A Fan of the Game

Sports Talk, Straight Talk

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 52

Quite the absolute annihilation, destruction and obliteration tonight as the Sharks pummeled the Calgary Flames 9-1. Nine players had multi-point nights, and eight different players scored a goal. Joe Pavelski led the pack with four points (1 goal, 3 assists).

Coach Todd McLellan’s decision to move Ryane Clowe down one line and bring Manny Malhotra up one line might be the best idea of the season.

He wanted secondary scoring, and boy did he get it. Only two goals came from the top line. Scott Nichol and Jed Ortmeyer both amassed three points, and linemate Clowe added two more for a total of eight points. I never thought I’d see the third line do that — not even on their best night.

Maybe Devin Setoguchi breaking his scoring drought opened the flood gates for the rest of the team. It was Ortmeyer’s first goal in 28 games and Nichol’s first goal since November 17. Let’s hope they save some of this firepower for the playoffs.

The second line notched eight points (3 goals, 5 assists). This is an oddity because Joe Pavelski and Manny Malhotra are both natural centers. They’re playing off each other so well, though. Pavs takes faceoffs on the right side; Malhotra takes them on the left side. Add in their domination of the faceoff circle, and the second line is almost guaranteed to start with the puck.

This is what happens when an unstoppable force and an immovable object have a baby. (From SJSHARKS.com)

Only four players failed to get a point, but they contributed as well. Torrey Mitchell fought Rene Bourque late in the game, Jody Shelley had four hits, Marc-Edouard Vlasic was a +2 and Kent Huskins was a +3.

This was the worst I’ve seen the Flames in a long time. I can’t tell you how much I love pounding Alberta teams into the dirt. Granted the Flames played the previous night, but this was a team who gave up early on. Goalie Mikka Kiprusoff became Mikka Kovalev with his lack of effort.

By the way, the Oilers got crushed 6-0, so Alberta lost tonight by a total of 15-1. That’s just plain redonkulous.

It’s about time the Sharks crushed someone like this; they’ve usually been on the wrong side of these games. Unfortunately, the Sharks couldn’t score one more, much to the chagrin of the fans who chanted “we-want-10!”

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 34  CGY 30; Brad Staubitz led with seven. Bitz also fought Brandon Prust early on in the game.

The Sharks travel to Los Angeles tomorrow to take on the Kings.

–Ray

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January 19, 2010 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 46

Quite the insipid performance by the Sharks in their 2-1 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues. After coming off a blowout loss to the Kings, I expected a bit more heart tonight. There wasn’t much intelligence either.

The Sharks had over 40 shots for the second straight game with the final shot clock being 44-29, but like so many times last year, shots were taken with no traffic in front of the goalie. Chris Mason saw every shot that came to him and didn’t give up many rebounds. Instead of planting themselves right in Mason’s eyes, they’d stay off to the side waiting for a rebound off his pads. That’s just being lazy and cowardly. Maybe Dan Boyle getting hit in the face with the puck earlier in the game got to them, but that’s not an excuse.

For the first time in years, Patrick Marleau was playing really bad. His passes were off the mark and careless. He just didn’t have it. However, he made up for it with in the third period with the game-tying goal. It came off a one-timer from the point that deflected past Mason.

Not too long after that, the Sharks had a fantastic chance to take the lead. The puck flew into the air after a shot, landed behind Mason and was just asking to be slammed home. Barret Jackman, defenseman for the Blues, put his hand over the puck to keep it out — a penalty that should be rewarded with a penalty shot. Of course the referees didn’t see it despite one being right behind the net. Karma’s gotta kick in though right?

It would in overtime. Dany Heatley found himself on a breakaway with a minute left in the extra frame; he sped away from defenders and buried it in the twine.

Hey Winchester, those croissants go right to hips, ya? (From SJSHARKS.com)

That was all fine and dandy, but the four minutes before that, the Sharks played to not lose. I’ve mentioned it before, but something is going on with this prevent defense in overtime. I’d like to know if its coach Todd McLellan’s philosophy or just the players being too tentative. The fans actually started to boo them, which was spectacular. At least they recognize it as well.

This isn’t the way to rebound from a bad loss, but it’s a starting point. And the Sharks better speed up to the finish line because there’s a showdown with Detroit on Saturday.

Spelling Error

So I realized the other day I’ve been spelling Todd McLellan’s name wrong. I’ve been spelling it with an extra ‘C’ because I saw it like that when he first became coach. I don’t know where I saw it, but it’s stuck with me. My brain’s been so used to it, I’ve not noticed the correct spelling. Well, something clicked and I saw it yesterday. I verified it, and now I feel like an idiot. Mistakes happen to everyone I guess.

Torrey Mitchell

He’s been getting good amounts of ice time on the power play lately. Not just seconds at the end either. He’s been playing with Marleau and Heatley. It’s been a good combination as he complements their talent with hard work and determination.

Finally A Fight!

Jody Shelley dropped the gloves with Cam Janssen, in the second period, for a 90 second slugfest. Jersey jabs galore and a few attempted haymakers. Shelley handled Cam pretty well and earned the win.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 29  StL 23; Devin Setoguchi led with five.

Giveaways: SJ 20  StL 6; Yikes. That’s a scary statistic.

Detroit comes to town on Saturday.

–Ray

January 7, 2010 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 45

Quite the wtf game for the Sharks as they lost miserably to the Los Angeles Kings 6-2. Despite outshooting the Kings 47-20, the Sharks couldn’t solve LA goalie Jonathan Quick or make up for their defensive lapses.

Things looked good early for the Sharks. Torrey Mitchell was on the power play and working hard with Devin Setoguchi. The forecheck looked strong, but the Kings struck first when no one marked Michal Handzus, who scored on a wraparound.

Two LA power play goals would follow on similar defensive lapses. Nobody wanted to mark their man or take proper position. It looked like the beginning of the season all over again, as well as the first game against Los Angeles where the Sharks were destroyed.

In the second, the Sharks put their best shots on Quick but nothing would get past him. Quick is something like 3-0-1 against the Sharks now. They really don’t need another Pacific Division goalie giving them problems. Two more LA goals in the period made the score 5-0.

So coach Todd McClellan decided to pull Evgeni Nabokov and try Thomas Greiss in goal to start the third. Thirteen seconds later it was 6-0. Yikes. Credit Greiss, though; he didn’t allow another goal, and the Sharks put two goals on the board to avoid the shutout. (Douglas Murray and Patrick Marleau scored.)

Is this open enough for you guys to score? (From SJSHARKS.com)

We all know this next statement was coming so let’s get right to it. The Sharks were 7-0 with Jason Demers back in the lineup, and now they’re 1-1 since sending him down. What in the world has to happen for the Sharks coaches and management to realize they win games with Demers in the lineup. You are not getting different results by taking him out. You keep losing. For the love of all that is holy, call him up and keep him there. Get it through your thick skulls. Sheesh.

I’d also like to address what a bunch of terrible announcers LA has. The analyst took it upon himself to mock the “Beat LA” chant at the end of the game. Yea, you wouldn’t do that at the beginning of the game would you tough guy? Very professional of you. That’s why the only job you could get was on a terrible franchise’s broadcasting team. We’ll see where your team is come playoff time. Probably on the couches, but if by some divine intervention the Kings make the playoffs, enjoy your first-round exit.

No Fights

In a game like this, I would expect someone to step up and fight, but no one did. Instead of opening the second period with a message, you guys waited to the third to make a goalie change. That was your message? Come on. Jody Shelley and Brad Staubitz should have dropped the gloves. What’s wrong with you guys? Did the long layoff make you soft? That is what you are a Shark for; otherwise, demote yourselves to Worcester.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 19  LA 13; Three players had three hits each.

This ends the Sharks eight-game winning streak, and the three first-period goals ends a 10-game streak without allowing one.

The Sharks were No. 2 in penalty killing. They allowed three power play goals tonight.

The Sharks get a chance to rebound, Wednesday, against St. Louis.

–Ray

January 5, 2010 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 44

Quite the facile game for the Sharks as they easily dispatched the Edmonton Oilers, 4-1. There was no doubt about the outcome tonight. The Sharks imposed their will on the wounded Oilers.

Three Sharks were back in the lineup for the first time in a long time: Brad Staubitz, Jody Shelley and Jay Leach. They replaced Manny Malhotra who is injured, Frazer McLaren and Jason Demers who were sent down. Demers was sent all the way down to the ECHL for some reason. I assume for money reasons and convenience since the ECHL affiliate is in California.

All three made a noticeable impact. Leach fought Steve Staios late in the game, but there’s nothing much to report though as it was a bear hug match. Shelley led the team with seven hits, and Staubitz had an assist.

Woohoo! This is too easy, guys! (From NHL.com)

Despite sloppy passes early, the Sharks struck first with Jamie McGinn and Douglas Murray four minutes apart. Both goals started off hard work and sheer will. I never grow tired of seeing battling like that.

San Jose tightened its grip with two more goals in the second period by Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau, proving that the top line can score along with the secondary lines.

Also in the second, Ryane Clowe destroyed Jason Strudwick in a fight with an enormous uppercut.

There’s not much else to say about this game; it’s just one of those easy games that great teams are supposed to win. The Sharks came out, did not look past their opponent, and put them away early.

Perhaps it’s a good tune-up/confidence-builder heading into a big showdown with Los Angeles on Monday.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 30  EDM 38; Shelley led the team with seven.

The Sharks have now won eight games in a row.

As I said, the Kings come to town on Monday. The Sharks are 1-1-1 against the Kings this season.

–Ray

January 3, 2010 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 31

Quite the fun game tonight as the Sharks defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-2. Dany Heatley played his former team for the first time, as did Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo.

Things were very spirited in the first period. Those three players definitely tried to make statements to their former clubs, and one was very successful.

Michalek netted two goals, so as far as I’m concerned, only Sharks scored tonight. He looked like a man on a mission to score. He pushed the Sens’ play and forecheck, constantly battled in front of the net. What else can I say? Milan deserved it. Buuuttt, the Sharks are too good.

A fourth man entered the ring to prove something; Patrick Marleau played his 900th game, all with the Sharks, and showed everyone it was a good decision to not trade him after all these years. He scored two goals as well and almost had a third, but lost the puck on a cut-in towards the net.

It was just a fun game to watch. There wasn’t a shortage of effort, maybe lack of intelligence (I think of one player to be named later), but all the players tried hard.

Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau celebrate after Marleau scores (From SJSHARKS.com)

Frazer McLaren dropped the gloves with Matt Carkner in the first to continue the entertainment. Unfortunately, McLaren dropped another decision. It was close after Carkner ended the fight on purpose by dragging Frazer down, but Carkner had more punches land. Frazer needs to start winning some fights soon and not continue this Jody Shelley syndrome.

Both the second and third periods started off considerably slower than the first period; however, things picked up about halfway through each time.

Ryane Clowe came through with a goal after a tough battle between Manny Malhotra and Sens defenders. My tune is slowly starting to change on Manny. He scored an empty netter tonight and has shown some good speed and toughness lately. But I’m not so quick to change my mind on people. Hopefully this stays consistent.

Thomas Greiss manned the net for the Sharks. He hadn’t started in two weeks so coach Todd McClellan gave Evgeni Nabokov the night off. “Jesus” Greiss sure likes to flail. Reminds me of Magikarp from Pokemon. Both Greiss and Magikarp have one move: Flail. Obviously Greiss is more effective at it. He made some spectacular saves to preserve the lead. This backup situation could get juicy next season. After the Sharks decide whether or not to resign Nabby, will they put all their stock in Greiss as the heir apparent? Or will they look further to stud prospects Alex Stalock and Tyson Sexsmith? Who knows, but that’s getting a little ahead of myself.

The Sharks’ top line of Heatley-Thornton-Marleau amassed six points tonight continuing their William-Sherman-March-to-the-Sea trek torching any team in their path.

Douglas Murray

This guy took three penalties in the third period alone. What in the world was he thinking? Maybe he was excited because his grandfather was watching him play for the first time since he was in college. I don’t know, but regardless, this is the kind of thing that gets you in the coach’s doghouse. I mean, almost half of the period was shorthanded because of Murray. Use your friggin’ head, son.

Cheech ‘n’ Seek

Boy has Cheech ever fallen off the radar. He’s a third-liner in Ottawa and has been reduced to scrubbing the poop deck every game. Long gone are the days of him scoring 50 goals. Poor Cheech. Guess you really find out how good Joe Thornton is when the sniper leaves Jumbo’s side.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 21  OTT 18; Scott Nichol (4) and Devin Setoguchi (3) led the team.

Seto and Torrey Mitchell aren’t getting much important action on the fourth line. Torrey received an extra minute compared to last game and Seto’s ice time was decreased. I wonder how much rust these two actually accumulated, because I think we all know these guys are much better than fourth liners. Patience is a virtue I guess. Can’t wait to see them fully recovered.

The Sharks play St. Louis on Thursday.

–Ray

December 2, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 30

Quite the just-like-old-times performance for the Sharks in their 4-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. The Sharks roster finally looked like it should be with a couple exceptions. And with the added aspect of facing former Sharks, Christian Ehrhoff and Steve Bernier, it was a reunion of sorts.

Got to mention the injuries, returns and transactions. Devin Setoguchi and Rob Blake returned to the lineup tonight; Benn Ferriero and Jason Demers were sent down to Worcester because of that. Of course this was Torrey Mitchell’s second game back so he’s still getting used to NHL-level speed.

Jody Shelley and Brad Staubitz are still out with injuries, so Frazer McLaren played on the fourth line. Derek Joslin retained his spot on the defense upon Demers’ reassignment.

OK so the game — a slow back-and-forth game. One team would control for 10 minutes, then things would switch. Vancouver got on the board early in the first and controlled the play. McLaren scored his first NHL goal to tie things up before the first ended. He took a big hit behind the goal-line but stayed on his feet and kept his stick on the ice. Joe Pavelski found him and it was an easy tip-in. Glad to see Frazer add his name to the list of first-time scorers this season; Ferriero, McLaren, Demers, Logan Couture and Ryan Vesce all have scored their first NHL goal so far this season.

The Sharks dominated the second period, outshooting Vancouver 15-4; however, they only managed one goal, which came from Dan Boyle on the power play. It was a cool goal to watch on the replay because you saw how much Boyle moves on the man-advantage. One second he would be up high at the point, five seconds later he was down low. Always keeps his skates moving in a very fluid motion.

Captain Rob Blake made his return against Vancouver (From SJSHARKS.com)

San Jose backed off during the last frame but withstood a fierce Canucks forecheck. The Sharks capitalized on a counterattack, as Manny Malhotra deked — yes deked — goalie Roberto Luongo fairly easily. Thirteen seconds later Jamie McGinn notched his fourth goal of the season after Jed Ortmeyer battled beyond the goal line and sent the puck to the crease.

Let’s go back to the decision to send Demers down to Worcester. Coach Todd McClellan cited bad play in the defensive zone as the reason for the reassignment. Demers and Joslin were battling for the final defenseman spot with Rob Blake returning and T-Mac said Joslin played better over the last 10 games. Demers has definitely not played up to par lately. I think back to last game where Demers attempted a stretch pass only to have it intercepted and turned into an Edmonton goal.

T-Mac said before he likes how Demers takes risks, and now he’s going back on that? I don’t get it. Demers is clearly learning from Boyle how to be an offensive threat and doing a pretty good job at it. He has one goal and 12 assists in 27 games. He’s been one of the league’s most surprising rookies and you choose Joslin over Demers? I’m sorry, but this is a dumb move by T-Mac. Joslin is a joke of a player and isn’t going to amount to anything.

Perhaps it will help Demers not to play with Kent Huskins and actually someone good down in Worcester. Huskins was on the power play tonight again. Stop doing that T-Mac. Just stop. Demers needs to be on the power play and Huskins needs to be sent down. No one will claim him off waivers.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 16  VAN 14; Jamie McGinn (4) and Devin Setoguchi (3) led the team.

The Sharks wrap up November with a 9-2-3 record and are the first team to reach 40 points.

All eyes will be on San Jose on Tuesday when the Sharks battle the Ottawa Senators. Dany Heatley versus his ex-girlfriend. Should be good.

–Ray

 

November 30, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 28

DISCLAIMER: Minor language. Proceed with caution.

Quite the piss poor, I-feel-like-disowning-you “performance” by the Sharks in their 7-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Sharks should have just stayed home in their cribs and choked on their pacifiers rather than “play” tonight.

Joe Thornton: Hey guys, let’s step on the ice.

*SILENCE*

Team: …and do what Jumbo? Are you going to finish that thought?

Thornton: Ya know, step on the ice and succeed with good ol’ fashioned California chillin’.

Team: OMFG, you iz brilliant Jumbo! Why didnt us think of that?! LOLZ.

Give me a damn break. This was disgusting. Absolutely putrid. Um, helllllooooo? Um, hi? You little children play professional hockey. Sounds kinda cool when you think about it. How about you actually play the game. And try. Just try.

What the hell happened during this long layoff to make the Sharks play like a beer league team? They allowed three, THREE shorthanded goals. Two of them were on the same power play!

Nobody wanted to play, everyone played with jocks on their heads. Turnover after turnover, fail after fail. If there was any doubt left about our defense, those were put to rest. From now on, if anyone tells you the Sharks defense is good, go ahead and tell them to remove their secret Ducks jersey or to go watch the NBA.

What a joke. Jason Demers played his worst game of his career. Dan Boyle felt like playing with an injured foot because this was a big game. He did end up scoring very late in the game, but it’s refreshing to know he waited 56 minutes to do something with his life. He finished with a -4 rating.

Also joining Pimple — I mean Boyle — with a -4 rating were Thornton and Dany Heatley. For all the great stuff they’ve done recently, this game shat all over it. Good gracious, it was atrocious. They must be stunned to know you have to play defense too. What a concept!

Manny Malhotra does his best pylon impression (From NHL.com)

With five minutes left to go in the second period, the shots were 26-7 Chicago. What in the blue hell is that about? Seven shots after 35 minutes? I could get eight shots on net by doing cartwheels the whole time.

At that time it was 4-0 and after the fourth, Ryane Clowe took it upon his messed-up-nose self to take a penalty. Brilliant. What a smart hockey player. Take a penalty and you show those bad guys you can beat them even with a man down. Ryane Clown. Blow me up a balloon while you make a joke of yourself.

Let’s go ahead and give credit to Chicago. They came in with an exceptional gameplan and their coach Joel Quenneville and perfected it. Sharks coach Todd McClellan was lost in the Tao of Joel’s stache.

This is the Blackhawks’ eighth win in a row and they’re no signs of slowing down.

LOL WUT?

Frazer McLaren managed a +1 for the Sharks. Ha ha ha ha.

AHL

Five AHL players were in the lineup: Jamie McGinn, Benn Ferriero, McLaren, Steven Zalewski and Derek Joslin. Certainly looked like Worcester was playing.

Kent friggin’ Huskins…

…was on the power play. Yes. On the power play and caused the turnover that led to a Chicago goal. Don’t EVER put that guy on the PP again.

Optimism Corner

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 26  CHI 17

Faceoff Percentage: SJ 56%  CHI 44%

The game ended.

Other Dreadful Notes

The Sharks’ injuries are plaguing them so badly now. Rob Blake, Devin Setoguchi, Jody Shelley, Brad Staubitz, Torrey Mitchell need to come back.

Per NHL rules, the Sharks are required to play again. They play Edmonton in Edmonton, Friday.

–Ray

November 26, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment