A Fan of the Game

Sports Talk, Straight Talk

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 61

Quite the Whac-A-Mole game for the Sharks has they pounded the Toronto Maple Leafs back into the the NHL cellar with a 3-2 win. It wasn’t pretty, but the Sharks did enough to withstand the newly energized Leafs.

The game felt like a Western Conference game. It’s always nice to watch the Sharks play Eastern Conference teams since we never see those players. But with the Leafs’ additions of Dion Phaneuf and Jean-Sebastien Giguere, along with Francois Beauchemin, it was like facing the Ducks or Flames.

Astonishingly, Giguere recorded two shutouts in his first two games as a Maple Leaf. After the first period, the streak was still in tact. Toronto led 1-0 at the first break after completely controlling most of the period. Phanuef was throwing his weight around on Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley. The Leafs were skating and made the Sharks look very lethargic.

Jody Shelley tried his best to get some emotions going. He dropped the gloves with Toronto tough guy Colton Orr, and Shelley KO’d him with a right. You don’t see that too often — Orr getting dropped or Shelley KO’ing someone. So you might want to favorite that video on YouTube.

Right after was when Toronto notched their first goal. Rob Blake turned the puck over behind the net, and a cross-crease pass found Tyler Bozak’s stick.

The Leafs continued the pressure briefly in the second before the Sharks whacked their first mole. Dan Boyle shot a wrist shot change-up to beat Giguere. Yep, Boyle’s back.

Two minutes later Joe Pavelski wristed one past Giggy, and yet another mole was whacked to oblivion.

All right, Colton. This is going to be a one-shot KO. Jersey Shore Ronnie style. (From SJSHARKS.com)

Brad Staubitz sought redemption against Garnet Exelby for a knee-to-knee hit earlier in the game. The two danced, and it was a close fight. Both fighters landed some punches, and Staubitz claimed the takedown.

The Leafs would score in the last minute of the second to tie the game back up. Curse those relentless moles for popping up.

Remember last game when I gave you the statistic which read the Sharks are 10-0 in games with multiple fights. Well, make that 11-0. Ryane Clowe buried the puck with seven minutes left to give the good guys the win.

Nab-credible

Once again, Mr. Evgeni Nabokov did his best brick wall impersonation, making key save after key save. You just can’t say enough about how great he’s been this year. We’ll have to wait until April to see if he gives the Sharks the real bang for their buck, but if this season is any indication, the Sharks will be living well come postseason.

Welcome Wallin and Helminen!

Newly acquired Niclas Wallin made his debut in the #7 sweater tonight and played as advertised. He didn’t make any mistakes and finished with a +1 rating in 17:03 of ice time. He also recorded one shot, one blocked shot and one hit.

Dwight Helminen was called up for the first time as a Shark. I didn’t hear his name called much, though. He put in nine minutes of work and struggled in the faceoff circle going 1-4.

Other Notes

Hit-O-Meter: SJ 26  TOR 34; Scott Nichol led with four.

The Sharks visit the reeling Blue Jackets on Wednesday. It’s the front end of a back-to-back — Columbus and Detroit.

–Ray

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

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 13

Quite the fast performance by the Sharks in their 4-3 win over the Atlanta Thrashers. The Sharks just looked quick and agile all over the ice, and Atlanta just couldn’t keep up — despite what the score indicates.

The first period was the opposite of what fans are used to as San Jose scored the first two goals. It was the second time all year the Sharks scored first — not a very good stat at all, huh? Not to mention the first goal was scored only 45 seconds into the game.

After criticizing Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley last game for having a grand total of 0 shots on goal combined, look who gets those first two goals: Thornton and Heatley. For the record they finished with eight total shots (four each).

Patrick Marleau tallied his eighth goal of the year just 55 seconds into the second period and should have had another soon after that. Patty broke away from Atlanta defenders and got pushed into goalie Johan Hedburg. The whistles blew but the replay clearly showed the puck in the net. The referees reviewed and somehow suffered temporary blindness; they called it no-goal. Analyst Drew Remenda was livid, which was amazing to hear because that’s what fans were saying.

The review booth in Toronto passed along that it the goal was called off because the whistle blew before the puck went it. This time it was temporary deafness that officials suffered from. The broadcasters played back the goal real-time with sound, and low-and-behold the whistle was WAY after the puck went in.

I describe this play in detail because right after that, Atlanta scored. The momentum of the entire game changed from a potential blowout into a squeaker.

Patty did get his revenge with his second goal of the night, but things didn’t feel the same.

Dany Heatley works the defense to fire a shot. (From SJSHARKS.com)

Dany Heatley works the defense to fire a shot. (From SJSHARKS.com)

Atlanta put forth a lot of effort into making the score 4-3 but Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov was up to the challenge. The Thrashers racked up 27 shots to the Sharks’ 24.

The Sharks are such a different team shot-wise this year. Remember last year when they put up 40 shots a game, every game? Seems like decades ago. I think the Sharks were trying to be too much like Detroit, and since that’s where coach Todd McClellan came from, the Sharks became Detroit #2.

San Jose is still trying to find their own distinct identity, so that might be a valid reason for their inconsistency so far, but like I’ve said before — no excuses.

Train Wreck

I think this is the third game in a row that I’ve seen two Sharks collide in the neutral zone. They’ve done it at least once a game it seems. What in the blue hell is that all about? I didn’t realize eyes are such a hinderance. Keep your head up or next time you’ll end up like R. J. Umberger in the 2006 playoffs. (If you haven’t seen that hit, take a look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3Gvfr9GUC0)

Ryan Vesce

He earned an assist tonight bringing his scoring streak to four games. Hes always taking shots, finding open spots on the ice. He’s a pleasure to watch. I do not think his scoring is because of being on the top line. He works his own magic.

Other Notes

Hit-o-meter: SJ 13  ATL 8

Brad Staubitz and Eric Boulton received fighting majors in the first. Not much to report on it, though. By the time the cameras got to them, they were on the ground. I really think Todd needs to choose between Jody Shelley and Brad Staubitz. I think another speedy offensive guy could plug in for one of those two tough guys. We don’t need both. Bring up Logan Couture; he’s been on a tear in Worcester.

Next game is tonight against Philadelphia. We’ll see if Todd starts Thomas Greiss in goal because of the back-to-back games.

–Ray

October 25, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Philadelphia wins… unfortunately

Nathan was nice enough to give the nice side of the story but I will not.

I was willing to be nice to Philadelphia but after the owner of the Phillies told fans to congratulate the Rays on a good season, more than 75% of the fans booed.  Show some class.  You have obtained the title as worst fans in the world (although you kind of already had it).  You beat a team who came from worst-to-first, dethroned the Red Sox (who you would have easily got beaten by), and you boo them.  That is truly disgusting.  Enjoy not winning another title for another 25 years.  That is your kharma.

I have nothing against the players, though.  I have always been a Cole Hamels fan (not just because his wife is hot), and it was good to see Brad Lidge get the save, after everything in Houston.  I hope his streak ends soon, however, because I am not a fan of someone being undefeated.  I like to see people humbled.

As much as I want to shout the Phillies suck, I can’t because they really are good.  Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino, Cole Hamels, Brad Lidge, etc.

As for the Rays, they are not going to be good like this again next year.  I picked them in this World Series because most of the time, heart beats skill, but not this time.  They are the new Colorado Rockies (remember they were in the Series a year ago).  Next year is Toronto’s time to shine.  Halladay deserves it.

For all the Philly fans, two words: JOE CARTER!!!

Go Blue Jays!!!

Epic Win

Epic Win

-Ray

October 30, 2008 Posted by | Baseball | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dissecting the Blue Jays

This Blue Jays team as of late has shown the MLB what it can really do once it gets rolling. It was necessary for GM J.P. Ricciardi to fire then manager John Gibbons. He had shown the Jays’ potential but could never really activate the potential when need be. So it was time for a change. Former Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston replaced him and had a goal of a .500 record before the All-Star break. Toronto came close but did not achieve the .500 mark, but the message had been sent. The Blue Jays could come back into the AL Wild Card Race.

The Blue Jays lead the MLB in ERA with 3.55 and complete games (13). Ace Roy Halladay and A.J. Burnett have been carrying the work load combining to pitch 437.1 innings and a combined 412 strikeouts. Unfortunately, their records have not really shown that with Halladay being 18-11 and Burnett 18-10. Still, the long innings these two pitch have helped to craft a very young bullpen still getting the hang of things. The only big name in the ‘pen is B.J. Ryan and has converted 30/34 save opportunities with 57 K – a solid season coming off Tommy John surgery. So, if you have pitching, you should be able to win games, right?

Well, let’s look at fielding, which was a problem for the Jays last year. After bringing in a slew of NL players in the offseason, the Jays are 6th in fielding percentage at .986. The defense is good, the pitching is fantastic. And the have a great offense already don’t they? With Rios and Wells? Not exactly…

Here is the struggle for Toronto: Offense. You can’t win games if you can’t get runs. Halladay doesn’t get you 5 runs for throwing a complete game, so the offense has needed to step up. Unfortunately, it has a little too late. Toronto is batting .265 on the season, good for 14th in the majors. A big problem has been missing ad that is a big bat in the lineup. Without Frank Thomas to protect young Rios and Wells, there have only been 117 homers hit out by Jays players: 25th in MLB.

Let’s focus a little bit more specifically on the offense. Believe it or not, there is not one Blue Jay that has 20 HR. The closest is Alex Rios with 17. Pitiful. Unacceptable in this day and age of the long ball. GM Ricciardi MUST address this in the offseason. If it means giving up a young pitcher or two, do it. You have got to manufacture runs. Keep in mind though, the Blue Jays have been bitte by the injury bug a lot this year, which they have the last two years. Only 3 players have played over 106 games (Overbay, Rios, Scutaro). Rios has been the money man for the Jays though, leaving me wondering if the Rios for Lincecum deal would have went through in the offseason if the Jays could do anything offensively. Rios has hit the most home runs, hits, doubles, and stolen bases. He can’t do everything though. He has got to have help. OF Vernon Wells just has never been the same since that huge deal a couple years ago.

There has been hope though! The last 30 days, the Jays are 4th in batting average, 4th in hits and the top 10 for most hitting categories in the MLB. They can do it. As much as I hate saying wait until next year, Jays fans, we are going to have to. Ricciardi will lose the big Burnett salary and hopefully can bring in some serious hitters, while keeping the main core of pitching together (Halladay, Marcum, McGowan, Litsch). Perhaps maybe bringing in a good arm or two for the bullpen. Maybe the slogan next year will be “Not the Rays, it’s the Jays!” Boston continues to get old, and the Yankees are a complete mess. It could very well be the Rays and Jays becoming the new Boston and New York. Now, wouldn’t that be something?

-Ray

September 18, 2008 Posted by | Baseball | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment