The showdown between the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks was rough, tough, tightly played and anybody's game to win for most of last night's battle. The same goes for this heavyweight showdown between George Parros and Jody Shelley, as the resident pugilists for the Ducks and Sharks dropped gloves late in the first period:
"Shelley! Shelley!" Gotta love when the crowd chants for the hometown fighter. We weren't exactly the biggest Tie Domi fans, but there was something really special when a crowd in New York or Toronto would chant "Domi" after he'd throw down with an opponent.
This is actually the third time these two have squared off this season: Shelley won the first bout in the preseason, cutting Parros in the process; they also battled to a dreary draw in October. The fickle fight fans of HockeyFights.com are calling this latest edition a draw so far, with Shelley having a slight advantage over Parros in individual voting.
In the Orange County Register, various Anaheim personnel talked about the fact that the Ducks played the previous night while San Jose was off since Saturday; that their effort only picked up later in the game; and offered some comments about the late-game ugliness that saw Rob Blake go off for spearing and Scott Niedermayer and Milan Michalek go off for rare misconduct penalties.
Here's how San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ray Ratto saw the game:
This was, in short, a game played more to Anaheim's pace than San Jose's. The Sharks, though, got more bang for their buck - something to remember for about a minute if the two teams meet in the postseason, something for which we can all fervently hope.
And why? Because, in the immortal words of that grand old French philosopher Ric Flair, to be the man, you got to beat the man. And while the Sharks look like the man now, the Ducks have actually been the man, and in the National Hockey League, you're judged by the company you thump. Especially in the spring.
Too true. You hate to keep harping on this when a team is an incredible 23-3-2 and is five opponents' goals away from leading the NHL in scoring and defense, but they're still the San Jose Sharks. The team without a Cup. The team with one conference finals appearance since 1991. The team for whom regular season promise almost habitually becomes postseason betrayal.
That pervading cynicism is preventing a lot of fans from really embracing this team as the steamroller it is; which is a shame because the NHL needs another juggernaut besides the Detroit Red Wings to measure its glamour teams against in high-profile matchups.
But getting back to Ratto's point: San Jose vs. Anaheim in the postseason. Yes, please.