A Fan of the Game

Sports Talk, Straight Talk

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 82

Quite the rip-roaring game for the Sharks as they kept their hot streak alive with a 4-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Things got nasty in the third period and there ended up being 96 penalty minutes.

Gotta love it.

This was a great game for the Sharks all around. They showcased their offense, defense and some heart, giving Sharks fans everywhere hope heading into the playoffs.

It was a playoff atmosphere. The pace started off fast and Vancouver was pressing hard, but the Sharks pushed back and struck first on a Joe Pavelski goal. That goal was all thanks to Ryane Clowe’s boardwork and deking. Clowe’s ripping opponents to pieces on the scoresheet, and he also fought Aaron Rome tonight.

Clowe is what we like to call a prototypical hockey player.

San Jose kept the gas pedal down by exploding for three goals in the second period. Logan Couture, Joe Thornton and Manny Malhotra tallied the markers.

Torrey Mitchell assisted on Couture’s and Malhotra’s goals, which gave him his first multi-point game of his career. Torrey is officially back.

The third period is where things got scrappy. The Sharks took three penalties in quick succession to put Vancouver on a decade-long power play. And guess what? The Sharks killed it all off behind spectacular goaltending by Evgeni Nabokov.

After Jamie McGinn skated out of the penalty box, he had an altercation with one of the Sedins, and McGinn received a ten-minute misconduct for some odd reason. That’s what sparked everything.

Devin, we're back in first in the West. Show me your "O" face! (From SJSHARKS.com)

Scott Nichol cross-checked Mikael Samuelsson in the back, who dived like a little punk. When Samuelsson came back, he tried to stir the pot with Rob Blake, and Blake proceeded to punch him right in the face.

Samuelsson is a wuss. I’ve never liked him — to me he was never a Shark — which stems from his Red Wing days. He’s just an annoying pest who can’t take physicality. Much like the entire Canuck team and his former Detroit team.

Joe Thornton was getting into it with a Sedin, still talking trash for some reason. These Sedins really need to shut their mouths before they get hurt. Yap yap yap all you want twins, but someone is going to wreck you with a giant hip check one day.

Sensing that his meatball-less teammates were in trouble, Alexandre Burrows blatantly interfered with Thornton. That started a pile up, with Thornton in the middle throwing punches and ripping the helmet off a Sedin (as you can tell, I don’t know which twin but it really doesn’t matter).

Niclas Wallin and Ryan Kesler actually dropped the gloves, but it was a nice, cozy bearhug.

After all of this, the Canucks finally got on the board and ended Nabby’s shutout. Vancouver scored again soon after to actually make it a game.

Knowing that it wasn’t over, the Sharks calmed down and locked the game down for good.

This is the kind of game I’ve been wanting to see for a while now. I mentioned a while back how I wanted to see a brawl and the team needed it. Well, this was close enough and when you see Thornton getting in the mix, it always bodes well.

It would have been a good last regular season game, but there’s still one more.

Three teams in the West are tied with 98 points, so it’s still a mystery as to who the Sharks will play. The Kings, Predators or Avalanche are fine, but not Detroit. I hear some talk of “you shouldn’t be afraid of Detroit and to face them early.”

Yea, about that. I’ll take the easiest road possible to the Stanley Cup, thanks. While there would be no doubt of an explosion of optimism if the Sharks could beat the Wings in the first round, I don’t want to take chances. I’m sure people were saying similar things about the Ducks last year — anybody but Anaheim. Look what happened there.

Seto’s effort

This is worth mentioning: in the third period, Devin Setoguchi blocked a shot, took it and skated all the way down the ice, and put a shot on goal. That block had to have hurt, but he sucked it up and started a dangerous forecheck. That counts as a point in my book.

Right Wing Jason Demers?

Coach Todd McLellan is experimenting with Demers up front with Nichol and McGinn. It’s not permanent as he does play some defense during the game, but I like the concept. It’s like a mini Dan Boyle playing forward.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 22  VAN 16; Setoguchi and Pavelski both had three.

The Sharks finish the regular season with a home game against Phoenix, Saturday.

–Ray

April 9, 2010 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 42

Quite the retribution game for the Sharks as the demolished the Washington Capitals 5-2. Three Sharks missed the first meeting between these two teams — Joe Pavelski, Douglas Murray and Torrey Mitchell. All of them made a huge impact on the game.

Joe Pavelski used his insanely accurate shot to score twice and Douglas Murray shut down Alex Ovechkin for most of the game although OV scored at the end. Mitchell notched his first goal of the season in the first period.

Ovechkin became frustrated in the third trying to drop the gloves with Dan Boyle and getting into it with Murray. That just means the Sharks’ gameplan worked amazingly.

Some Sharks fans were booing Ovechkin every time he touched the puck. I have no clue what that was about; he isn’t Chris Pronger; he hasn’t cheap-shotted any Sharks before; there’s no bad blood. It really disappointed me that some of the Sharks fans did that. Now if they booed Crosby, that would be completely different!

What was odd tonight was the Sharks received two penalty shot opportunities and buried both of them. Ryane Clowe took the first one in the second and used his patented forehand-backhand move to beat young goalie Michal Neuvirth.

Get up man. This is no place for a Playboy pose. (From SJSHARKS.com)

Joe Thornton converted the second chance in the third to seal the game.

The turning point in tonight’s game, though, came at the start of the second period. The Caps got a quick five-on-three chance followed by another power-play, but the Sharks’ penalty kill stifled Washington.

The Sharks are showing no signs of slowing down. They’ve brought their A-game throughout the holidays, and this marks the sixth straight victory.

He Said What?

Capitals analyst Craig Laughlin said Dan Boyle was just a tad bit better than Caps defenseman Mike Green. Yea, right. Boyle is astronomically better.

Stat Central

The Sharks haven’t allowed a first-period goal in seven straight games.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 32  WSH 46; Murray led the team with four.

The Sharks have to turn around quickly and play an early game tomorrow versus Phoenix.

–Ray

December 31, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Sharks Report I

6-1.

That is the Sharks record thus far, going into tonight’s matchup against the Florida Panthers. The Sharks are in the midst of their East Coast swing and the spotlight will be on Dan Boyle and Brad Lukowich when they head back to Tampa Bay for a game against the Lightning. The Sharks are coming off a thrilling 7-6 victory over the Flyers, via shootout.

Sharks forward Devin Setoguchi scores on Flyer goalie Antero Nittymaki, as captain Mike Richards looks on

Sharks forward Devin Setoguchi scores on Flyer goalie Antero Nittymaki, as captain Mike Richards looks on

The 2008-09 Sharks look extremely formidable. Under new coach Todd McClellan, I can clearly see the difference in style of play, and it is paying huge dividends. Gone are the old Ron Wilson days of dump and chase and don’t shoot unless you see the whole net (exaggeration). All the players are working hard for every puck and through every scrum. I’ll highlight some stats the Sharks have put up this year, good and bad:

34.9 Shots per Game (2nd in NHL) 244 Total Shots (2nd in NHL)

This is one of my favorite stats to see. Last year was so irritating seeing our total shots only end up in the teens. Because of that we hardly scored 3+ goals, even with all of our talent. McClellan has come in and implemented an excellent, and quite obvious strategy that everyone should use. More shots = more goals. Simple as that. The defense has been instrumental in this statistic. Rob Blake and Dan Boyle on the point for the powerplay has been fun to watch. Blake’s shot is a fantastic addition to the PP. Ehrhoff is no longer the lone powerful D-man shot.

169 Total Hits (4th in NHL)

This stat tells me the Sharks are constantly forechecking and keeping up the pressure, and they are actually using their size to their advantage!! Something they wouldn’t do under Ron Wilson.

Faceoff Percentage 56.4% (1st in NHL) Marleau 63.4% (3rd in NHL)

Great stat right here. If you are going to have a consistent forecheck, you must be able to win faceoffs in the offensive zone. San Jose is doing it, and doing it well. This also shows that Marleau is being the player he should be. Being the captain, and helping his teammates get the puck and put it in the net. On that note:

Marleau: Points 8, Goals 4, Assists 4

The captain is doing his job. No slump here. With the media constantly on Patty’s case, it is great to see him rebound from a sub-par year to being on fire. Now, those stats only put him in the lower half of the top 20, but there is a reason for that. The Sharks are getting scoring from everywhere. Every player who has played for the Sharks this year has a shot on goal, even Alexei Semenov. That is amazing stuff. Marleau has 26 shots, as do Rob Blake and Devin Setoguchi. More shots = more goals. Philosophy holds.

No Shark is in the top 30 of total ice time per game

McClellan is rolling all four lines, and not changing lines very much. Last year, Wilson would change lines, oh I don’t know, about 60 times a game until they scored. That is ridiculous. McClellan is preaching patience, and although that is hard to learn, the Sharks are responding. Everyone is staying fresh and ready to go when their name is called. This will bode well for games in March and April, when you need to bring it even more every night.

Power Play 16.2% (16th in NHL) Penalty Kill 79.3% (19th in NHL) 8th in NHL – Power Play Opportunities

Here is the Sharks’ problem. Special teams is not helping them, and letting other teams get back into games. Being in the bottom half of both special teams stats is troubling for a fan to see. The thing I would suggest here is to get more screening going. They have gotten better at it, but still seem a little hesitant on the power play. Make Ryane Clowe watch a 24-hour video on Tomas Holmstrom. He is the guy that needs to pull up a chair in front of the goalie. Joe Thornton should stay there and then you need another dangler/shooter. Cheechoo or Pavelski would be a good addition there. As for the backline, Boyle and Blake should stay. If there continues to be problems, switch it up and try Ehrhoff or Vlasic (to allow no more shorthanded goals).

73 Giveaways 41 Takeaways

This is a tricky stat. I think the giveaways stem from a lot of time in the offensive zone, so there is more of a chance to turn the puck over. Still, protect the puck better and don’t make dumb passes to the middle when no one is there. Cut down that number 73, it does not look good, and another reason why Jeff Carter score 2 SHG on the Sharks on back-to-back nights.

It really is great to see the Sharks show some actual character. When their opponent scores they don’t give up anymore, and when they get ahead by 2, they don’t relax. I cannot tell you how many times I saw that last year. Keep up that pressure, and don’t blow leads. I think McClellan is doing an excellent job so far with the Sharks’ 6-1 record. Continue to progress, evolve, and gel into the best hockey team possible. First thing’s first. Take care of Florida tonight.

– Ray

October 24, 2008 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment