A Retrospective Look at the NHL Western Conference Finals & Kent Huskins

When Kevin Bieksa of the Vancouver Canucks scored the series winning goal in game 5 of last year’s Western Conference Finals, I found myself not nearly as disappointed as I could have been. I mean, this was the second year in a row the San Jose Sharks had made it to the final four, and the second year in a row they strung me along like a clingy, dependent girlfriend only to let me down…again. A true fan would be distraught by that point right? Especially a fan like me who has heart palpitations during regular season hockey games, this surely should have induced a stroke of some sort. But zilch, nada, nothing.

Maybe it was because the Sharks played a damn good game. I don’t remember any truly egregious errors (except for letting Ryan Kesler tie it up with :30 second left in the game, which I guess is a pretty big deal). But I do remember prior to the goal, there was an incorrectly called icing on Dan Boyle, which ended up being hugely significant. Other than that, I was not disappointed in their game play. I’m one of those fans that has no has less of a problem with losing if the team I’m cheering for gives 100%. I just wish they had played like that through the first 4 games of the series.

Maybe it was because it was a fluke goal. No one knew where the puck was except for Bieksa. It bounced off the stanchion, somehow miraculously stayed in the zone, and even more miraculously bounced straight to Bieksa who slapped the puck straight to the net to win the game. Because of the circumstances of the elimination, maybe in my mind I didn’t consider it a legit win. And maybe because the Canucks ended up eventually losing to the Boston Bruins in the Finals, I felt it was some sort of crazy karmic retribution (although I was cheering for them because seriously, fuck Boston sports teams). And I thoroughly enjoyed watching Milan Lucic do this. And this kind of non-linear thinking logic is exactly why I’m able to move on so easily.

Maybe it was because Kent Huskins was in the line-up that I conceded the series before it even started. Yeah, that’s it.

That last sentence is kind of a joke, but not really. He actually did a decent job considering that was his first time playing in about 2 months, but decent was relative when it came to Huskins — although he has two goals already this year (that’s not a joke). I also wasn’t joking when I said a one-legged Jason Demers was better than a healthy Kent Huskins (although he could have fooled me considering he’s a -4 to start this season, good for worst on the team). Demers was playing great before he injured his ankle in game 7 of the epic second round series with the Detroit Red Wings. It was a second round series that nearly killed me.

Forgive me, my Shark fan brethren, but the moment they went up 3-0, I was one of those irresponsible idiots who contributed to the jinx by saying “LET’S SWEEP!“. This series not only caused my life to flash before my eyes (last minute of game 7 was a blur, I think I blacked out — the 5 pints of beer had absolutely nothing to do with it) but it also allowed me to come to the realization that maybe this wasn’t the year for them to go all the way. There were too many gaping holes in the roster that the Wings exposed. They were also practically the hockey version of the walking dead with all the injuries piling up, and their next opponent, the Canucks, were rested and let’s face it, they were a better team.

The Sharks meet the Red Wings for the first time of the season tomorrow night at The Joe. A game which Sharks broadcasters Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda dubbed a circled-game, a game circled on each team’s calendars to signify its importance*.

*November 26th is probably the biggest circled-game for the Sharks and their fans. And guess who has tickets to it?

I was a big Ian White supporter for the half-season he was in teal, and I was an even bigger fan of re-signing him, so it’s going to be tough to see him in the opposing sweater. I’m also a big Pavel Datsyuk fan. He’s definitely one of my favorite non-Sharks, but then again, it’s damn near impossible for anyone to not like him. He’s amazing.

The game should be good entertainment-wise, but a game this early in the season probably won’t mean much in the bigger scheme of things. The Wings will be fired up, but I’m sure the Sharks are just as eager to prove that they still own the Red Wings. In fact, after a 3-game slide, they’re a perfect 3-0 on this 6-game road trip (beating the Stanley Cup Champiars along the way), and it appears the Sharks are looking to prove they own the entire league this season.

Here’s to hoping.

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