A Fan of the Game

Sports Talk, Straight Talk

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 76

Quite the vengeance game for the Sharks as they shut out the Dallas Stars 3-0. After last week’s debacle to the Stars, it was great to see the Sharks rebound by blanking them. Enjoy the playoffs from the couch, Stars!

San Jose continued the defensive focus tonight, and with the exception of the early stages of the game, there weren’t many turnovers to report. Hard to believe I know.

The lines were pretty much the same from last time with the big three broken up. I don’t see any reason to bring them back together anytime soon either.

The win helped clinch a playoff spot for the Sharks, but that was already a foregone conclusion. I have this awful feeling the Sharks are going to play Detroit in the first round. That would be the worst luck in the world. I’d much rather see Chicago play them so their fans can endure what we did last year against Anaheim. Bye bye Chicago.

Couture overlooks a dead-looking Turco ready to be buried (From SJSHARKS.com)

It was also goalie Evgeni Nabokov’s 50th career shutout. I’m sure some Sharks fans will say it was bound to happen sooner or later. These would be the same ones saying his play declines with more starts.

Dan Boyle and Rob Blake scored goals in the second period on the power play. Blake was injured at some point during the game as he didn’t play but half a minute in the third. Hopefully, it’s not too serious. The last thing the Sharks need is another defenseman to go down.

Logan Couture scored his second career goal in the third period after Devin Setoguchi made a tough drive to the net. Setoguchi hasn’t been lighting the lamp much at all but his physicality rivals Ryane Clowe this year.

But with all Dallas game, you have to deal with rats like Steve Ott and Stephane Robidas. Robidas already showcased his recklessness last game when he steamrolled Clowe into the boards. This time he went after Couture in the corner and Couture was slow to get up.

It was incredibly disappointing to not see any Shark go after him. This guy deserves some payback and needs his teeth knocked out.

Now Steve Ott thought it would be a good idea to elbow Patrick Marleau in the head behind the play. I am so disgusted by Ott. He is not a hockey player anymore than Lindsay Lohan is straight edge. Ott dropped the gloves with Marleau but Patty was overwhelmed by the goon before he could do anything.

Luckily, Ott was tossed from the game like he should have been. I hope he gets suspended for that elbow; I’m not entirely sure if it was really brutal because the camera didn’t zoom in, but it’d be a good precedent to suspend him following the head shot rule passing today.

A Bitz Late

Brad Staubitz fought Krys Barch in a minor tussle. Bitz got the better of him and took the victory. Been a while since I’ve been able to say that.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 21  DAL 24; Setoguchi led with three.

The Canucks march into town Saturday.

–Ray

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March 26, 2010 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 20

Quite the amazing performance by the Sharks in their dominant 5-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. My hatred for the Penguins may only be matched by my hatred for the Detroit Red Wings, and to see the Penguins demolished was beyond gratifying.

Where to start?

I was definitely wrong about Evgeni Nabokov. I don’t know what conditioning regiment this guy is on, but put the entire team on it. Three games in four nights and he comes out with a shutout. He stopped all 27 shots he faced. Wow. Can’t give him enough credit.

San Jose battled for every puck and came out with it most of the time. No one relaxed much — even after gaining a 4-0 advantage going into the third period.

Jamie McGinn scored the first goal from a bank-in off Marc-Andre Fleury’s left pad. You could feel something good was going to happen the whole night.

Joe Pavelski, yes, Joe Pavelski, finally came back to the lineup tonight after being out since the second game of the year. He didn’t disappoint. He put up two points (one goal, one assist) and didn’t have much rust. His assist really should have been a goal; the puck was headed in, but Dany Heatley slammed it home when the puck was about one inch from the goal line. Gotta love Heater!

Dan Boyle owned the ice tonight. It was his. No disputing that. He continuously carried the puck from the defensive zone all the way to the net for scoring chances. It looks like that broken thumb is fully healed, and he’s on a mission to contribute. One of those times coming down the ice, he deked a few Pens and snapped a shot past Fleury.  That was the end of Fleury, who was pulled right after. He allowed three goals on 14 shots.

Pittsburgh mailed it in during the third with some late hits and a few scrums. They became frustrated and tried taking it out on Sharks tough guys. Yea, not a good idea. Jay McKee made a run at Jody Shelley, who wasn’t really looking. The two dropped the gloves and Shelley ended up taking McKee down. Well, you think that would be the end for Shelley. He did his job, and can resume his role in the fourth line. Oh, contraire.

Eric Godard tried his hand at Shelley and Mr. Shelley handed Godard’s derriere to him on a bloodied, silver platter. Jersey jabs and right hooks galore from Shelley. Thank you! Come again!

Picture 10

After Joe Pavelski's original shot, Dany Heatley slams the puck home (From SJSHARKS.com)

Jordan Staal, much to Sharks fans’ amazement, took a few runs and delivered an elbow to Douglas Murray. Staal better watch himself in the parking lot. I may not be a big fan of Murray’s, but to deny his skills in fighting and toughness would be ignorant. Come on now Staal. You can’t bring your peach fuzz to a swedish meatball fight.

I got a little worried when the Sharks weren’t putting more goals in. They seemed to be a bit complacent for a stretch in the third, but it was those scrums that fired them back up. So, that would be the only criticism of the night.

I also saw Logan Couture on the penalty kill unit. Can’t say I’ve seen him on it before, but I like he’s getting more ice time. I read that he did move up a couple lines last game to play with Patrick Marleau and Manny Malhotra. Good to hear. (Malhotra, by the way, scored the fifth goal tonight on a shot through a bunch of traffic.)

Home Power Play

The Sharks ranked last in power play efficiency at home, somewhere around five percent. They netted two goals on the man advantage tonight. The entries and forecheck looked better tonight. Passes were sloppy, however, leading to Penguins clears and breakouts.

Injury Bug

NHL GameCenter Live used Pittsburgh’s feed and all the commentators would talk about is how injuries caused their recent play. Give me a break. Take a look at the Sharks who’ve been playing with five key players missing from their lineup, and they still managed to win six in a row. The Penguins just didn’t show effort tonight and looked awful. It won’t kill you to say that.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 19  PIT 25; Scott Nichol and Murray both led with three hits a piece.

Sidney Crosby now has just one point in four games against the Sharks. Isn’t that great? San Jose has his number, and the Penguins’ number for that matter.

San Jose lost the faceoff battle. They lead the league in faceoff percentage with 56.8, and for them to lose to 19th-ranked Pittsburgh is surprising.

The Sharks get two days off before facing Nashville on Tuesday. The Sharks will look to extend their point-streak to nine games.

–Ray

November 8, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment