A Fan of the Game

Sports Talk, Straight Talk

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

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

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 18

Quite the even matchup tonight for the Sharks against the Columbus Blue Jackets, but the Sharks came out with a 3-2 win in a shootout. The Sharks now ride a six-game winning streak.

It was an interesting game to watch; there were massive lulls at times, but then there was hoards of action. That all culminated into a fierce overtime session. Both goaltenders played spectacular tonight and should be proud of their performance.

Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason is the real deal. I saw no evidence of a sophomore slump. Columbus finally has a franchise goalie for Rick Nash and company, and that fanbase deserves it. The arena wasn’t completely full, but those fans are very dedicated to the team.

Things got started eight minutes in when Joe Thornton netted his fourth goal of the year, by banking the puck off Mason. Just prior to the play, Thornton somehow avoided a goalie interference call. He was pushed slightly by a Jacket player causing Joe to tumble over Mason. Thornton even exaggerated it a little bit. Surprising to see that not called.

Picture 8

Brad Staubitz tries to gain control of the puck (From SJSHARKS.com)

Columbus’ first goal, just a minute after Thornton’s, proved that the Sharks still have work to do on defense. Douglas Murray kept himself out of the play leaving Jason Chimera wide open for a tip in. At least this gives coach Todd McClellan to work with so the team doesn’t get complacent.

Dany Heatley and Jacket Rick Nash scored their 10th goals of the year in the second period to keep things knotted up.

This game sure was the opposite of the Carolina game. All of those non-scorers with goals against the Canes was unusual and now it was the stars who scored the goals. Once again, getting contribution from everywhere is huge. I remember last year, scoring was all up to the top two lines. Don’t have to worry about that anymore (for now).

The overtime, like I said, was an clinic by the goaltenders. There needs to be some serious ice on groins after tonight. Ouch. I don’t think men were ever meant to be that flexible.

Going into the shootout, I wasn’t feeling very good about the Sharks’ chances, but they proved me wrong. Dan Boyle put a wicked move on Mason and placed it top-shelf. Nabby got things done on the other side stopping all three Jacket shooters.

The Sharks are now 2-1 in shootouts; I’d like to know when the last time we were over .500 in shootouts was. Seems like…well…never.

Jared Boll

This guy was being a real thorn in the Sharks’ side. First, he forces Kent Huskins to fight with him; he puts Kent into the boards, then punches him, then finally drops his gloves. Kent had no choice but to drop them. That really irked me.

Luckily, Brad Staubitz took notice and instigated a fight with Boll. Payback’s a–well you know. Bitz handled him fairly easily although he took a few punches during the middle of the fight.

Perhaps the best moment involving Boll, was in Benn Ferriero hit him into the Jacket bench. Hilarious. This small, tiny player Ferriero runs right into Boll, who goes flying into his own bench. Epic win.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 22  CBJ 35

Rob Blake was injured during a Jacket power play. He stayed on the ice, but couldn’t do much. It was more like a 5 on 3, and the Jackets did end up scoring. He only ended up with 11 minutes of ice time. He did not play in the third period or overtime. Let’s hope he’s all right.

The Sharks take on Detroit tomorrow night. Since McClellan went with Nabby tonight, let’s see if he’ll call on Thomas Greiss tomorrow. That decision is going to be crucial.

–Ray

November 5, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment