Jon Quick

Five thoughts: How you stop worrying about shutouts and love the playoffs

Yesterday’s games provided lots to chew on for fans in Philadelphia, Boston, and San Jose and what they’re chewing on doesn’t exactly taste all that great. As for those of you worrying about how this might be the “playoffs of the goaltender,” get off that ledge and come back inside… We swear it’s not a trap.

1. While the Coyotes comeback against Detroit fell short, don’t think that it won’t have an effect on them heading into Game 3. The momentum they gathered in that big third period is the sort of thing that can carry over to the next game. Bank on the Shane Doan having his tean come out fast and pumped up in Game 3. The Wings will have to weather that storm, but the Coyotes are in a desperate way now. The team won’t talk about it, but you’d better believe the stuff going on off the ice with the team and the rampant Winnipeg rumors will serve as a motivation at home. At least it should.

2. I know the Flyers are happy about getting the 5-4 win over Buffalo to tie their series with the Sabres up, but the one issue that could cause distractions is back and in a big way. Goaltending was a major worry for many concerning Philly but after Sergei Bobrovsky’s great play in losing Game 1 it seemed like they made the right choice. That is until Bobrovsky gave up three goals on seven shots just over 12 minutes into the first period of Game 2. Out went Bob and in came Brian Boucher who closed the door and let the Flyers settle down and take over.

Now coach Peter Laviolette isn’t saying yet who will start Game 3 and everyone’s dying to know which way he’ll go. It’s not an official postseason in Philly without discussing goaltending issues and now they’ve got a big one. Just imagine the hysterics if Michael Leighton finds a way to get into the mix.

3. What a mess for Boston. It’s not just that they’ve lost the first two games against Montreal, it’s that they’ve done it in highly uninspiring fashion. The Habs are silencing their offense with defensive mastery and shot blocking intensity. Meanwhile, they’re not playing the imposing physical game they’re known for and to top it all off, Tim Thomas looked rough allowing rebounds to get all over the place for Habs attackers to pounce on.

Making matters even worse is that the team looked lost without Zdeno Chara in the lineup in Game 2. Boston can certainly come back in this series and playing in front of a rabid crowd in Montreal should be all the motivation they need, but if they continue to wilt, they’re in big, big trouble.

4. Right when you think the Sharks are set to prove themselves in the playoffs, games like last night happen and blow it all up. The Sharks were reticent to go after the Kings on the point on the power play and giving talented guys like Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty room to shoot is playing with fire and the Sharks got burned badly. The Sharks are realizing very quickly that despite the Kings being without their best player, they’re not going away without making San Jose earn it. The Kings play great at home and Game 3 becomes crucial for San Jose if they want to go deep into the playoffs.

5. Some fans are getting nervous about the number of shutouts we’ve seen already. Some fans think we’re careening towards another “trap era” with no scoring. Hang on a second. After Jon Quick’s shutout last night, we’ve seen six shutouts in the first 16 games of the playoffs. Of all the games we’ve seen, all 16 of them, only one of them being truly boring (Game 1 between Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay). The other games have been played at a frantic pace with great up and down play. While you might be seeing fewer goals scored, this isn’t your obstruction fest from the late 90s and early 2000s. Guys are skating free, able to get shots away, and they’re playing with desperation. What more could you want? It’s the playoffs gang, enjoy them.

Stanley Cup Final referees: McCauley, O’Halloran, O’Rourke, Sutherland

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Referee Dan O'Halloran #13 holds up a face-off between the Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators during their NHL game at First Niagara Center on December 13, 2011 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Dave Sandford Getty Images)
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From the NHL:

refs

Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.

Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.

After advancing to Cup final, DeBoer had Sharks fans coming up to him with ‘tears in their eyes’

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 29: Head coach Peter DeBoer addresses the media during the NHL Stanley Cup Final Media Day at Consol Energy Center on May 29, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH — When Pete DeBoer was hired to coach the San Jose Sharks, he wasn’t totally cognizant of how much heartbreak the fan base had experienced throughout the years.

Now he knows.

“First year in the community, I didn’t realize kind of the baggage that was carried around,” DeBoer said this morning ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Twenty-five-year season-ticket holders coming up to you with tears in their eyes and crying.”

The Sharks, of course, have never been this far in the playoffs. Prior to this year, they’d made it three times to the Western Conference Final, losing each time.

More painful were the first-round exits. Like in 2009 when they won the Presidents’ Trophy and got knocked out by the Ducks, and two years ago when they led the Kings 3-0 before dropping four straight.

It was only after the Sharks beat the Blues that DeBoer fully realized the “gravity of what they’ve been through” as fans in San Jose, and “how important this is to them.”

Not that he’s satisfied with getting this far.

“The business at hand now is to get off on the right foot, plant the right seeds for this series, impose our game,” he said. “Every series is the same — it’s whatever team can impose their game on the other team the quickest and for the longest. That’s our goal here tonight.”

Related: For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot

Kopitar will play for Slovenia in Olympic qualifiers

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13: Anze Kopitar #11 of Slovenia skates against Russia during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game on day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar will spend part of his offseason trying to help Slovenia qualify for the Olympics.

RTV Slovenia has the story here.

The qualification games will be played September 1-4 in Minsk. Slovenia is in a group with Belarus, Denmark and Poland. The winner of the group will qualify for the Olympics.

The NHL reportedly has no issue with Kopitar’s participation, even though the league has yet to commit to sending its players to Pyeongchang.

Slovenia made its Olympic debut in ice hockey at the 2014 Games in Sochi.

Kopitar will also represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup later in September.

Related: Slovenia beats Slovakia for historic win

Zubrus in, Nieto likely out for Sharks in Stanley Cup Final opener

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 15:  Dainius Zubrus #9 of the San Jose Sharks skates against Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues in Game One of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 15, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH — Matt Nieto is healthy, and ready to go.

But it doesn’t look like he’ll go tonight.

The San Jose Sharks are unlikely to make any lineup changes for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh — at Monday’s optional morning skate, Nieto stayed out late with the extras while the guy he’d (presumably) replace in the lineup, Dainius Zubrus, told NHL.com he was in.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer wouldn’t reveal any lineup decisions during his morning media availability, instead talking up both Nieto (for his speed) and Zubrus (for his “heavy” game), adding he liked the versatility the two give the club on a night-by-night basis.

Nieto suffered an upper-body injury in Game 6 of the Nashville series, and missed all of the Western Conference Final.

Prior to getting hurt, he had three points in 11 games — this after a regular season in which he scored eight goals and 17 points in 67 games.