A Fan of the Game

Sports Talk, Straight Talk

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

Inside the Shark Cage, Vol. 1

Here it is.

The season is upon us, and the Sharks are set to take ice against the Colorado Avalanche. What seems to be an easy win for San Jose, could easily turn into an ugly affair. With the bottom half of the Sharks offensive line basically brand new, and the addition of Dany Heatley to the top line, chemistry could be a big problem tonight.

Head coach Todd McClellan told the media the bottom 6 players have more grit than last year’s group. I’m trying to figure out how. Last year, Jeremy Roenick, Mike Grier and company seemed to be quite gritty — at least, that’s why management told us. Those players were supposed to be the gritty players we needed to get over the hump. Now we find out they really weren’t gritty enough. Just how exactly do you determine grit? Do you serve the players with bacon, eggs and toast and gauge their reaction?

I keed. I keed.

I was disappointed when McClellan sent Nick Petrecki and Logan Couture back down to Worcester for development. I believe he said they didn’t quite understand the speed of the NHL game. That’s unfortunate. I think we need younger players like that, because right now, the Sharks prospect pool is just deep enough to submerge a puck.

A couple youngsters are still in the running to make the team, though. Defenseman Jason Demers and forward Benn Ferriero remain. I’ve looked at Ferriero as Torrey Mitchell, Jr. A couple years back, Mitchell came out of nowhere to dominate preseason play and so has Ferriero. Both are short, fast and determined. They aren’t calm and collected like most of our top six forwards. Mithcell and Ferriero actually play like it’s their last shift — what I think is the most admirable quality of a hockey player.

Mitchell has tendinitis in his knee and may not be back for a couple weeks, leaving the door open for Ferriero.

As for the Sharks goaltending, I’ve been Evgeni Nabokov’s number one supporter. But his weak goals and 5-hole have weakened me to the point of “eh.” He will play 70+ games barring injury, though, because our young goalie prospects haven’t proven themselves. Goalie is our deepest prospect pool, but the likes of Alex Stalock and Tyson Sexsmith were sent down to Worcester to continue development. That leaves Thomas Greiss, who I have as much confidence in as Katy Perry kissing a girl and not liking it.

Defenseman Rob Blake was named captain of the team yesterday —  a decision a lot of fans don’t like from what I’ve read. Obviously, the team doesn’t see a long-term captain just yet and they want to go with the sure bet. I have no problem with it, especially since Dan Boyle and Joe Thornton will wear A’s. Blake is more than capable and speaks honestly with the media. Boyle does the same so maybe they should have a second C. Regardless, it’s better than having Patrick Marleau as captain. I love Patty, but he was just to quiet and reserved to be captain of a team.

It’s going to be difficult to not think about the playoffs during the 82-game regular season, but I will certainly try to keep things on a game-by-game basis as so many coaches do. (I think we all know that mentality is BS.)

Hopefully, the Sharks can exploit the Avalanche’s weak goaltending and see some offense. With the retiring of Joe Sakic’s jersey tonight, expect a lot more heart from Avs players — for about the first five minutes. Those kind of ceremonies only affect the very beginning of the game, in my opinion.

It’s a shame DirecTV and Versus are still in their childlike squabble, and I have to find some place on the internet broadcasting the game. I’ll cope. Enjoy the games everyone! Hockey’s back!

–Ray

Who’s OUT from last year?

WhosOut

October 1, 2009 Posted by | Hockey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment