I have to say, with all due respect to Caps fans, I would rather lose like we did, than lose an absolutely heartbreaking game in OT... at home. Yeah, we all hope for a good game, but a good game means a close game and those are so much harder to get over.
But what makes this pill easier to handle is to watch the way the Sharks handled themselves after the game, in the handshakes and in front of the media.
Watching the CBC broadcast and the anti-Flame rhetoric (i still don't understand why it's like that) going on all night, it took the Sharks players themselves to just bring up how good the Flames played in the series and that they deserved credit too. Craig Simpson, Mark Lee and Steve Armitage were so busy fawning over Joe Thornton that they forgot the other team was the Canadian team and that they are a publicly funded broadcaster. I thoroughly enjoyed when the CBC lost their feed and they switched to Versus, which is crazy, I know...
Anders Eriksson. Do I even need to write anything other than that. If you go back in the archives of my blog's you will find several regarding my feelings towards the Swedish defenseman. Inlcuded in that was a tally where I was keeping track of how many of his gaffs led to Flames losing points in the standings. So Eriksson gave us a nice bookend to the season... think back.
Eriksson coughed up the puck on opening night in Cowtown to Daniel Breire who proceeded to bury the game-winning goal. It was a sign of things to come, and after I saw Eriksson cost us in excess of about 8-12 points in the standings all by his lonesome I thought we wouldn't have to put up with him in the playoffs. To my dismay, he was in the lineup tonight... I started preparing for the loss right then. Brutal penalty led to the first goal, and a horrific clearing attempt set up JR for his second goal, which Kipper may have still saw had Eriksson not recovered quick enough to park his butt right directly in Kipper's view of the puck.
Kipper should have been pulled after the second goal. It was clear his head wasn't in the game. I thought he couldn't let in a worse goal than he did in game 2, he showed himself up.
I hope we haven't seen the last of Owen Nolan. And I'm not just saying in a Flames uniform, obviously I want him back for next season... but if he's not, I still hope he doesn't retire.
Good luck to the Sharks the rest of the way. They were my original pick to represent the West, which I since rescinded and replaced with the Wings. However, if it ends up being a Sharks/Wings semi... I give the upper hand to the Sharks, they showed a lot of poise in never backing down when their backs were to the wall in this series, something we hadn't seen from them before and have never seen from the Wings. Dallas is a good draw for them as they won't be able to hit them like the Flames did. Nabokov is playing well enough to get this team to the Finals.
Just to elaborate on the class thing... watching that handshake line, even after a loss, was awesome. To watch these men shake hands and look each other in the eye and pat on the chest is why we love these teams and our players so much. To see them give such respect to Owen Nolan and to Jarome Iginla and even Joe Thornton singling out Dion to give him some words and a pat. Simply amazing. Martin Brodeur may win 3 more Vezina's before he retires, but he'll never have the class that the players on the ice showed us tonight and for that, Flames and Sharks fans can be very thankful.
Are we Proud?