A Fan of the Game

Sports Talk, Straight Talk

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 59

Quite the Jesus-Greiss-saves game for the Sharks as they defeated the St. Louis Blues, 4-2. Greiss was the man with the plan stopping 35 shots en route to the victory.

Greiss’ patented flailing was toned down tonight — perhaps a good sign — and he looked comfortable in net. That could be for Team Germany’s scouts looking to solidify their starting goaltender for the Olympics. Whatever it is, I hope it continues. Greiss will probably get one or two more starts these next five games to give Evgeni Nabokov extra rest.

The Blues weren’t joking around tonight. They were getting shots through, putting lots of traffic in front of the net, throwing their weight around and skating fast. Those things made it extra tough on the Sharks depleted defense who were once again without Dan Boyle and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

So much for Boyle ever being day-to-day. I remember the good ole days where he was only supposed to miss one game. What a sham!

As for the Sharks skaters tonight, they were OK. Patrick Marleau scored 21 seconds into the game after a feed from Joe Thornton.

Ryane Clowe increased the lead to two goals seven minutes later, and it was another early two-goal lead. The Blues rallied two minutes after Clowe’s goal. At that point, I’m thinking, “Here we go again. Just like last game against Detroit.” Those thoughts almost came to fruition several times. The Blues controlled the play and dominated for a good twenty minutes.

D.J., if you skate by me, prepare for urination. Just sayin'. (From SJSHARKS.com)

That brings us to halfway through the second period. The Blues were outshooting the Sharks 8-2 the first half of the second period. San Jose slowly started to get their feet under them. The legs started churning, the pucks started getting deep and whaddaya know? A goal comes about. Devin Setoguchi scored on the power play, swinging the momentum back to the Sharks.

Fortunately, the Sharks withstood a Blues comeback in the third. Scott Nichol sealed the deal with a slapshot.

I guess I should have kept the expectations a bit lower since this was the first game of a long road trip. The Blues have been a mosquito to the Sharks, so I’ll give them dap for swatting them.

Niclas Wallin

The Sharks rumor mill is churning with rumors of Niclas Wallin coming to San Jose within the next 24 hours. What the deal could be has varied. I’ve seen Wallin or a second round pick. I’ve seen Wallin for Jody Shelley and Derek Joslin. Apparently Carolina is gaga over Joslin. Maybe the Canes enjoy public urination and see Joslin as a centerpiece for that fetish. Who knows, but I hope the Sharks don’t give up too much. If they do, Ray Whitney better come over too.

Not Everyone is Like You

So I was visiting ChompBoard.com — a Sharks forum, and saw one of the members said:

“its the bull**** bandwagon fans that dont understand that this is a long ass season and losing 1 or 2 games a month doesn’t mean its the end of the friggin world.. it just shows that the team makes mistakes and there are still plenty of things the team needs to work on before the post season..”

Cool story, bro. Guess what? Not everyone thinks the way you do. I’m sorry, but I’m not just going to sit around and have no emotion for these regular season games. What’s the point in being a fan if you’re just going to go through the regular season indifferent to results? Who is the real bandwagon fan here when you’re waiting for April to roll around to really feel these panicky emotions? Ponder that.

I’m a sports fan; I’m a hockey fan; I’m a Sharks fan. If my team blows a game badly, I’m going to be uncomfortable with it. I want to see fixes as soon as possible. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m impatient. Woe is me for being that way.

You can embrace your “it’s a long season” mentality. That’s fine. A lot of people do. But don’t go around ridiculing other people because they are a different type of person. It’s ridiculous. Yea, what I just said was probably hypocritical, but oh well. I’m on a roll.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 17  StL 27; Setoguchi and Joe Pavelski both led with three.

The Sharks travel to Nashville, Saturday, for a bout with the Predators.

–Ray

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February 5, 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. 32

Quite the playoff atmosphere tonight and while the Sharks lost 3-2 in a shootout to the St. Louis Blues, the Sharks deserved to win. Karma is karma, though. The Sharks stole a game in St. Louis earlier this year and the opposite happened this time.

Blues goalie Ty Conklin is insanely lucky. He simply isn’t this good to make the saves he made tonight. All luck. It’s so frustrating to see amazing chances go by the wayside when a sub-par goalie gets confident. This game should have been 6-1 by the third period, and it could have ended 8-1. But nooooooo, Conklin always decides to play well against the Sharks. Prior to the start of the game, he had a 3-2-1 record against San Jose, with a 1.68 goals against average and a .940 save percentage. Crazy numbers. Geez, this guy is annoying.

Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov matched Conklin save for save though. He made a specatcular save with 30 seconds left to keep a 2-1 lead. However, he was unable to stop one more shot with 6.6 seconds left in regulation. That goal tied it at 2-2 sending the game to overtime.

Let’s go back and talk about regulation. What a great game to watch. Both teams played 60 minutes of hockey. No one took any breaks. The Sharks didn’t look sluggish at any point during the game and neither did the Blues. This could very well be a playoff matchup; however, I hope it isn’t because the Blues are like a mosquito to the Sharks.

Dany Heatley scored first from a Joe Thornton pass. He ripped it from a bit inside the blue line and Conklin had no chance.

The Blues got on the board with an awkward, change-up type shot from Jay McClement. Nabby looked like he just saw Ryane Clowe in tights.

Joe Pavelski scored the other Sharks goal in the second period. Douglas Murray took a shot from the point, and Pavs, standing right in front of Conklin, deflected it in.

Joe Pavelski gives Ty Conklin a serving of Wisconsin booty as he scores (From SJSHARKS.com)

That was the only good thing Murray did tonight. He did try hard, but he got burned bad by both T.J. Oshie and David Perron. Two times each. I hope coach Todd McClellan saw that, because Murray needs defensive help. Right now he’s just a pylon taking up space.

The Sharks power play looked outstanding. Unfortunately, they never converted an opportunity. The puck movement was there, passes were quick, decisions were made swiftly and the correct shots were taken. But like I said before, Conklin’s jersey must have had a few thousand four-leaf clovers in it.

This loss is tough to take. I can’t put it any simpler than that. A game-tying goal with 6.6 seconds left, and it was shorthanded — it just sucks. I’m sure the guys are extremely downtrodden in that locker room. Hopefully one of them thinks like me and hopes Conklin never plays against the Sharks again.

I can already hear the postgame quotes now: “Give St. Louis credit,” “You gotta give the Blues credit.” I really don’t want to hear that mess. Just say, “Well that friggin’ blows; that goalie is so lucky.” Stop giving other teams credit.

Shootout

In the shootout, Nabby showed his weakest part of his game – his infamously wide five-hole. Man is that thing big. (Pun intended).

Fight

Right off the bat, Ryane Clowe dropped the gloves with B.J. Crombeen. Mainly a throw-a-whiff affair, Clowe got a few punches to land. Clowe gets the win.

Also, David Backes was being a rat trying to get Heatley to drop the gloves. Heatley didn’t go for it, but Frazer McLaren jumped off the bench and went to beat down Backes. Backes turtled like a true coward, while McLaren got a third-man-in penalty and was thrown out.

Fourth Line

The fourth line of McLaren-Mitchell-Vesce looked really good tonight. Vesce and Mitchell played together down in Worcester and developed some chemistry. I don’t recall any bad mistakes from the line. They always seemed to be on the forecheck wearing the other team down. I hope Vesce stays up.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 23  StL 28; Murray led the team with four.

The Flames come to town on Saturday. It’s the last game before the Sharks begin a streak of 8/10 games against divisional opponents.

–Ray

December 4, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 23

Quite the steal-and-run performance by the Sharks in their 3-1 win against the St. Louis Blues. The Sharks were outworked on every part of the ice, but goalie Evgeni Nabokov stole a victory for his team.

I can’t remember the last time the Sharks were this badly outshot (39-17) and still came out with a win. But your goalie has to keep you in games and sometimes steal some. I wouldn’t say Nabby stood on his head though. Despite the huge number of shots, most of them weren’t clear shots at the net. A lot of the times the puck would deflect off someone, and roll around the crease before Nabby covered it.

The game featured a lot of big hits and intensity. Devin Setoguchi plowed two Blues players — Roman Polak in the first and T.J. Oshie in the third. The Blues dished it back in the form of a fight, which was one-sided. Cam Janssen dropped the gloves with Brad Staubitz and Janssen whooped Bitz. No contest at all.

The fight did help spark the Blues as they scored off a bank-shot late in the first.

Unfortunately for the Blues, this game was decided in 16 seconds; that’s all it took for the Sharks to score two goals. They came in the second period; Dany Heatley deked around a Blues defender and beat Chris Mason. Right after that, the Blues turned it over to a waiting Manny Malhotra, who shot the puck off Mason, and Ortmeyer batted in the rebound.

That’s about all the offense the Sharks could muster, except for the empty net goal by Joe Thornton at the very end.

Two of the three goals were on the power play, so that is still hot on the road.

Picture 13

Jamie McGinn tries to skate past Roman Polak (From SJSHARKS.com)

Once again the Sharks’ third period was weak. I wish I had a good explanation for this. Maybe they’re getting tired out there; their best period is the second, so maybe they’re wearing themselves out? I’m not sure. I would love to get in the locker room and ask coach Todd McClellan what’s up with that.

But again, the game belonged to Nabby. This is the front end of a back-to-back, and he’ll probably start again tomorrow against Chicago.

Givin’ You the Blues

Blues owner Dave Checketts ripped the team yesterday for their weak play. That obviously played a huge part in the emotion St. Louis played with tonight. I wonder what Checketts thinks right now about this loss. Gotta be tough, but I concede the Blues deserved this one. But in order to become that elite team, you have to win ugly. Not sure if the Blues have learned that yet.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 26  STL 18; Patrick Marleau led with four hits, while Seto, Heater and Douglas Murray added three each.

I saw Jamie McGinn on the penalty kill tonight. Can’t say I’ve seen him there before, but it’s good he’s getting rewarded for his hustle. That kid might be Scott Nichol, Jr.

I forgot to mention last game that Torrey Mitchell was reassigned to Worcester for conditioning. Big step for Torrey. Hopefully he gets his legs under him quickly.

The Sharks travel to Chicago tomorrow to take on the Blackhawks. Should be an entertaining match.

–Ray

November 15, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 3

The Sharks take on the Ducks tonight at Anaheim and it should be a bruising contest. In an interesting roster move, The Sharks sent Jamie McGinn down to Worcester and brought up Frazer McLaren, who is known as a tough guy. After all the things I’ve heard from coaches about playing their own game and not worrying about the other team, this throws it for a loop.

Frazer McLaren giving a Canuck the business

Frazer McLaren giving a Canuck "the business"

So much for playing a speedy, offensive affair as the Sharks are known to do; they plan on adapting to Anaheim’s slower, hit-filled game. I guess it’s worth a shot considering our fast style didn’t work in the playoffs last year. But alas, it’s only one player. We’ll see the effects at 10 p.m. eastern.

Things to look for

1. Saku Koivu’s debut for Anaheim

2. Will Marleau-Pavelski-Clowe line continue their first game performance?

3. Any chemistry from Thornton or Heatley?

4. Who starts in goal for Anaheim? Giguere or Hiller?

5. Nabokov

Slow Starts

Last years division winners in the Western Conference (Detroit, Vancouver, San Jose) are off to a combined 0-5 start. Detroit was swept by St. Louis, while Vancouver dropped a game in Calgary and was shutout by upstart Colorado today.

St. Louis will be dangerous — so long as Keith Tkachuk and Paul Kariya stay healthy. They already have four goals combined in two games; however, one of them will get injured this year — it never fails.

Detroit’s backup Jimmy Howard played in the second game and looked, to put it lightly, sub-par. He allowed to goals in 13 seconds. I really don’t think he will ever be ready for the NHL; he’s a full-time AHLer.

October 3, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NFL Week 10 Picks!

Last Week’s Results:
Nathan: 8-6 (82-48)
Ray: 6-8 (74-56)

Games Nathan Ray
DEN @ CLE BROWNS BRONCOS
STL @ NYJ JETS JETS
JAX @ DET LIONS JAGS
GB @ MIN PACK PACK
BAL @ HOU RAVENS RAVENS
NO @ ATL SAINTS FALCONS
TEN @ CHI TITANS BEARS
SEA @ MIA DOLPHINS SEAHAWKS
BUF @ NE PATS BILLS
CAR @ OAK PANTHERS PANTHERS
IND @ PIT STEELERS STEELERS
KC @ SD CHARGERS CHARGERS
NYG @ PHI GIANTS EAGLES
SF @ ARI CARDS CARDS

November 8, 2008 Posted by | Football | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WTHWWT – Week 9 (Mac Daddy [Nathan])

So, now that we have chosen our new president (who it is no one knows currently, but we’ll find out eventually) it’s time to look back at this past Sunday when all was good and there was a Republican in the White House fo sho!

Cincinnati Bungals 21 vs Jacksonville Jaguars 19 – A failed two point conversion was the difference in this game. The Bungals winning actually kinda hurts the NFL because that means the Lions will be the only winless team in the NFL this season. Wouldn’t it be great if we had 2 teams finish winless!? Oh well. The Bengals actually did something good. Well no they didn’t, they just got really lucky.

Tennessee Titans 19 vs Green Bay Packers 16 – Another disappointing week for a Packer fan. We came so close to winning, and then all of a sudden we had to tack another loss in the L column. The Titans really don’t deserve to be undefeated. Luck is just on their side. They have a QB who should be part of the AARP and yet, has not lost a game yet this season. Talk about luck.

Arizona Cardinals 34 vs St. Louis Rams 13 – Just when it looked like the Rams were doing something good this season, they are back to being the normal Rams we have grown used to seeing. The Cardinals are a good team this season, and I truly should not have picked the Rams. The Cardinals have my pick from now on, as long as they have a chance.

Indianapolis Colts 18 vs New England Patriots 15 – Where is Tom Brady? If he had started perhaps the Patriots would be celebrating a victory and not suffering from another loss to the annoying and big-headed Peyton Manning. If this game would have been in New England, the Pats would have had a chance. Hopefully this is the only meeting between the teams this season. Time for two other teams to face off in the playoffs.

Pittsburgh Steelers 23 vs Washington Redskins 6 – Redskins were up 6-0 and then allowed the Steelers to dominate the rest of the game. Byron Leftwich led the Steelers in the second half and looked like the quarterback we were used to seeing in Jacksonville. Big Ben will be back next week, but it was good to see him get off the field for a little while.

– Nate aka Mac Daddy!

November 5, 2008 Posted by | Football | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment