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

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

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 54

Quite the justice game for the Sharks as they took down the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 tonight. The win puts the Sharks 5-0 against the Ducks this season.

Say what you want about regular season games and getting vengeance against teams who ousted you in the playoffs, but this feels awesome. If the Ducks did make it to the playoffs and the Sharks faced them again, these five wins mean nothing, but I’m living in the moment. Cross that bridge when or if they get there. Right now, we beat the Ducks at their best so enjoy it.

First thing that must be addressed was the awful feed of the game on NHL GameCenter. I think the feed is up to the broadcasters and Anaheim did a poor job with their cameras. The game looked like it was being viewed through a smog filter. On top of that it was blurry and you have the boring Ducks announce team. A recipe for a non-fun viewing experience. Nevertheless, I and other Sharks fans endured.

The Sharks had to endure this game without Dan Boyle’s services because of an upper body injury. From the reports I’ve read, he’ll miss the big inter-conference showdown with Buffalo on Saturday, too. He should be back next week.

Being on this hot streak recently, the Ducks tried to send a message with a couple fights and keeping things intense. It backfired.

Ryane Clowe and George Parros had a dance four minutes in. It was a welcome change from seeing Jody Shelley always fight Parros. Clowe beat down Ron Jeremy, Jr., and it started off the game fantastically.

Brad Staubitz and Nick Boynton tangoed six minutes later. Haymaker after haymaker ensued, but Bitz got the best of Boynton putting the Sharks in control of the momentum.

Take seat, duckling. I make Swedish bonesaw--errr, meatballs-- for you. (From SJSHARKS.com)

The Ducks were charged with a four minute high-sticking penalty, and it took 3:55 for the Sharks to convert. Better late than never, of course. Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored off a wrist shot near the blue line.

Anaheim started to build their own momentum, but it was crushed when Rob Blake found the twine. He was set up by an absolutely beautiful pass from Joe Thornton.

As you probably already guessed, goalie Evgeni Nabokov allowed his trademark one goal. Again. The Sharks held on to win.

Penalty Destroyers

No extra-man goals for the Ducks. The Sharks’ penalty kill unit stopped all five chances.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 24  ANA 22; Jody Shelley led with four.

As I eluded to earlier, the Sabres continue their road trip by playing San Jose on Saturday.

–Ray

January 22, 2010 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 49

Quite the fluctuating game tonight as the Sharks earned their first regulation win over the Phoenix Coyotes 3-1. The game featured a lot of ebbs and flows and different styles of play. Because of the Sharks diverse lineup, they were able to match any style presented to them and get the W.

The first period was the Patrick Marleau show. He scored his 30th and 31st goals of the season, and both came on incredibly different plays. The first was a shorthanded goal, and it occurred when the puck took a weird bounce behind the boards where goalie Jason Labarbera was, leaving the net wide open. Patty pocketed the puck with ease in the open net. His second goal came off a deflection from a point shot.

These goals might not have happened if Phoenix were awarded a goal soon after the game began. The referees blew the whistle early while the puck was underneath goalie Evgeni Nabokov. As soon as the whistle blew, the puck crossed the goal line. An unfortunate event for the Coyotes, who were previously 7-1-2 in their last 10 home games.

The oh-so-dangerous two-goal lead was tested in the second period. Almost half the period was spent with a Shark in the sin bin. It’s been a growing concern for Sharks fans — penalties. Three in the first, four in the second and one in the third. Yet again the stellar penalty kill unit locked it down all seven times, even killing a brief five-on-three. I thought the Sharks were supposed to be big and fast, and they were supposed to cause penalties, not take them. This might be the biggest reason for recent struggles, but it’s hard to fix. You don’t want to tell your players to tone it down because it risks losing an aggressive style of play defensively. And these aren’t all low-level guys taking them. We’re talking four penalties combined on Joe Thornton and Dan Boyle, and one on Rob Blake. The guys must be smarter about what they’re doing.

You don't look so happy Shane. Maybe if I blow on the puck instead of stickhandle, you'll have a chance. (From SJSHARKS.com)

Back to the game: scrums started developing after every stoppage, a few facewashes here and there, including Marleau, yes Marleau, throwing a few punches at Scottie Upshall. Marleau’s only had a couple fights in his career, one I remember was against Phoenix. Patty’s just a nice guy. Maybe he planned on killing Upshall with kindness?

Everything in the third period slowed down. Not much pace or emotion. The coaches clearly wanted their players to calm down. Too bad for us fans. Nabby lost the shutout with eight minutes left, but I didn’t expect one with the weak defensive play in that final frame.

The Sharks are currently on a stretch where they play eight games in 13 nights. Good way to start it with back-to-back wins.

He’s A Low-Talker

Todd Walsh, one of the Phoenix commentators, whispers to the audience and injects a monotone voice into everything he says. It certainly goes along with the style of play Phoenix uses, and I’m all for uniformity, but that’s not what a commentator should sound like. Not to mention he looks like an overweight Keith Olbermann.

Second Line Shenanigans

The second line is in a drought. A bad one. Ryane Clowe, Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi have 0 goals, 4 assists and are -16 in their last six games, according to a Phoenix broadcast graphic. Not positive if that included tonight’s game, but if it didn’t, the only thing that would change would be the rating to -15. I can tell you guys and girls the problem. There’s a cancer in that line. Who could it be? I don’t want to give it awa–DEVIN SETOGUCHI DID IN THE LOCKER ROOM WITH A CROWBAR–whoops. Sorry. Remove Seto and the line will go back to normal.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 21  PHX 24; Douglas Murray and Pavelski both had three.

The Sharks head back home and play the Boston Bruins on Thursday.

–Ray

January 13, 2010 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 23

Quite the steal-and-run performance by the Sharks in their 3-1 win against the St. Louis Blues. The Sharks were outworked on every part of the ice, but goalie Evgeni Nabokov stole a victory for his team.

I can’t remember the last time the Sharks were this badly outshot (39-17) and still came out with a win. But your goalie has to keep you in games and sometimes steal some. I wouldn’t say Nabby stood on his head though. Despite the huge number of shots, most of them weren’t clear shots at the net. A lot of the times the puck would deflect off someone, and roll around the crease before Nabby covered it.

The game featured a lot of big hits and intensity. Devin Setoguchi plowed two Blues players — Roman Polak in the first and T.J. Oshie in the third. The Blues dished it back in the form of a fight, which was one-sided. Cam Janssen dropped the gloves with Brad Staubitz and Janssen whooped Bitz. No contest at all.

The fight did help spark the Blues as they scored off a bank-shot late in the first.

Unfortunately for the Blues, this game was decided in 16 seconds; that’s all it took for the Sharks to score two goals. They came in the second period; Dany Heatley deked around a Blues defender and beat Chris Mason. Right after that, the Blues turned it over to a waiting Manny Malhotra, who shot the puck off Mason, and Ortmeyer batted in the rebound.

That’s about all the offense the Sharks could muster, except for the empty net goal by Joe Thornton at the very end.

Two of the three goals were on the power play, so that is still hot on the road.

Picture 13

Jamie McGinn tries to skate past Roman Polak (From SJSHARKS.com)

Once again the Sharks’ third period was weak. I wish I had a good explanation for this. Maybe they’re getting tired out there; their best period is the second, so maybe they’re wearing themselves out? I’m not sure. I would love to get in the locker room and ask coach Todd McClellan what’s up with that.

But again, the game belonged to Nabby. This is the front end of a back-to-back, and he’ll probably start again tomorrow against Chicago.

Givin’ You the Blues

Blues owner Dave Checketts ripped the team yesterday for their weak play. That obviously played a huge part in the emotion St. Louis played with tonight. I wonder what Checketts thinks right now about this loss. Gotta be tough, but I concede the Blues deserved this one. But in order to become that elite team, you have to win ugly. Not sure if the Blues have learned that yet.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 26  STL 18; Patrick Marleau led with four hits, while Seto, Heater and Douglas Murray added three each.

I saw Jamie McGinn on the penalty kill tonight. Can’t say I’ve seen him there before, but it’s good he’s getting rewarded for his hustle. That kid might be Scott Nichol, Jr.

I forgot to mention last game that Torrey Mitchell was reassigned to Worcester for conditioning. Big step for Torrey. Hopefully he gets his legs under him quickly.

The Sharks travel to Chicago tomorrow to take on the Blackhawks. Should be an entertaining match.

–Ray

November 15, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 16

Quite the statement game by the Sharks tonight in their 3-1 win over their Colorado Avalanche. The Avs are getting so much hype this month and it was awesome to see them beaten.

Avs goalie Craig Anderson tried to steal the show, especially in the first, but the Sharks would not relent. Even after a scoreless first period and a few spectacular saves, the Sharks didn’t give up.

There’s no one better that represents that mentality than Ryane Clowe. Clowey finally scored a goal — his first in 21 games — tonight late in the second period. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen someone so happy to score a regular season goal. Everyone could see all the weight jump off his shoulders. Right now, it looks like that shootout goal sparked something.

The third period was a complete team effort from the Sharks. Goalie Evgeni Nabokov was sharp, with the exception of a big rebound leading to a Matt Duchene goal. He made key stops at key times and kept the Sharks in it.

Dany Heatley scored on a tip-in goal and Jamie McGinn drilled a wrister past Anderson to put the game out of reach.

The Sharks hot power play was stymied, though. The Duchene goal was during a power play at all. So, if there’s anything to improve on, that would be it. Make sure the line changes are crisp and defensemen are in position.

Picture 6

Ryane Clowe celebrates his first goal of the season (From SJSHARKS.com)

I’d like to address the Avs. What a joke. Why people believe they will be something good this year is beyond me. It’s just one month. It’s a looooonnnggg season, and Avs fans are proclaiming playoffs. Sorry, but the Avs will miss the playoffs this year.

Anderson is a backup goalie at best, and is just experiencing a hot streak. Everything will settle down and the Avs will sink to the bottom of the Western Conference. The Sharks pulled no punches tonight and showed the Avs how to be the best. The Avs couldn’t respond. Enjoy your mediocrity Colorado. San Jose will send you a postcard from the playoffs.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 23  COL 13

Joe Thornton received a puck in the face that knocked his tooth out. He became quite angry the rest of the game and ended up leading the team (along with Jed Ortmeyer) in hits with four. If only the Sharks could get that angry Joe every game. It’s a great sight.

The Sharks hit the road again for three games against Carolina, Columbus and Detroit. Carolina is first and that game is Sunday.

–Ray

October 31, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment