Who'd have thunk it?

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:43 PM ET

 SAN JOSE -- Oh sure, Todd Harvey would love to bend the truth a little.

 You bet the San Jose Sharks forward wouldn't mind spinning a yarn about how he knew the Sharks would rebound from last year's disastrous season.

  About how he knew they'd be back on top, winning a division title, going deep into the playoffs and again being a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.

 Bless him for his honesty, Harvey can't.

 "The way last year ended, I didn't see this coming," he admitted yesterday.

 "The way we started wasn't great either.

 "It was a tough October and then we started to turn it around in November.

 "But once the ball started rolling, it got pretty big.

 "Now we've got it at the top of the hill and need to push it over."

 It'll be Harvey's old coach, a man he's been close to for years, who'll be crushed by that ball if things go his way.

 After all, it's Darryl Sutter and the Flames standing in Harvey's way of a trip to the Stanley Cup final. And Harvey is trying to do the same as Sutter.

 "It doesn't really matter," said the veteran winger. "He's just trying to play it down and that's the right thing to do.

 "This is about going further."

 Certainly further than pretty much anybody expected either the Flames or Sharks to go.

 The Flames are this spring's biggest surprise, having gone from being outside the playoffs for seven seasons but now making it within four wins of a trip to the final.

 Hosting the series when it begins tomorrow afternoon will be a Sharks squad that was Cup contenders at the start of last season but struggled out of the blocks.

 Those struggles cost Sutter his head coaching job while the Sharks fell to near the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

 In a sense, Harvey said, that experience is making this year's run that much more rewarding.

 "Everybody came into the season not really sure what was going to happen," he said.

 "A lot of guys were given roles they hadn't had before but they've excelled.

 "Look at Vinny (Damphousse). His ice time was reduced but he's responded with a great season and playoffs. He's playing like he's 20 again."

 Harvey even went through his own turmoil.

 Instead of being looked to for a big impact with a young team that was trying to make it back to the top of the heap, he was on the outside at the beginning of the season, exposed for the waiver draft and eventually sent for a stint in the minors.

 Now, he's as close to a Cup as ever.

 "Things happen for a reason," he said.

 "No one likes to be sent down but I played a ton and found my game again. It was a tough pill to swallow but I did and it was worth it."

 This series will also bring another old friend into the Silicon Valley, goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, who was also found expendable by the Sharks only to gain hero status in the Stampede City.

 What remains to be seen is who has the advantage, the goalie whose weaknesses are known or the players whose moves he spent years up against.

 "He knows all my moves," Harvey said with a laugh.

 "I don't have any moves, so he's got that advantage."


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