A Fan of the Game

Sports Talk, Straight Talk

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 56

Quite the don’t-get-your-hopes-up game as the Sharks staged a three-goal comeback only to fall short in overtime 4-3 to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Sharks finish 1-1-2 against Chicago, which is an incredible disappointment. I can already see the bandwagon filling up on both the Blackhawks one and the Sharks-can’t-win-big-games one.

Both probably should be filling up; the Blackhawks once again defeat the “best” Western Conference team, and the Sharks came out to play in sneakers against an elite team.

Four days rest was the devil this time. All that time to focus and plan and winning formula against a Chicago team nearing the end of a long road trip, all went for not. It didn’t help Dan Boyle missed a third-straight game with the always laughable, ambiguous “upper-body injury.”

Chicago came out and took it to the Sharks. Three straight goals in the first 8:23. Yippee ki-yay! I seriously thought this would be a Sharks blowout, but expect the unexpected I always say — or should have.

So down 0-3, I’m thinking this is going to be like the 9-4 win over Detroit a few years back. Yea, nine straight goals ain’t too hard for this team. They scored nine not too long ago against Calgary.

Goal Joe Pavelski. OK, here we go. Just like Mike Grier did against Detroit. Get that first goal before intermission. This will turn the tide teal.

Peek-a-boo! I see you! (From SJSHARKS.com)

Move to the second. Goal Pavelski. Yep, I’m right bro’s. Here comes the comeback.

Goal Manny Malhotra. I must be Nostradamus. Tie game. Pack it up. Here comes six more goals.

Third period. Whoa whoa, Chicago. What are you doing? Trying? That’s not right. I am the Mayan calendar. You do not defy me!

Sharks can’t clear. You could defy me. Sharks still can’t clear and Marleau is flopping around with no stick. You might defy me. Chicago shooting the puck easily. You probably will defy me. With less than two minutes to go, the Sharks take a penalty — only their second of the game. You will defy me.

Unbelievable. The Sharks did manage to hold off the inevitable by killing that penalty, but we all know by now what the Sharks do in overtime. PRE-VENT OF-FENSE, clap-clap, clap-clap-clap.

Joe Thornton decided it’d be best to miss a wide-open net. Following a Sharks turnover, the Hawks scored and sent their bandwagon fans off into the illegitimate sunset. Fan-freaking-tastic.

I’m not sure what’s more deflating — a 7-2 loss or a three-goal comeback only to lose in overtime. You tell me.

Some positives: Logan Couture was called up for this game and played well. He played alongside Jody Shelley and Torrey Mitchell. They stuck to the game plan of getting it deep and keeping it there. Shelley mentioned it in a pregame interview: if you’re in the defensive zone, get it out, the neutral zone, get it in, the offensive zone, keep it in and create chances. Glad to see one line stick to that plan from start to finish.

Pavsleki has five goals and six games. Unfortunately, his hot streak couldn’t solve the Sharks defensive zone problems.

Let’s talk about the more interesting aspect of this game: the negatives. Joe Thornton was terrible. His passes looked like they game off a rubber hose. He passed to Hawks players all night long. He coasted through the night thinking about what photo angle his abs would look best in.

The Sharks can’t clear the puck. This has been mentioned numerous times here on ITSC. I say build a brick wall on the blueline and leave one brick out. Force the players to clear the puck through that tiny hole. Maybe that’ll help them stop clearing the puck right at opposing players. Come on guys. Look for the actual holes in the defense.

The crowd was the worst all season. Man, do I love Sharks fans. They’re incredibly loyal. But tonight, I think someone gave them seditives because there was no noise to speak of. And no, this is not because of Chicago’s 3-0 lead. When the game started, no creature was stirring, not even a mouse. I hear about this marquee matchup all week long — I’m sure they did too — and they come out like a bunch of mutes? Please. If you aren’t going to lose your voice, don’t show up. How ’bout ‘dat, yo?

Injuries!

Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game with an undisclosed injury. He didn’t come back. He better come back. I don’t want no Derek Joslin coming up and ruining my life.

Douglas Murray got injured blocking a shot I believe and left temporarily. He came back though and looked fine. Good news.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 22  CHI 20; Ryane Clowe led with five.

San Jose lost the faceoff battle by a decisive 58%-42% margin. Malhotra was 29%! Wow. One of the best faceoff men in the league got wrecked.

The Minnesota Wild are the next foes as they come to town on Saturday.

–Ray

January 29, 2010 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 5

Quite the deflating performance for the Sharks in tonight’s 6-4 loss to the Los Angeles Kings. I use the term deflating because the Sharks went down 0-4, came back to tie it 4-4, only to have a goal scored on them from behind the goal line. It ruined all emotion, including the elation of Dany Heatley’s first goal as a Shark.

I’m also using the rather tame word “deflating” because the offense — particularly the top line — played well and the power play showed up tonight and dominated. San Jose was 4-6 with the man advantage, with Devin Setoguchi scoring two, Heatley with one, and Rob Blake with one.

Now that the good is out of the way, time for some ripping.

The defensemen were awful in every sense of the word, with the exception of Jason Demers and maybe Blake. There were lambasted by the Kings forwards and the dmen had no communication at all. I think three of the Kings goals came from a weak-side forward who was wide open. Inexcusable. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was at fault for allowing the first goal. He tightened up a bit after that goal, but then sunk back into terrible positioning.

Jason Demers goes to the net hard (From NHL.com)

Jason Demers goes to the net hard (From NHL.com)

Douglas Murray and Dan Boyle allowed Ryan Smyth to punch in a garbage goal, weak-side for the second goal. I don’t know how you leave Smyth of all people wide open, as he’s known for being in front of the net.

Murray wasn’t done yet, though! He allowed Jack Johnson to skate right by him and into the front of the crease. Johnson batted a puck out of the air into the net. After the play, Murray gave a little shrug — oh the nerve. It was a pitiful effort by him all night.

The fourth goal was all Nabokov’s fault. Anze Kopitar shot a wicked wrister from just inside the blue line. With that much space, you must pick up the puck in that amount of time. Thankfully, Nabby was pulled after that one in favor of Thomas Greiss. While the dmen were mostly at fault for the previous goals, Nabby has to be a vocal leader back there directing traffic. He is to blame as well.

After the comeback, LA won a faceoff and Teddy Purcell carried the puck BEHIND the goal line, shot it at Greiss’ pads and the puck went in. That is horrid/disgusting/embrarrassing. An NHL goalie can never allow that to happen. Pay attention! What’s so hard about that? Besides that, Greiss didn’t play too bad, making some key saves to preserve that comeback.

Some other notes

Ryane Clowe was abhorrent — completely atrocious. I have no clue what got into him — or out of him in this case — but he did not have anything tonight. His skating was sub-par, his stickhandling was always an adventure (in a bad way) and his decision-making was nauseating. He was always a step behind, passing to Kings players or slipping on the ice. He decided to fight Wayne Simmonds at the end of the game, probably out of frustration from himself, not the team. When walking to the locker room after the fight, he slammed his helmet down. Good. He better. At least he knows he was horrendous.

Manny Malhotra was Clowe Jr. tonight. While not as bad as Clowe, Malhotra played like a slow, full-time AHLer. He actually came out with a firey passion, as did the whole third line, but sadly, it didn’t last. For a faceoff guy, he was second to last in faceoff percentage, with 46%.

Speaking of bad faceoff percentage Patrick Marleau was last with 36%, but this is a different situation. Joe Pavelski injured himself blocking a shot against the Ducks, and will be out for a couple weeks. Marleau moved back to his natural center position tonight, so he probably had some rust. He skated fast as always and played sound defense.

Final thoughts

The Sharks have their home opener against Columbus, Thursday. I hope they can stop being so wishy-washy, and figure out who they are. Individually, players need to limit their mistakes as much as possible. When players have terrible nights like Clowe, coach Todd McClellan needs to pull the plug fast and limit ice time.

October 7, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment