obstacles that hoists the greatest trophy in sports.
n It also doesn’t hurt to have some depth, which the Sharks had. Atta boy, Marcel Goc. Don’t worry. I hadn’t heard of him either.
n It also comes down to the fans. Avs fans are just flat-out spoiled. Denver inherited a winner and hasn’t known anything since. To be a real fan, you’ve got to go through the hard times as well as the good ones. This is so special for Teal Nation because we have gone through some dreadful winters and some agonizing playoff losses. In San Jose, we don’t assume a playoff spot or a division title is a birthright. Being in the playoffs is not a ho-hum experience. We’re savoring every moment of this. We deserve this.
n Finally, a shout-out to everybody on the Sharks mailing list run by Chuq Von Rospach and Laurie Sefton on http://www.plaidworks.com back in the Bay Area. Keep enjoying the ride, people. Flame on.
Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Please do not slash his tires for bleeding teal. He can be contacted by calling (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.