I love the game of basketball through and through, but as we enter this time where I know my eyes will be popping blood vessels because of playoff ball watching, I will be jumping over to the playoffs on ice as well. Being Canadian, it was inevitable I watched playoff hockey growing up and there’s no denying how great the game is in the postseason. The crowds, the intense physical battles, and the tight quarters guys have to get through mean every little event is that much more important. A big part of it for me is how rugged the 60 minutes of action are; there’s just no way things can’t get tense when two teams are nose-to-nose for that long. Joe Thornton has played in 70 of these post season games and by the sound of this interview, he liked those match-ups very much. It seemed as those he had a perma-smirk, looking forward to game one against the Ducks Thursday night. Joe Thornton joined Ralph Barbieri and Tom Tolbert on KNBR to discuss the hatred San Jose and Anaheim share, how losing at the end of the regular season will affect the Sharks, and how his Head Coach changed his game.
On the Ducks-Sharks rivalry:
“We just don’t like each other from the get go. We played eight times against each other for two years there, and now six times this year. I don’t know what it is, it’s just both teams are big and strong and fairly aggressive. Playing each other a lot and both teams being big and strong, they tend to clash… They know we don’t like them and we know they don’t like us, it’s gonna be awesome… It’s the first all-California playoff series, and there’s no love loss between both teams. Both teams don’t like each other and it’s gonna be one heck of a series, I can’t wait for it to start.”
On how losing at the end of the regular season will affect the Sharks:
“It doesn’t scare me at all losing the past couple games. Last year, we went 20-something and zero (they didn’t lose in March), and we lost the first game against Calgary, we ended up winning that series but we got off to a slow start. I’m not afraid, I think this team’s ready to go and we’re excited for this next season to start.”
Whether or not it was difficult allowing Head Coach Todd McLellan to change his game:
“Not really… It was the first day in training camp and he just showed me some clips and said, ‘You’re not gonna win playing like this. You gotta get in front of the net, drive the net a little bit more, get off the half-wall, and create some more things in front of the net.’ So, really it was an easy transition for me ’cause he just won the Cup the previous year, so, the man knows what he’s talking about. So, for me, I know what I gotta do, I had to tweak my game a little bit, but it’s all for the better.”