A Fan of the Game

Sports Talk, Straight Talk

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 33

Quite the unlucky game for the Sharks in their 2-1 loss to the Calgary Flames. For the second straight game, the opposing goalie made saves he has no business making. The Sharks can’t buy a goal right now.

The game was action-packed, no question about that. Thirty-six shots a-piece and 35 hits a-piece made for another playoff atmosphere.

Ryane Clowe extended his points streak to nine games with a goal tonight. That came off a rebound from Dan Boyle’s shot. Other than that it was the Mikka Kiprusoff show. He couldn’t be beat. San Jose tried everything.

One of his saves was a miracle; he was on his stomach, a shot was taken, he flung his glove up which deflected it. The puck was on its way in when he kicked his skate up to kick it out. Unbelievable. That’s how it went all night for the Sharks.

I think Kipper has X-ray vision because the Sharks stacked a bunch of players in front of him for screens. They were doing everything right according to their game plan. When you hit a hot goalie, there isn’t much you can do except pray.

It was nice to see the Sharks never give up despite all this. Any number of teams would pack it up and take a seat in the press box after seeing saves like that. The Sharks didn’t do that at all. But unfortunately “will” couldn’t win it for them tonight and they’ve lost three of their last six games.

Every broadcast the opposing announcers make mention of the Sharks being No. 1 in the NHL. Can we stop that please? I don’t care if the points say they’re in first, they’re not the best in the league. San Jose’s record is now 19-7-5. Now change the numbers up a bit and we’re 19-12 (Overtime/Shootout losses are losses.) 19-12 is mediocre. That’s not too far from being .500.

Players battle for the puck (From SJSHARKS.com)

That one stretch earlier in the season where they recorded a point in 12 straight games is why the record is what it is.

Reviewing the postgame quotes from last game against St. Louis, coach Todd McClellan was ticked off at his team for allowing that last minute goal. Coaches will say it’s a team loss that encompasses the entire game, but you could tell Todd knew it came down to that last shift. It certainly looked like he sparked something in the players tonight. Good to know they respond well to Todd’s anger.

Also from last game, goalie Evgeni Nabokov mentioned Marc-Edouard Vlasic should have blocked that shot which tied the game up. A little “90210” in the Sharks locker room? Not so much. Not that big of a deal. Nabby and Vlasic shook it off, and while I know players act like they don’t care all the time, this was an exception.

Maybe I’m spoiled, but losing three of six makes me feel like a New Jersey Nets fan (The Nets started this season 0-18). It’s never fun losing, but losing because of these redonkulous goalies is beyond frustrating. Here’s to turnarounds.

Battle of the Mc’s

Frazer McLaren took on Brian McGratton, but it was too much McGratton for the youngster. He’s officially caught the Jody-Shelley syndrome. There is no cure except to choose more weak combatants. Tread carefully my friend.

So close, yet so far

Before the game Derek Joslin was reassigned to Worcester but then immediately recalled to play. Darn. We were so close to freedom and becoming good again…

Sick Heatley

Heatley is battling flu-like symptoms and was a game-time decision. He played below average. Dion Phaneuf nailed him with a neutral-zone check, and Dany had a bunch of giveaways.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 35  CGY 35; Devin Setoguchi led the team with five.

The Sharks have three days off before facing the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday. McClellan better not give anyone the day off.

–Ray

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December 6, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 19

Quite the courageous performance by the Sharks, despite losing to the Detroit Red Wings 2-1, in a shootout. It ends their six-game winning streak, but they keep in-tact their seven-game point streak. Thinking about all the adversity the Sharks face coming into this game, it’s hard to be mad at them for not pulling this one out.

Allow me to discuss some of that opposition.

Let’s start with the obvious: the Sharks are injured. It’s like Stalingrad in San Jose. Players injured consist of Ryan Vesce, Devin Setoguchi, Torrey Mitchell, Joe Pavelski and Rob Blake. None of those guys are expendable. Maybe Vesce, but remember he was scoring like crazy on the top line. Dany Heatley got hit hard in tonight’s game and all fans held their breath. He returned and looked fine, however.

The Sharks called up Derek Joslin and Joe Callahan. Yea, that creates a hell of a lot of opposition when you call up those two.

This was the second of back-to-back games.

The Sharks have been on the road seemingly the whole season. Constant travel and stinky motel rooms will do a number on you.

The Sharks never win in Detroit. This is just a weird fact of life. They have a few wins at the Joe, but San Jose always finds a way to come out with a loss there.

And this is all before opening faceoff! Yet, these guys came out, exhausted, lethargic and earned a point. Outstanding.

Logan Couture scored his first goal of his career tonight on a wrister between the legs of goalie Chris Osgood. I really wish this kid could get a better opportunity with a higher line rather than meandering around with Jody Shelley. With the injuries, he’s going to be sent back down to Worcester, so put him on the top or second line for a few shifts. See what happens.

Picture 9

Logan Couture celebrates his first NHL goal (From SJSHARKS.com)

OK, so let’s jump out of Optimismville and get into some criticism, shall we? Goalie Evgeni Nabokov gives me heart attacks with his puck handling. He’s been giving the puck away to opposition on a consistent basis lately. I realize he wants a quick breakout — maybe because the Sharks’ breakouts have struggled — but Nabby, don’t put your team behind by doing something you aren’t required to do.

The Sharks power play forecheck was abismal tonight. I’m sure part of it was exhaustion, but they allowed a bunch of 2-on-1s and 3-on-2s tonight, while on the man advantage. Patch that up pronto.

The shootout was ugly for the Sharks. They didn’t convert on either chance and Nabby allowed two out of 3 chances. Ryane Clowe used the same exact move he’s used in the last two shootouts. It worked the first time, but the last two chances were easy stops for the goalie. Either come up with a new move for stay on the bench.

Brad Staubitz

Bitz was a healthy scratch tonight, presumably because coach Todd McClellan was angry with his penalties against the Blue Jackets last game. He received 17 minutes worth of penalties after a fight with Jared Boll. He was eligible to return in the game, but Todd kept him benched. As a result, Couture only had Shelley as a linemate. Bitz better keep his head together. I haven’t see Todd keep anyone in a doghouse, but there’s a first for everything.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 27  DET 32; Scott Nichol, Joe Thornton and Douglas Murray combined for 14 of those.

The Sharks go home for a week, and they will play three games at HP Pavillion against Pittsburgh, Nashville and Dallas, in that order. I think Thomas Greiss needs to spell Nabby for Pittsburgh on Saturday. I know it’s baptism by fire, but Nabby needs a break.

–Ray

November 6, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WTHWWT – Week 5 (Nathan)

So, in a week where the MLB saw the Cubs and Angels get eliminated from the playoffs, and the NHL started another season, with two games over in Europe, there was another week full of upsets and surprises in the NFL. The stock market continues to hit rock bottom and the presidential candidates continue to tour the country in hopes of people’s votes. Wachovia was bought out by Wells Fargo, and the University of Michigan got blown out of the water by the Fighting Illini and Juice Williams. As society continues to go downhill, the thoughts of where this world will be one year from today is just scary and unpredictable. But when times turn rough, you can always count on these blogs to cheer you up.

Atlanta vs Green BayAaron Rodgers vs Matt Ryan. Both very young inexperienced, starting quarterbacks and Lambeau Field on the first weekend of October, it does not get any better than this. People were unsure of how Rodgers would play because of his shoulder injury, but in an attempt to beat Brett Favre’s record setting streak of continuous starts, Rodger suited up and played. In the end, Matt Ryan was the quarterback who was leaving the field as a winner. This is the third week in a row that I have had to write about the Packers which is not a good thing. Hopefully they get the team back on track on their way to Seattle to visit former head coach Mike Holmgren.

San Diego vs Miami – So as I should have done when picking my picks for the week, the Chargers will now be known as the Padres. Hopefully this will give them a reason to start winning… Miami once again surprised the league with another upset victory. The Miami Dolphins are the team that everyone is going to overlook this season. Expect the Dolphins to finish at least .500 this season. They are that good. Or that average. However you want to look at it.

Buffalo vs Arizona – If any Buffalo Bills fans thought that JP Losman was a good quarterback hopefully this week proved something to you. The only good thing JP is good for is riding the bench and maybe giving the plays to the quarterback. On his first drive, JP lost a fumble and the Cardinals subsequently scored on the following drive. Hopefully, Trent Edwards can heal up over the bye week and come back in two weeks and start at quarterback. Concussions are so unpredictable so I’m sure we won’t find out until next week whether he can play or not.

Pittsburgh vs Jacksonville – Once again, the Jaguars let me down. Their lack of a running game has imploded my fantasy teams all season long and until they find a decent tandem in the backfield, it’s going to be a long season for the Jags.  Jones-Drew and Taylor must pick it up for Jacksonville’s success. The Steelers are going to have another dominant year in their division and will end up making the playoffs once again.

So, as this will be my last blog before the NHL Season officially starts on Thursday, let me finish this by saying Go Wings… HEY HEY HOCKEYTOWN!

– Nathan

October 8, 2008 Posted by | Baseball, Football, Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Execution Day II; WTHWWT – Week 5 (Ray)

This NFL season is turning out to be one of the weirdest I have ever seen. Teams keep blowing their 4th quarter leads, there is a new injury every week, and the teams that do win do not deserve to. Let me get started.

Tennessee 13 Baltimore 10

The Titans are the weakest 5-0 team I have seen in my life. They are not that good and are way overrated. Kerry Collins is nothing special and neither is their running game. Their defense is good but there is no way they should be 5-0 right now. The Ravens should have won this game, hands down. They let it slip away from them, when they had the Titans where they wanted them. I see the Titans as an average .500 team still, despite their record.

Atlanta 27 Green Bay 24

I hate Matt Ryan. Let me get that statement out of the way first. The Packers defense has reverted back to the old days of letting people score all over them. Al Harris’ injury has been big and Charles Woodson has not been 100% either. The Pack must get Ryan Grant more involved. As soon as they get behind, it is all put on Aaron Rodgers. Stick with Ryan Grant. It works when he gets the ball. The Packers are still 2-0 in the NFC North, which is important, but if they cannot beat teams like Tampa and Atlanta, I am going to have to start picking against them.

Indianapolis 31 Houston 27

I had this game picked! Sage Rosenfels decided he wanted to blow a 17 point lead with 5 freakin’ minutes left. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. Houston has got to learn how to seal a deal. I realize they are winless but come on, every team needs to have some sort of victory escape plan. The Colts have cemented the fact that they are average. This win proves nothing about them, besides that they are terrible. Peyton looks mediocre, as does Addai. They better pick it up if they want to even MAKE the playoffs.

Washington 23 Philadelphia 17

I am not ready to concede that Washington is a good team. I just can’t seem to fit them in with the elite teams in the NFL (there really aren’t any though). The defense is pretty good, but nothing spectacular. Clinton Portis is a solid back, but can be fairly inconsistent. Jason Campbell is improving but when the big game comes around in December and January, I think he will crack. Get on me all you want Skins fans, your team is not as good as you think. It is all one, big mirage.

New England 30 San Francisco 21

This was a last minute change for me.  Woe is me for picking against Bill Bellicheck after a bye week, but what the hell?  I thought the 49ers could take advantage of being at home and they didn’t play poorly, they just turned the ball over too much – 3 INT.  The Patriots had the ball for almost 40 minutes, and that is why they won.  J.T. O’Sullivan is definitely a competent quarterback, but it is becoming clear to me that teams these days do not care as much about the run anymore.  Frank Gore only had 12 carries.  Frank is a very, very good back.  The Big Dawg’s gotta eat.  Give him the ball more San Francisco!

Minnesota 30 New Orleans 27

OK, evidentally I have some sort of NFC North curse where whoever I pick does the opposite.  The Saints deserved this win and they blew it.  Martin Gramatica blew it.  Fire him right now.  He is garbage beyond belief.  Sign Morten Anderson.  Gramatica sucks.  Reggie Bush had two punt return touchdowns and Brees had over 300+ yards passing.  The defense played well.  But the Saints decide to take so many penalties and have turnovers galore.  Adrian Peterson was invisible.  This is all on Gramatica.  The NFL’s worst kicker.

October 5, 2008 Posted by | Football | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NFL Week 5 Picks!

Last Week’s Results:
Nathan: 8-5 (39-21)
Ray: 7-6 (32-28)

Games Nathan Ray
TEN @ BAL TITANS RAVENS
KC @ CAR PANTHERS PANTHERS
CHI @ DET BEARS BEARS
ATL @ GB PACK PACK
IND @ HOU COLTS
SD @ MIA CHARGERS DOLPHINS
SEA @ NYG GIANTS GIANTS
WAS @ PHI SKINS EAGLES
TB @ DEN BRONCOS BRONCOS
BUF @ ARI BILLS
CIN @ DAL COWBOYS COWBOYS
NE @ SF PATS
PIT @ JAX JAGS STEELERS
MIN @ NO SAINTS SAINTS

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