A Fan of the Game

Sports Talk, Straight Talk

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 68

Quite the Jack-in-the-Box game for the Sharks as they exploded in the third period and beat the Nashville Predators 8-5. Yes, there really were 13 goals scored tonight.

It was great watching Nashville practice for 40 minutes; we were all treated to an inter-squad scrimmage. Oh wait, hold on. My sources are telling me the Sharks were actually on the ice for those first 40 minutes. Who knew?

Nashville outshot the Sharks 15-0 in the first 14 minutes of play and outscored 1-0. This crappy play needs to stop. We’ll obviously get to the outstanding third period in a minute, but zoinks this was bad. Preds goalie Dan Ellis vacationed in Cancun, Mexico for a majority of that first frame.

Lo and behold Dany Heatley scored on the Sharks’ first shot of the game.

That didn’t do much for momentum, however, as the Sharks continued popping out rotten eggs like Jon and Kate, in the second period. Nashville increased their lead to 4-2 heading into the final period.

With the music finally exhausted, the weasel popped and jack thrust himself into the world. A six-goal period propelled San Jose to victory. I wonder what coach Todd McLellan said to the guys. Cap that stuff in a bottle and save it for the playoffs, buddy.

Joe Pavelski became a one-man demolition sqaud with four points in twenty minutes (two goals, two assists). Heatley scored his second, Manny Malhotra, Patrick Marleau and Jay Leach tallied goals as well.

It’s the Sharks’ 22nd come-from-behind win, which is now first in the NHL.

Torrey Mitchell received additional playing time, playing alongside Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau at different points in the game. He earned an assist tonight.

I really couldn’t believe that third period. I was chomping at the bit to rip the team for their sorry performances the last seven games or so. They need to finish this homestand off with another win before heading out on a six-game road trip. A winning streak is in the future for this team. I think this is the victory that will spark it.

Nichol/Superman returned to whip his old team again (From SJSHARKS.com)

Who’s Your Nabby?

So I read this article the other day from a Sharks fan about how Nabby’s increased playing time is hurting the Sharks in the playoffs. The horse is not dead yet apparently. The article came complete with pretty-colored line graphs! Oh how I love the visuals. Unfortunately, the stats presented are meaningless. I absolutely love stats, but I know how much they can be manipulated to make any argument. I’ll now try to show stats that cover both sides of the argument, but ultimately I do have a distinct opinion on the matter.

People need to shut their mouths about Nabby’s starts. Seriously. Shut. Up. I love how people will contend Nabby’s play goes down in the playoffs? Really now? Here’s some stats you might want to consider:

In the regular season Nabby has averaged a .913 save percentage and a 2.37 goals against average. Not great, not bad either.

In the playoffs, Nabby has averaged a .915 save percentage and a 2.23 GAA. WHAT?!! Ray, you mean Nabby has better numbers in the playoffs than the regular season? Blasphemy!

Yes, my friends, he does play better in the playoffs. At least, that’s what stats say. Now the eye test is different. Goalies must be able to elevate their play in the postseason or their teams will be doomed. If the Sharks want to win the Stanley Cup, Nabby must elevate his game higher than what he’s been doing. No question.

I just want to rid the world of these ridiculous “Nabby plays too much,” hollow arguments. I’ve seen a few people suggest we let Nabby go and sign goalies like Martin Biron or Dan Ellis. Some of these Sharks “fans” need to check their drinking water. Let’s get rid of a perennial Vezina candidate in favor of Dan flipping Ellis.

I should probably mention that this whole ‘letting Nabby go’ thing is because the Sharks have no cap space to resign all of their free agents this offseason. Nabby commands¬† a big contract (5.375 mil this year), and Marleau, Pavelski and potentially Blake need to be resigned. Nabby’s contract runs out after this season too, and someone is going to be left out.

San Jose should never have been in this position in the first place. They overpay players like Ryane Clowe (3.625 mil a year) and went out and got Heatley (7.5 mil a year). Trades must happen, regardless if the Sharks win the Cup this year or not. They’re stuck between Douglas Murray and a hard place.

I don’t think letting Nabby go is the right decision. Finding a great goalie is so difficult (just ask Philly), and I’m not ready to rely on Thomas Greiss full time. There are a couple interesting prospects in the system in Alex Stalock and Tyson Sexsmith, but there a long way away from being NHL-ready.

I suggest Thornton or Heatley be traded. Keep Marleau. Thornton will always produce points, but his lack of emotion destroys the team in the playoffs. Heatley is undeniably an elite sniper, but Marleau is better than him defensively and in lighting the lamp (this year).

I’d love to keep this team together, but this money situation sucks. But I’ve digressed.

Here’s an intriguing slew of stats to consider about goalie GAA in the playoffs:

Goalie A: 1.98

Goalie B: 2.09

Goalie C: 2.23

Goalie D: 2.30

Goalie E: 2.45

Obviously, you know which goalie Nabby is (C). The others? A is Brodeur, B is Osgood, D is Roy and E is Fleury. Nabby finds himself in the middle of four Cup winners. I think he’s done just fine; he needs more offensive support to win these games (along with the aforementioned elevation of play).

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 26  NSH 25; Niclas Wallin and Brad Staubitz led with four.

Florida visits the tank on Saturday.

–Ray

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March 12, 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