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. 1

Here it is.

The season is upon us, and the Sharks are set to take ice against the Colorado Avalanche. What seems to be an easy win for San Jose, could easily turn into an ugly affair. With the bottom half of the Sharks offensive line basically brand new, and the addition of Dany Heatley to the top line, chemistry could be a big problem tonight.

Head coach Todd McClellan told the media the bottom 6 players have more grit than last year’s group. I’m trying to figure out how. Last year, Jeremy Roenick, Mike Grier and company seemed to be quite gritty — at least, that’s why management told us. Those players were supposed to be the gritty players we needed to get over the hump. Now we find out they really weren’t gritty enough. Just how exactly do you determine grit? Do you serve the players with bacon, eggs and toast and gauge their reaction?

I keed. I keed.

I was disappointed when McClellan sent Nick Petrecki and Logan Couture back down to Worcester for development. I believe he said they didn’t quite understand the speed of the NHL game. That’s unfortunate. I think we need younger players like that, because right now, the Sharks prospect pool is just deep enough to submerge a puck.

A couple youngsters are still in the running to make the team, though. Defenseman Jason Demers and forward Benn Ferriero remain. I’ve looked at Ferriero as Torrey Mitchell, Jr. A couple years back, Mitchell came out of nowhere to dominate preseason play and so has Ferriero. Both are short, fast and determined. They aren’t calm and collected like most of our top six forwards. Mithcell and Ferriero actually play like it’s their last shift — what I think is the most admirable quality of a hockey player.

Mitchell has tendinitis in his knee and may not be back for a couple weeks, leaving the door open for Ferriero.

As for the Sharks goaltending, I’ve been Evgeni Nabokov’s number one supporter. But his weak goals and 5-hole have weakened me to the point of “eh.” He will play 70+ games barring injury, though, because our young goalie prospects haven’t proven themselves. Goalie is our deepest prospect pool, but the likes of Alex Stalock and Tyson Sexsmith were sent down to Worcester to continue development. That leaves Thomas Greiss, who I have as much confidence in as Katy Perry kissing a girl and not liking it.

Defenseman Rob Blake was named captain of the team yesterday —  a decision a lot of fans don’t like from what I’ve read. Obviously, the team doesn’t see a long-term captain just yet and they want to go with the sure bet. I have no problem with it, especially since Dan Boyle and Joe Thornton will wear A’s. Blake is more than capable and speaks honestly with the media. Boyle does the same so maybe they should have a second C. Regardless, it’s better than having Patrick Marleau as captain. I love Patty, but he was just to quiet and reserved to be captain of a team.

It’s going to be difficult to not think about the playoffs during the 82-game regular season, but I will certainly try to keep things on a game-by-game basis as so many coaches do. (I think we all know that mentality is BS.)

Hopefully, the Sharks can exploit the Avalanche’s weak goaltending and see some offense. With the retiring of Joe Sakic’s jersey tonight, expect a lot more heart from Avs players — for about the first five minutes. Those kind of ceremonies only affect the very beginning of the game, in my opinion.

It’s a shame DirecTV and Versus are still in their childlike squabble, and I have to find some place on the internet broadcasting the game. I’ll cope. Enjoy the games everyone! Hockey’s back!

–Ray

Who’s OUT from last year?

WhosOut

October 1, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment