A Fan of the Game

Sports Talk, Straight Talk

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 64

Quite the oh well game tonight as the Sharks lost to the Buffalo Sabres 3-1. The Olympics are going on already, and the game just seemed pretty worthless. The Sharks played like it too.

The defense was terrible tonight. Mistakes galore keying all three Sabres goals. Dan Boyle turned it over in his own zone a few times, and Rob Blake had some bad turnovers as well.

The Sharks power play was disgustingly bad, not getting much opportunities at all.

Heatley shows us a survival technique for games that don't matter. (From SJSHARKS.com)

Again, this game was just blah. Too many other things going on to really put a lot of emotion into this one. The Sharks watched the opening ceremonies last night, so I’m sure that made the apathy worse for tonight. I don’t blame them. Hockey shouldn’t be played right now — NHL-wise. It should have ended by Friday.

Kent Huskins was the lone Shark scorer. You know nobody cares when that happens.

That’s all I have to say about the game.

Traded

San Jose traded Jody Shelley to the Rangers for a 2011 conditional sixth round pick. I don’t see the point of this move. Well, I guess it’s to stop the Worcester shuttle. Shelley only made $725,000, so the moves are limited. But I was thinking maybe that was all that needed to be moved to make a bigger move after the Olympic break. Time will tell. I’ll miss Jody. He was a good guy and always had funny things to say.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 15  BUF 21; Niclas Wallin led with three.

It’s break time! Two weeks of Olympics. Good luck to all the Olympians. I’ll be taking a break as well. See you guys in a fortnight.

–Ray

February 14, 2010 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 63

Quite the weight-off-the-shoulders game for the Sharks as they finally defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout. Detroit still wins the series 3-0-1, but the importance of this victory can’t be overstated enough.

Let’s be honest here. Detroit is going to make the playoffs. Yes they’re ninth right now, but come on, it’s Detroit. They will slide into the playoffs and maybe even go on a tear to claim the fifth or sixth spot. Regardless, they are a potential first-round matchup for the Sharks, and losing all four games to Detroit would have been catastrophic. The team already lacks confidence against the Wings as is, and losing here would have surely meant a first-round sweep had they met.

The victory didn’t come without fierce battling and lots of physicality. Detroit didn’t want to give up his undefeated streak against the Sharks so easy. How about 52 shots peppered on Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov. Nabby stopped 50 of them. He’s the sole reason why the Sharks won this game. Sensing a trend lately?

Despite getting shutout last night, coach Todd McLellan decided to keep the same players on the ice for the game. Ryane Clowe was extra feisty tonight. Within the first five minutes, he was up in people’s grills looking for something. He found it in the third when he and Jonathan Ericsson decided to tango. Ericsson caught him early, but Clowe finished with some power hooks, an uppercut and a takedown.

The Sharks scored their only two goals in the first period. Joe Thornton got on the board 25 seconds after Detroit took a 1-0 lead. Niclas Wallin got his first point as a Shark on Thornton’s goal.

Dwight Helminen once again played extremely well. He notched his first goal as a Shark, NHL 10 style: Torrey Mitchell stopped behind the net, skated out, passed across ice for Helminen who one-timed it in the open net. It’s his second career goal, and here’s some food for thought: Wallin assisted on Helminen’s first goal when they were both in Carolina. That goal was way back on November 2, 2008.

Johan, I'm constipated. Punch me in the gut to force it out. (From SJSHARKS.com)

Detroit controlled the second period, and they controlled the third period by tying the game with seven minutes left in regulation.

So we head into overtime. Oh prevent offense, how I have missed thee. The Sharks took their prevent offense to another level by taking a penalty with two minutes to go. By some divine intervention they were able to kill it off.

In the shootout, Nabby stonewalled all three Detroit shooters. Patrick Marleau, the Sharks’ third shooter, won it.

How sweet it is. My health has deteriorated throughout today, so this was a great temporary remedy to the constant sniffing and overall feeling of crap.

Mickey Redmond – the worst analyst in hockey

If you’re unlucky enough to get a Detroit broadcast, listen to this guy talk. How many things can he get wrong? Let me count the ways:

1. Saying Jimmy Howard made save of the first period when clearly Nabby’s sprawling blocker was.

2. Calling for interference when there was nothing there.

3. Saying Thornton should continue playing with no emotion and should not play angry.

4. Stealing Darren Pang’s phrase, “Holy jumpin’!”

5. Called Kent Huskins, Huselius for five minutes.

6. Saying Rob Blake takes a lot of shootouts for the Sharks (I don’t think he’s taken one).

7. If he says “look out” one more time, I will go off.

Obviously he only has this job because of his past playing in a Red Wing uniform. Shame. Someone else agreed with me too. Check out the #22 comment on David Pollak’s blog.

Stat Pack

Nabby has the worst winning percentage against Detroit since 1980. With this win he’s now 8-17-0-2 against them. Terrible.

The Sharks lost the faceoff battle 51%-49%. I think they’ve lost it a couple times against Detroit. I don’t understand how they can be so dominant in the circle, but lose faceoffs to a team who isn’t that great at them time after time.

San Jose led in all four Detroit games, only garnering one win.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 26  DET 34; Scott Nichol led with five.

Thornton started getting angry at Detroit when Datsyuk and Cleary kept being annoying pests. He threw Cleary down with one arm, which was hilarious. Need to see more of that, but we won’t.

San Jose goes to Buffalo for a game with the Sabres on Saturday. It’s the last game before the Olympic break.

–Ray

February 12, 2010 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 62

Quite the feeble effort from the Sharks tonight as they lost to the Blue Jackets 3-0. It’s the first time the Sharks were shut out by a team in regulation since Dec. 18, 2008 against Detroit.

San Jose didn’t come to play until 10 minutes left in the third period. The shots are deceiving — 40-21 for San Jose. Very few of those shots had chances to go in except for a few late in the game.

The Sharks have been playing sub-par lately and this could be all that bad play adding up into one poor game. Columbus came out skating really fast and winning battles, while the Sharks were content to let goalie Thomas Greiss save them. He didn’t play too bad, but he’s certainly not at the level to steal games at will.

Most Sharks shots were with no traffic in front of net, giving an already-hot goalie in Steve Mason, confidence. Mason used that too his advantage in this third to put on a spectacular show of skill, notching his second consecutive shutout.

I think the Blue Jackets have a great coach in the making with Claude Noel. During an in-game interview he asked the broadcast guys if they were enjoying the game as much as him and ended the conversation by saying “a lot of love.” Cool guy. Hope he does well.

Newcomers Niclas Wallin and Dwight Helminen were arguably the best players on the ice, especially Helminen. When all seemed bleak, I saw Helminen zipping around the ice trying to make plays and setting up guys for chances. He finished with five hits and one blocked shot in 12 minutes of ice time.

Seto enjoying his favorite game: invisible leap frog! (From SJSHARKS.com)

Wallin, like Helminen, was one of the few Sharks who stayed even (+/-) for the game. He amassed four shots, missed another three and blocked one.

That’s pretty much all there is to say. Maybe it’s my newly acquired cold/sinus infection, but the game was noneventful from the Sharks perspective. I’ll leave it at that.

Giveaways

The Blue Jackets announcers noted the Sharks are fifth in giveaways. That sounds about right, but the Sharks actually had zero giveaways for the game. Is that probably from the way Columbus people score giveaways? Probably since Columbus only had four. Each arena scores hits, giveaways, etc. differently, but still — seeing a zero in that column is like seeing Kate Beckinsale and Carrie Underwood wake up on either side of you.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 22  CBJ 36: Helminen led with five.

The Sharks travel to Detroit for the back-end of their back-to-back. Evgeni Nabokov will get the start in net.

–Ray

February 11, 2010 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 61

Quite the Whac-A-Mole game for the Sharks has they pounded the Toronto Maple Leafs back into the the NHL cellar with a 3-2 win. It wasn’t pretty, but the Sharks did enough to withstand the newly energized Leafs.

The game felt like a Western Conference game. It’s always nice to watch the Sharks play Eastern Conference teams since we never see those players. But with the Leafs’ additions of Dion Phaneuf and Jean-Sebastien Giguere, along with Francois Beauchemin, it was like facing the Ducks or Flames.

Astonishingly, Giguere recorded two shutouts in his first two games as a Maple Leaf. After the first period, the streak was still in tact. Toronto led 1-0 at the first break after completely controlling most of the period. Phanuef was throwing his weight around on Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley. The Leafs were skating and made the Sharks look very lethargic.

Jody Shelley tried his best to get some emotions going. He dropped the gloves with Toronto tough guy Colton Orr, and Shelley KO’d him with a right. You don’t see that too often — Orr getting dropped or Shelley KO’ing someone. So you might want to favorite that video on YouTube.

Right after was when Toronto notched their first goal. Rob Blake turned the puck over behind the net, and a cross-crease pass found Tyler Bozak’s stick.

The Leafs continued the pressure briefly in the second before the Sharks whacked their first mole. Dan Boyle shot a wrist shot change-up to beat Giguere. Yep, Boyle’s back.

Two minutes later Joe Pavelski wristed one past Giggy, and yet another mole was whacked to oblivion.

All right, Colton. This is going to be a one-shot KO. Jersey Shore Ronnie style. (From SJSHARKS.com)

Brad Staubitz sought redemption against Garnet Exelby for a knee-to-knee hit earlier in the game. The two danced, and it was a close fight. Both fighters landed some punches, and Staubitz claimed the takedown.

The Leafs would score in the last minute of the second to tie the game back up. Curse those relentless moles for popping up.

Remember last game when I gave you the statistic which read the Sharks are 10-0 in games with multiple fights. Well, make that 11-0. Ryane Clowe buried the puck with seven minutes left to give the good guys the win.

Nab-credible

Once again, Mr. Evgeni Nabokov did his best brick wall impersonation, making key save after key save. You just can’t say enough about how great he’s been this year. We’ll have to wait until April to see if he gives the Sharks the real bang for their buck, but if this season is any indication, the Sharks will be living well come postseason.

Welcome Wallin and Helminen!

Newly acquired Niclas Wallin made his debut in the #7 sweater tonight and played as advertised. He didn’t make any mistakes and finished with a +1 rating in 17:03 of ice time. He also recorded one shot, one blocked shot and one hit.

Dwight Helminen was called up for the first time as a Shark. I didn’t hear his name called much, though. He put in nine minutes of work and struggled in the faceoff circle going 1-4.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 26  TOR 34; Scott Nichol led with four.

The Sharks visit the reeling Blue Jackets on Wednesday. It’s the front end of a back-to-back — Columbus and Detroit.

–Ray

February 9, 2010 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 60

Quite the Nab-tacular performance for the Sharks as they beat the Nashville Predators 4-3. There was no doubt goalie Evgeni Nabokov was the most spectacular player on the ice. He made 35 saves in the victory.

The Sharks were sloppy all night with their puck management, continuing to struggle with giveaways. These weren’t just harmless neutral zone giveaways — these were giveaways right in front of Nabokov. I don’t know how Nabby made some of the saves he did, but all the guys should treat him out to a week of meals and the finest Russian vodka you can find.

Dan Boyle made his return and showed no signs of rust. Coach Todd McLellan kept Derek Joslin up as a seventh defenseman just in case Boyle struggled. He didn’t and Boyle played nearly 20 minutes (19:10).

Despite the turnovers, Nashville couldn’t put the Sharks away. The Preds took the lead three times, and each time the Sharks came back to tie it.

Dany Heatley scored two power play goals and now leads the NHL in goals on the man advantage with 14. That means almost half of Heater’s goals come on the power play. I don’t know what to say about that. Should it be a concern he needs opponents to be shorthanded to score? I don’t think so now that I think about it. That’s actually pretty good. Keep him on the ice for the full two minutes now. Ha.

I'm picturing myself giving the 21 gun salute. (From SJSHARKS.com)

Brad Staubitz and Rob Blake were the other goal-scorers. Blake’s marker put him ahead of Doug Wilson on the all-time goals for defenseman list.

Sharks commentator Randy Hahn threw out an interesting statistic last night. Prior to the game, Nashville was 10-0 when Joel Ward scored a goal, and the Sharks were 9-0 when they have multiple fights in a game. Guess what? Both happened and the Sharks improve to 10-0 with more than one boxing match.

Unfortunately, both fights were Jody Shelley getting railed on by Wade Belak. It was ugly. Shelley wasn’t throwing — just hanging on. Oh well. It worked in the bigger picture.

Airheads

Nashville fans talk a lot of smack for no apparent reason. They use the “you suck” chants more than any other team. Why? Your team is the face of perennial mediocrity. Instead of insulting opponents, maybe you should insult your own team for blowing leads.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 17  NSH 20; Scott Nichol led with four.

The Sharks travel to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs, Monday. It won’t be entirely different from playing the Western Conference now that Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Dion Phaneuf are there.

–Ray

February 7, 2010 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 59

Quite the Jesus-Greiss-saves game for the Sharks as they defeated the St. Louis Blues, 4-2. Greiss was the man with the plan stopping 35 shots en route to the victory.

Greiss’ patented flailing was toned down tonight — perhaps a good sign — and he looked comfortable in net. That could be for Team Germany’s scouts looking to solidify their starting goaltender for the Olympics. Whatever it is, I hope it continues. Greiss will probably get one or two more starts these next five games to give Evgeni Nabokov extra rest.

The Blues weren’t joking around tonight. They were getting shots through, putting lots of traffic in front of the net, throwing their weight around and skating fast. Those things made it extra tough on the Sharks depleted defense who were once again without Dan Boyle and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

So much for Boyle ever being day-to-day. I remember the good ole days where he was only supposed to miss one game. What a sham!

As for the Sharks skaters tonight, they were OK. Patrick Marleau scored 21 seconds into the game after a feed from Joe Thornton.

Ryane Clowe increased the lead to two goals seven minutes later, and it was another early two-goal lead. The Blues rallied two minutes after Clowe’s goal. At that point, I’m thinking, “Here we go again. Just like last game against Detroit.” Those thoughts almost came to fruition several times. The Blues controlled the play and dominated for a good twenty minutes.

D.J., if you skate by me, prepare for urination. Just sayin'. (From SJSHARKS.com)

That brings us to halfway through the second period. The Blues were outshooting the Sharks 8-2 the first half of the second period. San Jose slowly started to get their feet under them. The legs started churning, the pucks started getting deep and whaddaya know? A goal comes about. Devin Setoguchi scored on the power play, swinging the momentum back to the Sharks.

Fortunately, the Sharks withstood a Blues comeback in the third. Scott Nichol sealed the deal with a slapshot.

I guess I should have kept the expectations a bit lower since this was the first game of a long road trip. The Blues have been a mosquito to the Sharks, so I’ll give them dap for swatting them.

Niclas Wallin

The Sharks rumor mill is churning with rumors of Niclas Wallin coming to San Jose within the next 24 hours. What the deal could be has varied. I’ve seen Wallin or a second round pick. I’ve seen Wallin for Jody Shelley and Derek Joslin. Apparently Carolina is gaga over Joslin. Maybe the Canes enjoy public urination and see Joslin as a centerpiece for that fetish. Who knows, but I hope the Sharks don’t give up too much. If they do, Ray Whitney better come over too.

Not Everyone is Like You

So I was visiting ChompBoard.com — a Sharks forum, and saw one of the members said:

“its the bull**** bandwagon fans that dont understand that this is a long ass season and losing 1 or 2 games a month doesn’t mean its the end of the friggin world.. it just shows that the team makes mistakes and there are still plenty of things the team needs to work on before the post season..”

Cool story, bro. Guess what? Not everyone thinks the way you do. I’m sorry, but I’m not just going to sit around and have no emotion for these regular season games. What’s the point in being a fan if you’re just going to go through the regular season indifferent to results? Who is the real bandwagon fan here when you’re waiting for April to roll around to really feel these panicky emotions? Ponder that.

I’m a sports fan; I’m a hockey fan; I’m a Sharks fan. If my team blows a game badly, I’m going to be uncomfortable with it. I want to see fixes as soon as possible. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m impatient. Woe is me for being that way.

You can embrace your “it’s a long season” mentality. That’s fine. A lot of people do. But don’t go around ridiculing other people because they are a different type of person. It’s ridiculous. Yea, what I just said was probably hypocritical, but oh well. I’m on a roll.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 17  StL 27; Setoguchi and Joe Pavelski both led with three.

The Sharks travel to Nashville, Saturday, for a bout with the Predators.

–Ray

February 5, 2010 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 58

Quite the activate-Edmonton-Oilers-mode game for the Sharks, and when they activate that notoriously awful mode, there’s only one team they could have faced — the Detroit Red Wings. Yep, you guessed it. Another Sharks loss to the Wings; this time the score was 4-2.

You know Sharks, why even bother playing this team? Why? Why do you even put your skates on or even wake up the morning of these games? You know you’re not going to try. You know you’re going to blow it. Just stay home. Bring up the Worcester Sharks to take your place, and let’s see what happens.

What’s the worst that could happen? A 10-0 loss maybe? That’s about as good as any other Sharks/Wings game has been for San Jose. It’s utterly ridiculous.

I was so ecstatic to see Sharks broadcaster Randy Hahn post a blog in which he stated it’s time for the Sharks to start gearing up for big games like this. Stop with the “it’s just another game” BS, because I got news for ya — it ain’t workin’!

Anyway, I guess Joe Thornton saw my video about him before tonight’s game because he played a lot better (only two giveaways). He scored the Sharks only two goals; both came in the first period on rebounds.

But then once again, the Wings scored four straight goals to win the game — just like they did in that 4-1 whooping earlier in the season.

I’ve run out of things to say about these Sharks/Wings games. What more can you say about this crap? I guess I’ll go the referee route for fun.

Ever notice the Wings struggle all year, but when the Wings play the Sharks, some switch turns on. The Wings get all the crucial calls and any Sharks power plays are negated. It’s truly inconceivable how bad refs are in these games. Tonight the Wings had double the power play time and took advantage of it. Two of their four markers came on the power play.

I believe I can fly...I believe I can suck incredibly (From SJSHARKS.com)

When the Sharks pulled their goalie at the end and received a power play, it was short-lived of course. God forbid San Jose EVER gets a chance to come back! Oh me Oh my! We refs can never let such a thing happen.

And they didn’t. Thornton got called for goalie interference. There goes that chance down the toilet. Thanks for playing Sharks.

So on top of not putting effort into games (maybe refs are the reason) and getting awful calls, the NHL should ban Sharks/Wings games. There truly is no point in them.

Let’s get to individuals now, and I’ll start with injuries. Dan Boyle missed yet another game, and it’s turning into one of those annoying “game-time decision” fiascos that always ends in a scratch. Do us a favor and put him on long-term injured reserve. There’s no point in playing him until after the Olympics. Let him rest. Let him play for his country. Move on.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic missed the game as well, which left a giant defensive hole on the Sharks blueline. So with two defensemen out, that means two had to be called up. Jason Demers and yes, my friends, our favorite little pinata — Derek Joslin.

Joslin lack of hockey intelligence is ground-breaking. Position error here — DET goal — position error there — DET goal. I looked up ole Derek on Facebook (you have to login to see), and he indeed has one. You can peruse his pictures, and you’ll find some interesting photographs. Two that stick out are him and his friends peeing on a building and the other is him and his friends peeing off a boat. Class act that Joslin. Urine-filled lakes coming to a city near you.

Half-Full

I think it’s been a few years since Detroit has won the season series against the Sharks. The one time the Sharks owned the series is when Detroit later knocked them out of the playoffs. Maybe it’s the reverse this time around? Hope so.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 26  DET 24; Scott Nichol led with seven.

Will some media member just go around asking every coach and player, “Why the hell can’t you beat the Red Wings? Seriously what is your malfunction?” But noooooo. Let’s be politically correct and boring. The fans want to know it, so ask it. Simple.

The Sharks now embark on a six-game road trip leading up to the Olympics. It starts Thursday when the Sharks go to St. Louis.

–Ray

February 3, 2010 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment