A Fan of the Game

Sports Talk, Straight Talk

ITSC, Game 1 Sharks vs. Avalanche

Absolutely hilarious.

Can’t wait until all the star players are gone.

Time for rebuilding.

No one wants to play hard.

That’s all there is to say.

Photo here. Caution: Contains mature content in top left corner.

–Ray

April 15, 2010 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 31

Quite the fun game tonight as the Sharks defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-2. Dany Heatley played his former team for the first time, as did Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo.

Things were very spirited in the first period. Those three players definitely tried to make statements to their former clubs, and one was very successful.

Michalek netted two goals, so as far as I’m concerned, only Sharks scored tonight. He looked like a man on a mission to score. He pushed the Sens’ play and forecheck, constantly battled in front of the net. What else can I say? Milan deserved it. Buuuttt, the Sharks are too good.

A fourth man entered the ring to prove something; Patrick Marleau played his 900th game, all with the Sharks, and showed everyone it was a good decision to not trade him after all these years. He scored two goals as well and almost had a third, but lost the puck on a cut-in towards the net.

It was just a fun game to watch. There wasn’t a shortage of effort, maybe lack of intelligence (I think of one player to be named later), but all the players tried hard.

Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau celebrate after Marleau scores (From SJSHARKS.com)

Frazer McLaren dropped the gloves with Matt Carkner in the first to continue the entertainment. Unfortunately, McLaren dropped another decision. It was close after Carkner ended the fight on purpose by dragging Frazer down, but Carkner had more punches land. Frazer needs to start winning some fights soon and not continue this Jody Shelley syndrome.

Both the second and third periods started off considerably slower than the first period; however, things picked up about halfway through each time.

Ryane Clowe came through with a goal after a tough battle between Manny Malhotra and Sens defenders. My tune is slowly starting to change on Manny. He scored an empty netter tonight and has shown some good speed and toughness lately. But I’m not so quick to change my mind on people. Hopefully this stays consistent.

Thomas Greiss manned the net for the Sharks. He hadn’t started in two weeks so coach Todd McClellan gave Evgeni Nabokov the night off. “Jesus” Greiss sure likes to flail. Reminds me of Magikarp from Pokemon. Both Greiss and Magikarp have one move: Flail. Obviously Greiss is more effective at it. He made some spectacular saves to preserve the lead. This backup situation could get juicy next season. After the Sharks decide whether or not to resign Nabby, will they put all their stock in Greiss as the heir apparent? Or will they look further to stud prospects Alex Stalock and Tyson Sexsmith? Who knows, but that’s getting a little ahead of myself.

The Sharks’ top line of Heatley-Thornton-Marleau amassed six points tonight continuing their William-Sherman-March-to-the-Sea trek torching any team in their path.

Douglas Murray

This guy took three penalties in the third period alone. What in the world was he thinking? Maybe he was excited because his grandfather was watching him play for the first time since he was in college. I don’t know, but regardless, this is the kind of thing that gets you in the coach’s doghouse. I mean, almost half of the period was shorthanded because of Murray. Use your friggin’ head, son.

Cheech ‘n’ Seek

Boy has Cheech ever fallen off the radar. He’s a third-liner in Ottawa and has been reduced to scrubbing the poop deck every game. Long gone are the days of him scoring 50 goals. Poor Cheech. Guess you really find out how good Joe Thornton is when the sniper leaves Jumbo’s side.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 21  OTT 18; Scott Nichol (4) and Devin Setoguchi (3) led the team.

Seto and Torrey Mitchell aren’t getting much important action on the fourth line. Torrey received an extra minute compared to last game and Seto’s ice time was decreased. I wonder how much rust these two actually accumulated, because I think we all know these guys are much better than fourth liners. Patience is a virtue I guess. Can’t wait to see them fully recovered.

The Sharks play St. Louis on Thursday.

–Ray

December 2, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 17

Quite the great all-around performance by the Sharks in their 5-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. For San Jose, it’s the fifth straight win, which officially makes them hot.

There’s nothing bad to report from the game. Everybody contributed, including some players who you’d least expect to get on the score sheet. The Sharks received goals from Kent Huskins, Brad Staubitz, Douglas Murray, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Patrick Marleau.

One of those makes sense, but the other five? Yea, that’s not a typo.

The Sharks dominated the first period and Evgeni Nabokov made some spectacular saves. Those saves did come off some bad rebounds, but he made up for them. Everything looked great — breakouts, entry into the offensive zone, board play, effort. It was all there.

Picture 7

Scott Nichol puts on one of his seven hits (From NHL.com)

The Canes scored first on a perfect shot top shelf. Not much any goalie could have done.

Huskins answered on a great individual effort. He pinched in, shot, gathered his own rebound and scored on a wrap-around. He and Demers have been nothing but solid so far, and it was good to see Huskins finally rewarded. Demers picked up his 10th assist on that play.

The fourth line of Shelley-Couture-Staubitz put forth a great effort shortly after, and Staubitz was able to score on a rebound. It was the same for Murray who pinched in and scored on a rebound. That goal was his first in 109 games. Unbelievable how inept he’s been on offense. I still say he is the most overrated player on the team. The fans love him because of his hitting. He only has one big hit a game. I do like his personality, though. Don’t expect many more goals, if any, the rest of the season.

Carolina has now lost nine straight games, if I heard correctly. Zoinks! That’s awful! Add on top of that their star Eric Staal injured himself in the first period, and things couldn’t get much worse. The Canes are interesting. Not sure what to make of this team, which made it to the Conference Finals last season. They have great fans and good players; I wish only the best for them.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 25  CAR 41; Scott Nichol had seven of those hits. Awesome.

After their hot streak on the power play, things have cooled off. But it’s great to see the Sharks can score just as well even strength. They have found their consistency, so let’s hope the extra days off between next game doesn’t affect them.

The Sharks next game is Wednesday against Columbus, who they beat earlier this season, 6-3.

–Ray

November 1, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 2

Quite the disgraceful performance from the Sharks against the Colorado Avalanche tonight, losing 5-2.

The team looked lost on defense — constant positioning errors by both young players and veterans leading to numerous weak side goals. No communication on offense or defense. Goaltending was absolutely atrocious. Nabokov needs to get his act together very quickly. There was a phrase I heard from Tony Kornheiser saying something like “once is an anomaly, two is a trend, three is a problem.” Nabby has two games to make drastic changes, or the trade rumors will start, as if they hadn’t already.

There were two bright spots I saw. Patrick Marleau looked magnificent in his new C-less sweater netting San Jose’s only two goals. Defenseman Jason Demers was the best d-man of the night for the Sharks. He looked confident moving the puck and with his decision-making with the exception of the goal against he was on the ice for.

Jason Demers handles the puck

Jason Demers handles the puck. (From SJSHARKS.COM)

Other than that, it was disgusting to watch. As I said in Vol. 1, the Avs came out in the first five minutes with a fury and scored first. The Sharks answered in the sixth minute though, cooling off the Sakic emotions. From then on, it was all about effort. The youngsters for the Avs wanted to prove something to themselves, their teammates, and the fans. They were successful.

I wouldn’t say the Sharks didn’t put forth a good effort, but they just weren’t good. The Sharks put 40 shots on goal — something they always do under head coach Todd McClellan; however, the shots are not well-selected. Most are just random slapshots from the point hoping for a deflection. Ryane Clowe is the only legitimate player who will get in front of the net and try for deflections. That strategy needs to be tweaked to find better passing lanes before randomly drilling the puck to the crease. I think most players are shooting just to shoot (because that’s what Todd wants), but if the shot selection isn’t there, you give confidence to the goalie. Avs goalie Craig Anderson is not that good; that’s just the truth. But with every weak shot, he starts believing he is Luongo.

Jody Shelley got into a fight with David Koci and lost. I’m one of the few Shelley supporters; he is a good guy, and chooses fights at the right time. I can’t support him forever, so long as he keeps getting beat. Another loss and I might just call for his head too. We have Frazer McLaren and Brad Staubitz, who are more than capable of beating the hell out of the other team.

As you read in the first volume, I defended the selection of Rob Blake as captain. But Blake came out and took a double minor at the end of the first, forcing the Sharks to start the second on the defensive for the first four minutes. You can’t do that. I’m sure he knows that, so it will be interesting to see what he says in the postgame quotes.

One thing is for sure: the Sharks better get their act together in a hurry because the Ducks are next on the schedule. And it’s in Anaheim on Saturday.

–Ray

October 2, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What the Hell Were We Thinking Week 1 (Ray)

Welcome to the first edition of “What the Hell were we Thinking.” Too many times you see predictions on websites and after the week of football is over, nobody reviews their predictions. Not anymore! (on this site anyway). I have a lot of writing to do after week 1. Don’t get on me about it. Without further ado, let’s review my stupid mistakes.

Atlanta 34 Detroit 21

Please tell me you did not have Atlanta scoring 34 points with a rookie quarterback in his first game. This completely threw me for a loop. Jon Kitna gave his 10-win guarantee again and the Lions come into Atlanta and go down 0-21. Uh… How did this happen? Well, Matt Ryan’s first pass as an NFL QB was a 62-yard touchdown to Michael Jenkins. NOBODY predicted that one. The story of this game was RB Michael Turner. No longer in Ladainian Tomlinson’s shadow, Turner simply put up 220 yards rushing and 2 TD. That along with Matt Ryan having no turnovers made Atlanta’s offense look fantastic

Stat of the Game: Total yards Rushing – ATL 318 DET 62

Baltimore 17 Cincinatti 10

This is a game I should have thought about more. The Bengals are now looking at running back at committee no matter what they want to tell you. Releasing RB Rudi Johnson for Chris Perry and Kenny Watson? Bad move. But wait. Perry carried the ball 18 times for you! Huh? He only got 37 yards off of 18 carries? Ouch. His longest run was 9? I know Baltimore’s D is good but wow. You can do better than that. That is what this game came down to like the Atlanta game: rushing.

Stat of the Game: Total yards rushing – BAL 229 CIN 65

Buffalo 34 Seattle 10

Kudos to Nathan for getting this one right. The Seahawks recievers look like the old ones again: Bad. If you look at the stats this game should have ended in a tie. Basically everything is close to equal on both sides. The only difference is Buffalo took advantage of their opportunities. QB Trent Edwards made no mistakes and RB Marshawn Lynch was good enough. The battle here was one on special teams. A blocked FG helped Buffalo as did a Roscoe Parrish punt return. Say what you want about special teams. But it is definitely a game breaker.

Stat of the Game: Buffalo had 13 points off special teams and a blocked FG

Tennessee 17 Jacksonville 10

This was one of the shockers for me in week 1. Jacksonville is a really good team that doesn’t make very many mistakes and has a good running game. At least, last year they did. The running game for JAX was non-existent with a total of 14 carries between Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor. Those carries netted an amazing 31 yards rushing. Seriously? This is your bread and butter Jacksonville. Big dawgs gotta eat! QB David Garrard was not his usual self throwing 2 interceptions (Remember he didnt even throw a pick last season until around week 10). Let me give credit to the Titans though. Their running game looked great led by rookie Chris Johnson who carried the ball 15 times for 93 yards.

Stat of the Game: Jones-Drew/Taylor 31 yards rushing. Lendale White 40 yards rushing.

Carolina 26 San Diego 24

My fingers hurt. Am i done yet? 3 more games to do? Crap… OK this game was won on the last second so I shouldn’t take much heat for it. I know one thing; this better not start another 0-4 start for the Chargers. You cannot keep getting off to slow starts on the league. It will come back to bite you and the “Fire Norv Turner” signs and chants will come up again. Carolina was 1/4 in the red zone with the 1 being the game winner. This should have been San Diego’s game and they blew it. There is no excuse for allowing that touchdown drive. It didn’t help that LT was not over 100 yards. I am pretty sure when he is over 100 they have a damn good record. Carolina should have lost this game, but maybe this is a sign of things to come.

Stat of the Game: The game-winning touchdown drive by Carolina.

Arizona 23 San Francisco 13

Why do you do this to me Arizona? The last two years I had faith that you could make it to the playoffs, and now I doubt you once and you blow it in my face. This was a VERY even game. Kurt Warner looked OK but was nothing special, while Edgerrin James got to the 100 yard mark. QB JT O’Sullivan was decent but failed to connect on a touchdown pass and fumbled the ball more times than you can say “the” in a day, and Frank Gore did look good but should have been fed the ball more. This game was down to turnovers and turnovers only. San Fran better get their QB situation figured out or give O’Sullivan a tutorial on how to hold onto the ball.

Stat of the Game: SF 5 fumbles, 4 lost

Chicago 29 Indianapolis 13

This was the biggest upset of week 1. I figured Peyton Manning would have a field day against Chicago, especially opening their new stadium. Quite the opposite. QB Kyle Orton did exactly what he was supposed to do for Chicago – not make any mistakes. The Bears did what they do best which is run the football (Matt Forte 23 Att 123 yds 1 TD) and play good defense. If the Bears can play like this the rest of the way, they might actually contend for the NFC North division. That is one big ‘if’ though. I think the Bears will go back to their old selves next week, same with the Colts. Yin and Yang must be balanced.

Stat of the Game: 3rd down efficiency – CHI 10/16 62% IND 5/11 45%

September 8, 2008 Posted by | Football | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What the Hell Were We Thinking Week 1 (Nathan)

The NFL season is off and running, and already some teams seasons are over. The New England Patriots won their game, but lost Tom Brady which basically ended their season. Now all we are going to hear about is how much the Patriots suck without Tom Brady. With the Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars losing, and Tom Brady being injured, the AFC is up for grabs after week one.

Now to answer the question, “What the hell were we thinking”.

1. The Detroit Lions vs the Atlanta Falcons- There is no easy way to say this, but im gonna try and do my best. With Matt Millen in charge, the Detroit Lions are going absolutely no where in life. I gave them a chance against the very young Atlanta Falcons, but they blew it. They let Matt Ryan, oh by the way Buck Foston College, dominate the game, and it was a mismatch from the beginning. The Lions are done, and hopefully they realize its time to FIRE MATT MILLEN!

2. Cincinnati Bengals vs Baltimore Ravens- With “Ocho Cinco” and Carson Palmer leading the way, the Bengals should have blown out the Ravens but instead it was the other way around. The young and upstart Ravens, with Joe Flacco being handed the offensive reigns and the stingy Baltimore defense, the Bengals just could not muster any offense. Maybe Flacco is the future for the Ravens, lets hope so, because behind him, is nothing.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars vs Tennessee Titans- A very close game with two high powered offenses. I could have gone either way with this pick. With Jacksonville being favored to challenge the Colts for first place, I figured they would come out fighting and teach the young Titans a lesson in the first week of the season. Vince Young played well enough through 3 quarters before being injured in the 4th to lead his team to victory. Next week’s probable starter for the Titans is Kerry Collins… it should be interesting. The Jags will go back home and fix things, and im sure will dominate the rest of the season.

4. Chicago Bears vs Indianapolis Colts- Add together the following: Opening a new stadium, Peyton Manning, Joseph Addai and Marvin Harrison, and what do you get? No one would have thought a Chicago Bears victory but thats exactly what happened. Kyle Orton and the Bears defense pummeled the Colts all night long and Peyton Manning simply did not look comfortable all night long. Maybe the colts were still thinking about how they have a chance now that the Patriots have lost Tom Brady for possibly the season, maybe they just overlooked the Bears, who knows!? But Tony Dungy needs to get his offense clicking or Jacksonville will end up running away with the division.

Two more games are going to be played tonight. Aaron Rodgers gets his chance to lead the Packers at Lambeau Field against the hated Vikings. All I have to say to him is “Son, this is your chance. Brett proved he still had playing power left yesterday, now its your time to prove the Packers made the right decision by trading him away”.

In tonights second game, the Denver Broncos play the Oakland Raiders. With both teams coming off rough seasons, look for a very good game. And with Mike and Mike doing the announcing, it should be a great game to tune into.

September 8, 2008 Posted by | Football | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

NFL Week 1 Picks!

Games Nathan Ray
WAS @ NYG GIANTS GIANTS
DET @ ATL LIONS LIONS
CIN @ BAL BENGALS BENGALS
SEA @ BUF BILLS SEAHAWKS
NYJ @ MIA JETS JETS
KC @ NE PATS PATS
TB @ NO SAINTS SAINTS
STL @ PHI EAGLES EAGLES
HOU @ PIT STEELERS STEELERS
JAC @ TEN JAGS JAGS
DAL @ CLE COWBOYS COWBOYS
CAR @ SD PANTHERS CHARGERS
ARI @ SF CARDS 49ERS
CHI @ IND COLTS COLTS
MIN @ GB PACK PACK
DEN @ OAK BRONCOS BRONCOS

September 3, 2008 Posted by | Football | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment