A Fan of the Game

Sports Talk, Straight Talk

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

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

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 21

Quite the underachieving performance by the Sharks, even though they won 4-3 over the Nashville Predators. The Sharks didn’t play like the hot team that they are. They played down to their competition, yet still came out on top.

Devin Setoguchi and Ryan Vesce returned to the lineup tonight after being injured. Vesce only received eight minutes of ice time, so I couldn’t gauge how good he looked. Seto scored a goal in the third period, after looking one step behind all night. That’s two games in a row where players returning from injuries scored.

Joe Pavelski, who did that last game, scored the first goal of the night. Patrick Marleau sped around the net and backhanded it to Pavs, who easily slotted it past goalie Dan Ellis.

But like I said before, the Sharks played down to their competition. Patty, Pavs, Seto and Scott Nichol were the only ones who looked like they wanted to play tonight. The others were content with playing at Nashville’s level. My best guess is they’re coming off two games against Stanley Cup Finals teams (Detroit and Pittsburgh) and just didn’t get pumped up to play the Predators. While I understand that mindset, you can’t come out with it. Not in the National Hockey League.

Picture 11

Joe Pavelski scores a goal (From SJSHARKS.com)

Again, the Sharks didn’t impose their will and their style of play on Nashville. They allowed the Preds to play a slower pace game with controlled breakouts. Nichol tried a bunch of times to spark the team with his speed, but that only seemed to spark Nichol himself to keep doing it.

No team led by more than one goal. The Sharks were trying to be too fancy with their passes and dekes instead of just shooting at the net and getting rebounds. There were a few three-on-twos where the extra passed doomed any chance of scoring. Someone besides Heatley needs to be a little selfish.

Speaking of Heatley, he and Joe Thornton were invisible tonight. Couldn’t find them. Thornton’s mind was elsewhere. I don’t know if it was the communication or him, but he was passing to empty space consistently.

I think San Jose finally woke up when Nashville took the lead 3-2 in the third. Then things started to speed up, checks were finished and more shots were taken.

Seto became selfish and blasted a slapshot past Ellis to tie the game.

Leave it up to ol’ Danny Boyle to finish things off with his patent full-ice skating. A little give ‘n’ go and Boyle took a shot that went through the five-hole of Ellis, with one minute left.

The Sharks survive and are now on a nine-game point streak.

Nashville Commentators

How do these guys have a job? It’s pretty unanimous that these are the worst in hockey. They are so boring to listen to and do not research anything.

If there’s anything that irks me, it’s when a commentator says a guy’s name wrong. Boy, did that happen tonight. Play-by-play guy Pete Weber kept saying VEESEE when it’s pronounced VEH-SEE, and both commentators said Nabokov’s name with emphasis on the first syllable. Wrong. It’s not NAH-ba-kov. It’s Na-BAH-kov. Your whole job is to say people’s names and if you can’t do simple research to see if you’re saying it right, get out of the business.

Also, another research tidbit. Weber said Jason Demers was up with the Sharks only because of Rob Blake’s injury. Are you joking me? He’s been up the whole season! Check a stat sheet and you’ll see he’s been in every game. Sheesh. Do Nashville a favor and quit.

They also compared Seto to Jordin Tootoo. Best non-intentional joke ever.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 16  NSH 19

It was Thomas Greiss’ second NHL start and he looked decent. He made some awesome saves, but was out of position at times. It’s a learning process. “Jesus Greiss” will continue to get better.

The Sharks battle division rival Dallas on Thursday.

–Ray

November 11, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 7

Quite the turnaround performance from the Sharks tonight as they took care of the Minnesota Wild, 4-2. Things looked bleak for San Jose early, and I was worried we wouldn’t be able to string two wins in a row.

Throughout the first period, the Sharks looked sluggish and uninterested in playing tonight. The Wild dominated the neutral zone and had the 1-0 lead going into the second period.

The light switched flipped on (as did the refs whistles), and the Sharks scored three in the second. Early on in the second stanza, San Jose kept taking penalties — at one point killing off a 5 on 3 until a Wild player took a penalty. There were 16 minutes of penalties in the second period (10 on SJ, 6 on MIN). The Wild took a 2-0 lead on a fluke deflection off Dan Boyle’s skate. The puck flew over goalie Evgeni Nabokov’s head and into the net.

After that play, the Sharks started swimming. I was thinking it would be a good time for a fight, being down 2-0 and not looking good. Jody Shelley came on the ice, and his line gave a strong forecheck that led to Jed Ortmeyer’s first goal as a Shark. Congratulations to Jed.

Patrick Marleau, with some newfound, rocket-skates, hit a slapshot off Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom. A nice rebound lay on the ice, and Patty flipped it over Backstrom and in for a goal.

The penalties started to catch up with the Wild, though. The Sharks power play got on the board when Dany Heatley fired a one-timer cannon into the net — his accuracy is unbelievable.

Much to the Wild’s shock, the third period opened with another Marleau goal — just nine seconds in. Seriously, Patty should have lost his captaincy a long time ago if we’d known he would play like this. He might challenge Heater for most goals.

Jed Ortmeyer celebrates his first goal as a Shark (From SJSHARKS.com)

Jed Ortmeyer celebrates his first goal as a Shark (From SJSHARKS.com)

One of the most important aspects of this game was Nabby’s goaltending. It was outstanding. Absolutely phenomenal — his best game of the season. After the two goals, he stoned everyone — and these just weren’t weak shots from the point. These were point-blank opportunities with a plethora of juicy rebounds. I honestly have no clue how nothing went in.

Well, that’s not true. Every player on the Sharks was giving 110% effort, no question. Ryane Clowe, in particular, dove to prevent a wide-open net. Marc-Edouard Vlasic dove to block pucks; Jason Demers was diving to prevent shots; Benn Ferriero consistently skated hard to the net. It was spectacular to see such effort from the Sharks.

Other Notes

Jamie McGinn stayed in the lineup tonight, even after Brad Staubitz served his suspension last game. McGinn made a bonecrushing hit on a Wild player behind Backstrom. Good to see him giving his all as well.

This is the second time the Sharks scored four straight goals in the young season. That shows how potent this offense is when it’s on. I hope they take note and recognize they have even more potential.

I hope Nabby takes this game’s performance, sticks it in a bottle, and unleashes it every game. This is the Nabby we remember; this is the Nabby that we love. Let this not be a Douglas-Murray-hat-trick type of once-in-a-lifetime deal.

Devin Setoguchi racked up five hits, which led the team — nice to see Gooch doing something different/more than what he’s asked.

Rob Blake blocked five shots, which led the team — nice to see Blakey doing something he’s supposed to do, and excelling at it.

Who’s Got Next?

The Sharks play Phoenix, Monday. It’s their last home game before taking off on a six-game east coast road trip. It’s crucial to win this game and not sleep on the Coyotes. Phoenix always plays the Sharks hard, so getting the effort going shouldn’t be a problem. But if I’ve seen anything this season so far, it’s the Sharks like to play the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde card. Please don’t.

–Ray

October 11, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WTHWWT – Week 10 (Ray)

We’re keeping this short.

Minnesota 28 Green Bay 27

Blow up the run defense. They couldn’t stop John Madden in a wheelchair.

Tennessee 21 Chicago 14

The Titans are the worst team in football.

Miami 21 Seattle 19

Seattle should fold. Nobody cares about that team.

New England 20 Buffalo 10

Learn how to beat the Patriots if you want to win the AFC East.

Indianapolis 24 Pittsburgh 20

Who cares who won? Lose/lose situation.

New York Giants 36 Philadelphia 31

Man, I did really bad this week.

No comment.

No comment.

November 9, 2008 Posted by | Football | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NFL Week 10 Picks!

Last Week’s Results:
Nathan: 8-6 (82-48)
Ray: 6-8 (74-56)

Games Nathan Ray
DEN @ CLE BROWNS BRONCOS
STL @ NYJ JETS JETS
JAX @ DET LIONS JAGS
GB @ MIN PACK PACK
BAL @ HOU RAVENS RAVENS
NO @ ATL SAINTS FALCONS
TEN @ CHI TITANS BEARS
SEA @ MIA DOLPHINS SEAHAWKS
BUF @ NE PATS BILLS
CAR @ OAK PANTHERS PANTHERS
IND @ PIT STEELERS STEELERS
KC @ SD CHARGERS CHARGERS
NYG @ PHI GIANTS EAGLES
SF @ ARI CARDS CARDS

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