A Fan of the Game

Sports Talk, Straight Talk

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

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February 11, 2010 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Column: Miami overhyped

This is the full version of my column in the Collegiate Times:

Column: Miami Overhyped

Ray Nimmo

For the last several years, when the University of Miami wins a game, the media proclaims the U is back.

And unfortunately for Hurricanes fans, the U never really is back.

Once again, the media jumped on the Canes bandwagon following Miami’s 33-17 rout of Georgia Tech last Thursday.

Jacory Harris

Miami quarterback Jacory Harris

Sure, Canes quarterback Jacory Harris was 20-25 with 270 yards passing and threw 3 touchdowns, but the Yellow Jackets’ passing defense ranks 85th in the NCAA.

In Georgia Tech’s first game, they allowed Jacksonville State quarterback Marques Ivory to be 23-38 and throw 193 yards and two touchdowns.

So before crowning Harris as the next Jim Kelly or Vinny Testaverde, gain some perspective.

The first game Harris played this season against Florida State could easily have been a loss for the Canes; however, it quickly turned into a Harris lovefest.

Harris threw two interceptions in the contest, bringing his career total to nine compared with 17 touchdowns. When Harris faces a real defense on Saturday, people will find out just how good he is.

Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster will have his crew ready for the biggest Atlantic Coast Conference game of the year.

Harris has only been sacked once this year and hasn’t faced much pressure from defenses. Expect a lot of blitz packages and pressure from defensive end Jason Worilds. The Hokies will get to the quarterback and force Harris to make bad decisions.

It will then be up to the ball-hawking secondary to make the necessary plays to shutdown Miami’s speedy wide receivers.

There are a few problems, though.

While the defensive gameplan will, without a doubt, be an excellent counter to Miami’s offense, the execution is in question.

The Hokies defense has not performed up to typical lunch pail standards.

Tech is ranked 77th in total defense. They haven’t been out of the top-10 in that category since 2003.

Pinpointing the problem is nevertheless difficult.

The young linebacking corps? Injuries in the secondary? Defensive line not living up to the billing?

What about the offense? Because of their impotence and consistent three-and-out play, the defense must be on the field for more than half the game. Look back to the Alabama game. When was the last time you saw a Tech defense that worn out at the end of a game?

These are some of the best athletes in the country, and there is no excuse for being that tired with the high-class conditioning that goes on at Tech.

The defense did answer the bell against Nebraska by not allowing a touchdown, and employing a bend-but-

Virginia Tech vs. Miami

Virginia Tech vs. Miami

don’t-break mentality.

Miami is not Nebraska, though. The Canes may actually have better athletes the Alabama and Nebraska, so it’s paramount the offense find a rhythm early to keep the defense well-rested.

This game has much bigger implications than the previous three. This one counts. No excuses. With Miami being in the Coastal Division and already boasting a 2-0 record in the ACC, this game could very well decide the Hokies’ ACC title hopes.

The players and coaches know it, though.

“This game might as well be the ACC Championship game,” running back Ryan Williams said. “It’s big for us. It’s real big for us. We have to come out fighting strong from the first quarter through the fourth quarter.”

Coincidentally, Williams grew up a Miami fan, and looked up to previous Canes running backs: Willis McGahee, Clinton Portis and Frank Gore.

Williams has the Miami-type swagger. He showcased it against Nebraska when he did his variation of the “Dirty Bird” touchdown dance—he calls it the “Dirty Hokie.”

Williams redshirted last season and didn’t take part in last year’s 16-14 loss at Miami.

He will be here this time around, in Lane Stadium. The last time the Canes traveled to Blacksburg, the Hokies destroyed them 44-14.

The Canes did take care of the Hokies in 2005, in Lane, 27-7—a game that will hereby be forgotten, but the Hokies are 4-2 against Miami the last six meetings.

Tech knows how to beat the U, and the media has forgotten it. Miami jumped in the rankings from No. 20 to No. 9 in the Associated Press poll this week. With that jump, they leapfrogged No. 11 Tech.

Perhaps someone should notify the authorities the Hokies are three-time ACC champions. Miami has won the ACC championship exactly zero times.

The ACC championship runs through Blacksburg, so don’t sweat the Miami swagger.

Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor

Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor

September 25, 2009 Posted by | Football | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment