A Fan of the Game

Sports Talk, Straight Talk

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 67

Quite the persistence pays off game for the Sharks as they finally solved Steve Mason and defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets, 2-1. It was looking bad early on, but Mason finally cracked.

I’ve definitely been a part of these games before — while playing video games of course — especially against Roberto Luongo. I try all different button combinations to set up the perfect pass and still get stoned by the goalie. That’s probably how the real players felt tonight against Mason.

It had been over seven periods since the Sharks last scored on Mason. Columbus shut out the Sharks right before the break, but the Sharks looked awful that night. This time around, San Jose swarmed the Blue Jackets and put on unrelenting pressure.

The team reacts to Jumbo saying he'll keep his shirt on for interviews (From SJSHARKS.com)

I really hope these types of games stay in the Sharks’ minds. When playoff time comes, you’re going to be down — no question. They may be just regular season games, but knowing you can come back against a hot goalie could pay huge dividends.

Dany Heatley scored the first goal, which came in the third period on the power play. A gigantic sigh exited HP Pavilion. Joe Pavelski skated around the back of the net and scored to take the lead.

A few timely saves by Evgeni Nabokov, specifically in the final seconds, sealed the victory.

Nichol Update

Scott Nichol, who was cheap-shotted last game, will be out 7-10 days with a shoulder injury. Ryan Vesce was called up to take his place. Vesce played seven minutes and amassed three hits.

Maxim Lapierre was suspended four games for the hit.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 36  CBJ 32; Douglas Murray led with six.

The Sharks’ next game is Thursday against Nashville, at home.

–Ray

March 7, 2010 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

February 11, 2010 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

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 6

Quite the explosive performance for the Sharks tonight as San Jose defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets, 6-3. Dany Heatley had a hat trick in the home opener for the Sharks, making all the fans ecstatic. It is so nice to have a pure sniper on the team now. Sure, we had Jonathan Cheechoo and we still have Devin Setoguchi, but I always saw those players as needing a Joe Thornton. Heatley doesn’t need anyone but himself to score goals, and that’s what kind of player the Sharks have needed.

Heatley had 3 goals, 1 assist, finished +5 and had 2 PIMs — a good night for Heater, to say the least.

Heater’s first goal came on a hard-fought shift behind the goal line, then he scored on a wraparound. His next goal came from a Dan Boyle pass from the defensive zone all the way to the Jackets’ blue line. Heatley wristed it by Steve Mason. For the hat trick, Heatley was tripped in front of the net that led to a penalty shot. He calmly deposited it 5-hole, and the fans made it rain with hats.

Dany Heatley celebrates with Joe Thornton and Devin Setoguchi (From: SJSHARKS.com)

Dany Heatley celebrates with Joe Thornton and Devin Setoguchi (From: SJSHARKS.com)

Ryane Clowe

After the tongue-thrashing (or type-thrashing in this case) I gave Clowe last game, he came out and was on fire. He was hitting as many players as he could find (he led the team with 5 hits). His skating was fast and agile, and his shooting was spot-on. I could tell he wanted to prove last game was a fluke. There’s nothing I respect more than a guy getting pissed off at his performance, then come out next game and dominate. Clowe also had a fight tonight, which leads to…

Fights

Two fights tonight, both coming in the second period. First fight pitted Clowe vs. Michael Blunden. This was no contest. Clowe carried his emotion into his fists as he busted Blunden’s head wide open. Blunden bled profusely from his left temple.

The second fight involved Shark Frazer McLaren and Jacket tough guy Derek Dorsett. McLaren got his arm stuck inside his jersey and struggled the first half of the fight. Dorsett capitailzed with a couple left hooks, but McLaren finally got free of his jersey and proceeded to pound the living daylights out of Dorsett. I’m sure if Dorsett has some chips, he can dip them in his head because his brain is a nice mushy salsa now.

Defensemen

Two d-men got on the scoreboard tonight, goal-wise. Dan Boyle did his usual pinching, and shot a wicked wrister top-shelf past Mason. Boyle assisted twice as well.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic was the culprit allowing the Jackets first goal — another weak-side positioning error. He made up for it with a slapshot from the point through traffic. Good to see him make up for that mistake.

Demers struggling?

You can’t be perfect. It was Jason Demers’ worst night of the young season, against Columbus. His first passes out of the zone were being intercepted or blocked. His puck control was suspect — at one point, Rick Nash stole the puck in the Sharks’ defensive zone. I’m sure Jason will clean up those mistakes though.

Other notes

Brad Staubitz was suspended for one game due to making excessive physical contact on an icing play against the Los Angeles Kings. Jamie McGinn filled in for him. There wasn’t much to report for McGinn. He was fast as usual, but that’s it.

Columbus goalie Steve Mason was pulled after the Sharks’ fifth goal. At the time, he had allowed five goals on 20 shots.

Joe Thornton quietly picked up four assists — Joe being Joe.

–Ray

October 9, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment