Usually I’m taking up for the NHL and hoping their popularity grows. Tonight, I’m relieved hockey’s not as big in the U.S. as some other sports. Had hockey been more popular nationwide, Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle might have befallen the same fate as Andres Escobar. Dan Boyle was trying to clear a puck about a minute into overtime of Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup between the Sharks and Avalanche. Unfortunately Boyle cleared the puck straight into his own net, past goalie Evgeni Nabokov. Here’s the video of Dan Boyle’s goal scored on his own net against the Avalanche. Just skip ahead about a minute.
That play is a microcosm of San Jose’s playoff struggles. Despite putting together strong regular seasons, the Sharks have tended to disappoint in the playoffs the last five seasons. Back in ’03-’04 the Sharks actually made the Western Conference Finals before losing to the Flames. The following three years they lost in the Western Conference Semis. Last year marked the ultimate disappointment when the Sharks won the Presidents’ Trophy but lost in the first round to the Ducks. They’re the top seed in the conference for the second straight year and in danger of losing in the first round once again thanks to this blunder. Making matters worse is the Sharks absolutely dominated this game but couldn’t put it away. I’m just happy hockey isn’t more popular otherwise Boyle would be completely ostracized.