Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween! Weekend Round Up, Undead Edition

I hope everyone is properly in the Halloween spirit and ready to party late into All Hallows night. Friday Halloweens rule.

Anyway, let's get back to business and get my (Gray's) take on the week in Sharks hockey that has passed.
The Pens game, Tuesday, Oct 28th:


It's fun when one of the tops teams comes to town. The Pens might not be off to the best start this season, but they're still the runners up in last year's Stanley Cup Finals, and that means they're still a force to be reckoned with. We expected a nail biter, and while we didn't exactly get that, we did get a fun, fast paced game that was thoroughly entertaining.

Sabo is a beast. Wow. I don't think he got one of the three stars of the game and I'm not sure how he got passed up.

Every time Crosby touched the puck, magic started to happen. Luckily for the Sharks, he never managed to complete whatever spell he was attempting to cast because the puck kept going wide of the net.

You gain a new found respect for Crosby and Malkin when you see them skate in person.

Thornton still looked hurt. More than I'd think he'd be with a mild, lingering injury.

Nabby was back to his old self.

A guy in the front row had a "Free Candy" sign. We saw it ONCE. You're on the glass, you have a sign and you show it once? Mina didn't even get to take a picture! We resorted to shouting to the guy after the game, in a vain attempt to get him to raise the sign. He didn't hear us. Sad times.

They were running these goofy Halloween themed spots between periods. Ghost Sharkie and swamp lit Jody Shelley! SssPPppppoooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooKKKKkkkkkkyyyYYY

Detroit Redwings, Thursday, October 30th.

Out skated, out shot out worked. That sums up the Sharks performance against the Wings last night. I didn't know what to think going into this game, but I knew it was going to be good. The problem with judging the Sharks based on how the preformed against the Wings the past few seasons is that they have a totally different coach. They are not the same team, you cannot assume they will preform the same way.

These are not Ron Wilson's Sharks. These are Todd McLellan's Sharks and they are better, bigger and stronger than they've been before. Those changes were on display last night. The next three meetings with the Wings should also be good ones. Be sure to tune in.

Conklin = Insane. I swear he had a force field up for the entire first period.

How sweet was that pass from Setoguchi to Pavelski? Awesome.

Congratulations to Jamie McGinn on his first NHL goal! Watching him blush as the crowd cheered for him and seeing JR so excited for him (and helping him wave) was pretty damn cool.

Patty was all over the place last night.

Thornton looked better and faster, but he's obviously still bothered by an injury. Take a few games off and let it heal now, or it will be real bad later this season.

Ryane Clowe had a goal. 'Nuff said.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sharks v Redwings

Pens game review and overheard at the game comic to come. Comic for this post to come later as well. Maybe if we're lucky, Mina will add in some stats.

The Sharks and Wings battle it out for the top spot in the conference tonight. Will the Sharks setp up to their biggest challenge yet? How many cliches will we hear about McLellan facing his old team?
I admit to not paying any attention at all to the Wings, so I don't know what to expect tonight. What I am hoping for is a good game; it's the best bet out there.
7:30pm: radio, tv or Tank.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sharks V Pens

The only thing I know for sure is that this game will be a good one. Radio, TV or Tank, 7:30pm. Be there.

**********************Mina's Take*********************************

(Also known as a post from that other girl who works here)

In the 3+ years that Sidney Crosby has been in the league, he has only visited the Tank once. Gray and I did not attend this game so this is our first opportunity to see the Kid in action and I'm really excited. Mike Chen is right. It will be a good test of individual Sharks (particularly the defense) to see how they match-up with some of the good young talent on the Pens. Sure they aren't the same team as last year with some notable subtractions. But for a team that is supposedly "struggling" with their offense (only 23 goals in 9 games and limited secondary scoring), they have 12 points which is only 2 fewer than the Sharks. If this is a "struggling" Pens team, I would hate to see what they can do when they are hot.

By the numbers, this game looks fairly defensive. I was amazed to see that the Sharks are 2nd in the West with a 2.44 GAA and only 6th with a 3.33 GFA. On the other side of the coin, the Pens are 10th with a 2.56 GFA and 2nd with a 2.11 GAA (side note: the Rangers 1.92 GAA is nuts. Absolutely insane.) On paper this looks to be pretty defensive game with two very good goalies, regardless who starts. I sincerely doubt either backup will see any ice time, but both Boucher and Sabourin have done very well in limited time (even though everything is really limited only 9 games in).

In terms of defensive responsibility, the Sharks look to be doing better with only 5 roster guys with negative +/- ratings (Boyle, Shelley, Roenick, Clowe, and Plihal) and none have more than an -1. The Pens have 7 guys, including Talbot at a -4. I'm pleased to see that Marleau and Erhoff (another side note: Who is this guy pretending to be Christian Erhoff this year? I love this guy!) have +5 and Malkin is the Pens top at a +4. Despite the cliche, special teams will be key tonight. The Pens have a decidedly better power play unit (22% to 18.8%) and a better penalty kill unit (85.4% to 82.4%). If the Sharks are going to do well, they need to get out of this funk they have been in on the power play and break through against the Pens. I'd love to see 5 power play goals like they had against the Wings a few seasons ago.

Realistically, I spent too much time analyzing a October out of conference game than I should have. But I think it's a good test to see what the Sharks can do against a team that made the Stanley Cup finals last year. Both teams have done well defensively, but when they are on their game they can score goals quickly and in bunches. Honestly I am hoping for a shootout and a high-ish scoring game. But I agree with Gray in that this game has the promise of being tremendously entertaining. Or a complete and total disaster for the Sharks. Either way. Of course the idea of having the Sharks ripped apart by pensblog frightens me more than the possibility of the Sharks losing (I'm not sure I could handle a photoshop of Joe and Patty making out).

I have given up the idea of making realistic predictions about the outcome of any games and will stick with a more simple prediction. Given my track record on how well players I want to see do in games I see them in (see: Vesa Toskala, Martin St. Louis, Rick Dipietro, Crosby, Malkin, etc.), one of the Wonder Twins won't play at all and the other one won't score. Only because I want to see a highlight reel goal.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sharks V Lightning

Otherwise known as the game very few people in Tampa will be watching. Baseball moves slow, guys, be sure to tune in during longs breaks in action to focus on the fans doing fan stuff, like eating or talking or generally not watching the game. I'm a baseball fan, I know what people do at games.

Originally I didn't think I'd be around for the radio broadcast of this game, but now I might be. Review to come.

Ok, maybe some people DID watch this game, thanks to the World Series rain delay. They saw a good one too. I kinda wish they'd aired this game instead of last night's lack luster one. I missed the 1st, but from what I heard during the 2nd and 3rd, it was a great game. Sharks dominated all night. I also liked the little story time interlude during the second intermission. I had no idea how crazy the media coverage of the Leafs was. (Did they really boo Toskala last pre season? That lacks class, if that's true.)

Goals By Goc, Clowe (Clowe!), Setoguchi.

Boucher was solid and got the shutout. Have I ever mentioned how happy I am that we signed him?

Nice to "see" Matt Carle again. Hope Mr. Melrose is treating him well.

Good game, shame it wasn't on tv.

Allow Me To Express My Displeasure

Dear NHL,

Of the 15 games on today, I can see exactly zero on my tv. ZERO. There is not one nationally televised game in the US today. None. At all.

We can't all afford center ice. Did that ever cross your mind when setting up broadcast schedules?

You may want to reconsider your current marketing strategy, as it seems you have none.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sharks v Panthers: Turnover City.

Big cat. Big ball of yarn.

The Sharks continue their east coast road trip tonight in balmy Florida. The Panthers are pretty much an unknown factor having not met the Sharks since Halloween 2006. Let's hope the Sharks D is back on tonight, or we could be in for another wild ride.

Game Review:
1st period:
Interesting game so far. The Sharks had good pressure early on but started going through shifts where they fall apart. The first Panthers goal beat Nabby far and square. Nothing he could have done. The other two are largely a result of, as Drew would say, "the Sharks [being] way too focused on the puck." It will be interesting to see how the Sharks respond over the next 2 periods.
Current score is 3-1 Panthers.

2nd Period:
Best way to sum up the second: The Panthers, everywhere the Sharks want to be.

Tough break on Clowe's goal. One angle showed it going in off a Panther's skate, after Clowe kicked it in. Either way, it was kicked in and taken off the board.
As if to say "nyah nyah" to the reviewers, Clowe scores again! This time it's good and it makes it 2-3.

Nice work by Patty and Grier to get the tying goal to make it 3-3. Shorthanded no less!

I look away and the Panthers have made it 4-3. The Sharks failed to clear and in it went. Nabby isn't getting beat so much as the Sharks are getting beat in front of him.

3rd period:
In keeping with the theme, the Sharks D once again came up short. Way too many turnovers. Lots of almost goals for the Sharks but Vokoun stopped them all.

Not a bad game, but there's work to be done if the Sharks want to stay on top.

Final Score: 4-3 Panthers. Rawr.

Other things I paid attention to besides the men on the ice:

*The interesting thing about an empty arena is a) I can hear the music and b) I can hear what the players are saying to each other on the ice.

*There are maybe a couple thousand people at the game, but that's probably being generous. It's empty, empty, empty in there.

Man, it's hard to keep up with each game. Not sure how many games I'll be able to do updates for each period. Might miss a few games here and there, and I will probably miss tomorrow's for sure. Never fear, there will be a graphic and post for it after the fact. That goes for all 82 games.(hopefully) The post might just be a one liner, but it'll be there. (again, hopefully)

We'll see how long I can keep this up. Wouldn't hurt to get a little back up every now and then *coughMINACough*

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sharks v Flyers, Round 2

Round two of the Sharks versus the Flyers. The Flyers will be coming into this game very desperate given that they're last in the east and still looking for their first win. Should be a good one, skip out on work and tune in at 4pm to watch.

1st period report:
Normally I wouldn't do this, but so far this game has been CRAZY. In 20 minutes I think they played a full 60 minutes worth of hockey. No joke.

Sharks are turning the puck over too much which has lead to some scary times in front of Nabokov.

Short handed goal for Philly right off the bat.

Niittymaki is a thief. A fantastic amazing thief.

You know what makes things more interesting? Turning the puck over in your own zone. Nabby makes two quick and amazing saves to keep it at whatever the score was at that point. (1-1?)

Mina says: "Who are you and what have you done with Ehrhoff and why didn't you do it sooner?"

Philly is playing like madmen on fire.

Somehow Jody Shelley ended up on what looked like the Flyers bench. He ended up in the box.

Goals goals goals. This game is crazy with goals.

Goal so far:

Carter, short handed
Upshall, PP

Pavelski, PP
Clowe (yay!) PP

Didn't watch the first? You really need to tune in.

2nd Period:

Grind, grind, grind. 2 more goals, one for Philly (Lupul) and one for the Sharks (Boyle). Less penalties, but just as many scary moments. Lost of good chances on both sides.

Did I mention we started the second with a new goalie? Biron is in, Niittymaki is out.

Randy and Drew were on fire. That bit with them talking about what Biron was thinking at the end of the period when he was pulled for an extra skater? Comedy gold.

3rd period:

Holy eff.
I missed the two early goals in this period because I was busy arguing with some squirrels. (don't ask)

The Sharks got a little sloppy at times in the third, but so did Philly. Both teams look tired at times. With all the crazy that occurred in the first two periods, that's no real surprise.

That goal right at the end by Philly to tie, I saw it coming. I came into this game figuring that there was no way Philly went down 0-6. They had to win. I figured it would go to the shootout, which, after a nail biting 5 minutes of sudden death, it did. No way the Sharks win in the SO, right? The Sharks are terrible at shoot outs, no way they can pull this off, right?


Nabby blocks both shots he faces. Pavelski, after having to wait for a patch of ice to be fixes, scores on Biron. It came down to JR, who easily puts one past Biron for the win. Woot!

Final Score, Sharks 7, Flyers 6. 3rd period goals by Marleau, Lupul, Breier. Shoot out goals listed above.


Edited to add: For JR to score the game winner in what may have been his last game in Philly is pretty fantastic. Way to go, JR!

Why I Have Given Up Understanding Coaches, But Still Enjoy Trying

I was going to post this all in the comments at We Bleed Teal, to supplement my original reaction, but then I realized it worked better as a post and not a long rambling comment in a tiny box. You can find the We Bleed Teal post here.

Last night the Sharks former head coach, Ron Wilson, tried a new trick and pulled Vesa Toskala after 65 minutes and stuck Cujo in for a shootout against Anaheim. Ignoring the fact that a)I like Vesa Toskala and b) I would have preferred to see the Ducks lose, I think this is a bizarre strategy.

According to TSN, RW claims he was playing the odds. It's a helluva gamble, even if the numbers appear to work in your favor. I doubt Cujo was cold for all of the shootouts he won so you have some uncertainty involved. Unless you have made him sit for 65 minutes in practice, and then put him on the ice to face a few shots, you can't be certain his performance will be the same or even similar to how it's been when he's played all 65 minutes. I trust this crossed RW's mind and he figured he knew his goaltenders well enough to make it worth the risk.

You could argue that, in some ways, it's a good move. It potentially throws off the opposing team causing them to lose focus. I'm honestly not sure how much of a factor who is in net is for players at the NHL level, so it's not something you can count on to affect their play.

The other issue is, how does a strategy like this change your relationship with your players? Publicly, everyone will say they're fine, but I wonder if a move like this shifts locker room dynamics. Maybe not after the first time you try it, but if this becomes a regular thing, it could signal a lack of trust in your players. That assumes many things though, such as more failures than successes with the strategy, locker room stability before the attempt, and whether or not a coach has successfully sold his guys on the idea.

In the end, it doesn't really matter (unless you're a Leafs or Ducks fan.) Coaches are always going to try wacky things if they think it will help their team get the W. This move might be a tad wacky, but it is no exception.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

News Roundup

Man, auto save=epic fail this morning. I had a nice post all ready to go, went to hit publish, everything froze and when it came back, my post had reset itself to half an hour before. Thanks interwebs.

*As we've all heard, Lukas Kaspar was placed on waivers yesterday. He should have safely cleared by now and will be shipping out to Worcester. While it is a somewhat puzzling move, given how few games Kaspar has played, and considering that he won himself a spot out of training camp, I'm willing to buy DW's explanation.

*Kyle McLaren, one of my favorite players, is still down in the AHL. He's been all class about the situation and I hope he'll be rewarded with a new NHL team soon. I expect teams to come calling once they start feeling the injury pinch, but like a lot of fans, I'd like to see him move back up sooner.

*I was hoping Mina would post this, but one of our fantastic readers alerted us to the demise of Goc blog last week. We're understandably distraught to lose the awesomeness that was Goc blog, but his replacement has Mina squeeing with joy. Torrey Mitchell has taken over the blogging duties this year. He's only done one post so far, but we can rest assured that we'll be receiving yet another season full of funny stories from the front, even if most of them revolve around Setoguchi ruining Mitchell's shoes.

*Great Sharks support at Campbell's Oktoberfest this weekend. Aside from the one Brodeur shirt I saw it was a sea of teal and beer. I'm consistently amazed by the support the Sharks receive from the community. I think folks outside the San Jose area would be surprised by the amount of support the Sharks receive. While it's not always as visibly prevalent in other parts of the Bay Area, I have seen my fair share of Sharks stickers, shirts and hats in the East Bay, and up along the Peninsula as well. The Bay Area has always been loyal to it sports teams, even if we can't always agree on which ones to follow. There's no exception when it comes to the Sharks.

---------Mid Day News Update-------

*Kaspar did indeed clear waivers and will be enjoying the east coast's crisp fall weather. Setoguchi got sent back and forth last year and eventually managed to solidify his spot on the team. I expect Staubitz and Kaspar to go up and down several times until management and the coaching staff has what they feel is the best mix possible. (to keep with the team's current ingredient theme.)

*Former Shark Patrick Rissmiller was put on waivers by the Rangers. Didn't they sign him to a 1 year deal this summer?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sharsk V Flyers

A cheese steak with wings?
It was the best suggestion I received while I was racking my brain over how to represent the Flyers. After ruling out the historical references to Philly (there was discussion of a Liberty Bell with wings or a picture of the 1st or 2nd Continental Congress), and a bully, a cheese steak was settled on as the best way to represent the City of Brotherly Love. If anyone has a better idea, let me know in the comments.

Post Game

Gray's Take:
What a game! Talk about a roller coaster, this game was crazy.

The Sharks needed to give Nabby a little more support. They weren't covering Philly well at times and I think Nabby was having a bit of an off night. Maybe the fact that he faced so few shots added to that. Either way, there were too many scary moments in front of the SJ net.

Boyle, (our game winner), had some words for Richards. None of them were very pleasant.

Shelley standing up to Cote was pretty solid. Sending a message early, letting the other team know the Sharks will no longer take getting pushed around. (And this time sending that message didn't make us lose Thornton for 7 minutes. Always a plus.)

Niittymaki made some amazing saves.

I was a little down that we didn't score on the 5 on 3.

Everytime Philly got a goal, I knew the Sharks could answer. Ehrhoff got us rolling, then Cheech, Pavelski and Setoguchi all jumped in to keep the Sharks in the game.

Pavelski's goal was a thing of beauty. He made it look so easy.

Congrats to Dan Boyle on his first goal of the season and as a Shark. Game winner too. Nice.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sharks V Ducks

Sharks and Ducks meet again tonight. We all know the Ducks are angry about their slow start and will be looking to get their first win. We all know the Sharks are hoping to get an early lead on the division. I know the Ducks are dangerous. I don't assume anything. You won't find game day predictions here.

With luck, both Mina and I will be doing the live blog over at We Bleed Teal. I'll be in and out for the first period or so.

Post Game:
Eh, 4-0 Loss. You probably expect us to be crying in a dark closet in somewhere but we're not. It's just game 5 out of 82. No need to panic. It is better to lose early in the season than to go up 19-0 and become last season's Sens.

I unfortunately didn't get to do as much live blogging or game watching as I wanted, as I was stuck doing something else that required me to watch most of the game online without sound. Boo to that. What I did get to do was fun, though. Big thanks to Mr. Plank for hosting the live blog event.

Staubitz = solid kid. Welcome to the NHL.

Mr. Plank put up a pretty good quick summary of ther game here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hockey: Keeping the Tooth Fairy in Business

Has Joe Thornton lost more teeth lately? I remember when we were at Teal and White there was an auidble gasp when he smiled. A ton of his teeth were gone. We all know hockey players lose teeth like the stock market loses money, but it seemed like half of his had fallen out over the summer. He even sounds different now.

Is he just not wearing his fake teeth during games anymore or did I really take this long to notice that he's missing a bunch of his upper front teeth?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sharks VS Blue Jackets

So we're going to try something new. I'm going to try and get little thingys up before each game and then after, or during, Mina or I can add a game review. It's going to take me a little while to find a format I like, and settle in to it (not to mention doing one of these for every team) so don't be surprised if this changes as the season progresses. Also don't be shocked if we miss a few games.
(Enjoy the US history reference in the cartoon)

Post Game:


If you missed that game (Mina) you missed a helluva good one. 2 short handed goals, 1 PP goal and 1 even strength. First time ever the Sharks start 4-0.

JR had some words for Dorsett and most involved an F followed by a U and the occasional "punk." Even after the Refs pulled Jr off the stunned looking Dorsett, he went back for more. He was PISSED OFF, ladies and gentlemen. Hell hath no fury like a Roenick scorned.

Shelley slammed a couple guys so hard, I don't think they knew what hit them.

1st period still needs work. I'm sure that will improve, (quickly I hope), as time goes on.

The second was amazing. Totally made up for the extremely slow and sloppy first.

The third had a few nail biting moments, like when Nabby was sprawled out on his back and some how Columbus didn't score. (Thanks Joe's stick!) Few spots in the third where the Sharks couldn't get the puck or clear the zone, something they also had issues with in the first. I'm sure they'll be running drills on that a bunch between now and Friday. Despite that, the third was filled with moments of brilliance. This was a great game. I scared my cats a few times, I cheered so loudly.

They chased Leclaire in the third. He looked stunned coming off the ice. Someone started talking to him the minute he stepped off, not sure who.

After the second shorthanded goal (I think) they cut to Hitchcock. Disappointement doesn't cover what was on his face.

Not to ignore the fight that Columbus put up, they played hard all game and were very dangerous at times. They scored about 36 seconds after Cheechoo tied it at 1-1. I think it was their first line that was problematic for the Sharks. Nash was kept scorless. Barely. His shot rang off the post. Nabby slid over, but not in time. Thanks post!

Goals: Cheechoo, Patty, Milan, Patty (yes 2!), Vlasic.

Three Stars: Big Joe, Nabby, Patty.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Weak Sauce. Sharks Win 1-0

The Sharks looked weak out there against the Kings tonight, but still managed to pull off the win. The game was a bit of a snoozer at times, though both LaBarbera and Boucher were pretty solid in their respective nets.

I expected having two disallowed goals would energize the Kings in some way or at least motivate them to take their frustration out on the Sharks, but that never happened. The only victim of their frustration was the panel of glass Kopitar shattered with his stick.

I also expected that having two goals scored on them, even if they were disallowed, would energize the Sharks. No such luck. They were fairly listless and sloppy until the last 4 minutes of the game. Don't get me wrong, I'm quite happy they've taken 3 out of 3 so far, but they have some work to do before the next game.

The high point came when Lukas Kaspar scored the only goal of the game, his first in the NHL. Congrats, Lukas!

I think Coach McLellan will have a lot to talk about on the plane ride home. I look forward to a much improved squad for Tuesday's game against Columbus.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Poke Check City: Sharks Beat Kings 3-1

Lots of sites do a technical, in depth post game recap. I'm pretty beat tonight, so I'm posting a short, lighthearted one instead.

The post title refers to what the game was at times: Poke Check City. The Kings kept poking the puck away and running off with it like my cat does when he gets a hold of something he shouldn't. It was nowhere near as cute and about as annoying. And, much like my cat, the Kings didn't get too far with the puck once the got it. While they didn't drop it in the hallway and run off to hide under the bed, they did manage to lose control of it quite a bit.

LaBarbera was annoyingly good at his job.

Plihal's short handed goal was a thing of beauty.

Tonight saw the birth of the Ehrhoff spin-o-rama. This new improved Ehrhoff is a welcome change, though it still freaks me out just a little.

McLellan's new system seems to be settling into place for the Sharks. The Sharks are finally getting pucks to the net and I'm still flabbergasted by this fact. Players moving around and getting in front of the net? Madness! I hope it continues.

Randy & Drew:

I missed these guys over the long summer months. If they aren't the best commentators in the league, they certainly have the most fun.

Randy Hahn had the line of the night when he said "Kopitar might be the richest man in Slovenia. We'll have to have somebody investigate that." His line about Kopitar's 47 million dollar deal being worth about 20 mil if he puts his money in a bank was also pretty good.

Mina will be at tomorrow's game in LA. Look for her thoughts on that experience (hopefully complete with pictures) later in the week.

Overheard At The Game, Oct 19th, 2008

This was supposed to be up yesterday but an explosion of ink on the original and then some weird color issues lead to delays.

The young woman behind us was pretty keen on offering the players advice all game, even when it didn't make much sense.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Opening Night Win! Sharks 4, Ducks 1

copyright 2008. Let's not go spreading this around the interwebs folks.


Playoff atmosphere was in full effect for opening night. Ducks hunting season signs, a load and rowdy Tank, street fare, hatred between fans of opposing teams that boiled over into a fight which somehow turned into a fight between two Ducks fans, Pronger was booed, most of us went hoarse from cheering and best of all, the power stayed on and Cheechoo's feet didn't end up punching holes in the wall. Oh yeah, and we got this really cool looking banner that says Pacific Division Champions on it. It was pretty awesome.

Speaking of Cheechchoo he got 2 goals, hopefully marking the start of a long and beautiful season full of scoring. He nearly had a third, but was denied an opening night hat trick by someone in white. Setoguchi had a pretty awesome goal and Ehrhoff found the net, much to the amazement of all the Sharks fans in attendance. Someone finally gave him a map to the net. I'm not sure how to handle a world in which Ehrhoff gets shots on net, but I can and will adjust. Gladly.

Blake was impressive and the entire team looked more relaxed and more like a team then 4 lines of guys who just happen to be wearing the same jerseys. These are definitely not Ron Wilson's Sharks and I am so okay with that.

Cartoon to come in a later post.

Go Sharks! Congrats to McLellan on your first NHL win as a head coach!

Gameday Preview Post #1 Sharks vs. Ducks

(Ed note: I had totally intended to write a comprehensive season preview for the Sharks with numbers and stats and pictures and everything. But then I was afflicted with a combination of real life craziness and laziness. My new plan is to write a season preview after the first few games. I’ll be seeing them twice in the first 3 games so I’ll have some deep insights into the team this season. Or I’ll just make shit up. Either way, it could be fun.)

I have always referred to the first day of the hockey season as “Hockey Christmas” and most people have found that very odd. But in reality, the first game of the season is very much like Christmas with its bright, shiny promises of wonderful expectations. On the first day of the season, all is right with the world and your team is in first place. Rookies promise new and interesting skills and veterans provide consistent ability and stability. Goalies are sure to win every start and the media has predicted a successful season ahead. Every thing is wrapped up in 82 different packages by brightly colored paper with festive bows. It’s a Wonderful Life.

As promising as the first game is, she can also be a cruel mistress. She can expose holes in defensemen’s skills and injure star players. She can foretell a losing season filled with disappointment. She can blackout your arena and put holes in the boards. It can be the best of games; it can be the worst of games.

And yet, we go, like children running down the stairs on Christmas morning. We start countdowns in June, read every season preview possible, and wear our Mitchell jerseys to work (or was that just me?). In a few hours Gray and I will be in our seats getting chills during the team introductions. We’ll watch the Pacific Division banner unfurled and dream of the day when a Stanley Cup banner will join it. Yes, “Hockey Christmas” is full of danger and peril and wonderment and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I love and hate that the Sharks will face the Ducks first. I love that they will get a chance to prove themselves early against division foes (the next 2 are against the Kings). I have always measured how the Sharks are doing against the Ducks. It does give other teams a chance to sneak up, but in reality it has more often come down the these two teams for the division title in the last two years and they have been consistently the better teams in the division with Dallas not far behind.

I hate this game because I hate the Ducks and they have an uncanny ability to beat the Sharks and ruin my day. I feel lower after loses to the Ducks than any other team. As much as I know the first game doesn’t matter as much in the final standings, losing early to the Ducks will leave a sour taste in my mouth. They scare me as a team for all of the reasons that Mike Chen mentioned and one more important: that intangible ability to beat the Sharks no matter what the situation.

I don’t have any statistical insights into the game given it’s the first damn game. But I will be there booing Chris Pronger, looking for George Parros to get schooled in a fight with Ryane Clowe, and cheering on the boys in teal like I do every game. But for now, this is the most important game of the season. Go Sharks!

Forecast: My forecast sucked last time and Gray made me promise not to make one for this game just in case I jinx things. That being said, all I know is that the game will go into overtime and come down to a shoot-out because I have a zillion things I need to do before flying down to LA tomorrow.

In Case You Missed What Day It Was

copyright 2008. Let's try to not spread this around the interwebs, folks.

Pre-Season Game Review: Sharks vs. Canucks (in photo form...with commentary!)

Warning: There are a lot of pictures here. If you're on Dial-up (and God have pity on you if you are), this will make your connection cry.

Sharks Starting Line

Mina: Yay hockey!
Gray: Yay hockey!
Mina: You know, Rob Blake still looks old from up here.

Canucks Starting Line

Gray: Wow, the Canucks look shiny.
Mina: At least it's not the Sedins. God I hate the Sedins.

Brian Boucher

Mina: Yay! Bobby Boucher!
Gray: You do know his name is Brian. He's been on the team for a while. You should have learned his name by now.
Mina: I know that, but every time I see him, all I can think of is the Waterboy. *snicker*

First Fight

Mina: Ryane Clowe! God I missed him.
Gray: It's good to see he's in fighting form.


Gray: Why are you taking pictures of a faceoff?
Mina: Maybe something cool will happen. Like a Marcel Goc spin-o-rama for a goal.
Gray: Riiiiight.
Mina: Hey, it could happen.


Gray: It's nice to see that a complete overhaul of our defense has lead to opponents still standing alone in front of our goalie.
Mina: And if by nice, you mean why-the-hell-did-we-need-to-get-rid-of-Craig-Rivet-for-this, then yes.


Mina: Holy crap! Plihal!
Gray: Holy crap! Shot on goal!

Better defense

Mina: Hey! Look at that! A defender!
Gray: Amazing! Look what $5 mil can buy us.

Close chance

Mina: I'm not sure I can last a whole season if one shot in a pre-season game is causing me panic.
Gray: I'm not sure I'll be able to keep from hitting you every time you freak out.


Mina: God bless Bobby Boucher.
Gray: *sigh*

Not Graham Mink

Mina: Hi Not Graham Mink!
Gray: I'm sure he'd like you to learn his name.
Mina: He's a long shot to make the team. If he makes the roster, I'll try to learn his name. But no promises.


Mina: This is the Sharks/Canucks game I came to see.
Gray: I can't believe they don't like each other enough to fight like this in a pre-season game. But I enjoy seeing them defending their teammates.


Mina: Hey! Luon-God! Can't you let in just one goal? Pretty please.
Gray: I'm pretty sure he has incentive to not do that.
Mina: There's no harm in asking.
Gray: Other than looking like an idiot.

Staubitz v. Rypien 2

Mina: Who are these guys?
Gray: I have no idea. But they seem to dislike each other.

Staubitz v. Rypien 4

Mina: Way to go guy I don't know!
Gray: We might win a fight!

Staubitz v. Rypien 5

Gray: Oh no wait, he's up.
Mina: But the good news is that this is an entertaining fight.

Staubitz v. Rypien 6

Mina: Oh! Nice cross!
Gray: These guys are putting on a hell of a show.

Staubitz v. Rypien 7

Mina: Looks to me like the beginning of the end for Staubitz.
Gray: Pretty much.

Staubitz v. Rypien 9

Mina: Down goes Staubitz!
Gray: Still all in all, it was a hell of a fight. Hope the Sharks can get something going after this. The poor kid gave quite an effort.


Gray: While this is not as fight filled as last year's pre-season game, this has certainly been full of conflict.
Mina: I've never figured out when these teams grew to hate each other so much. But I like it!

Goalie Goal!

Gray: Don't we get 3 points if the goalie goes into their own goal?
Mina: Only in your hockey universe.

In front of the net

Mina: I think I'm hallucinating. Is there a Shark player in front of the net?
Gray: You're not crazy. There is a Shark there. What is bizarre is that it's not Ryane Clowe.

In front of the net 2

Gray: Wonders never cease. Goc is still in front of the net.
Mina: If these Sharks are still playing in April, I'll be very happy.

Crashing the net

Mina: Holy hell! They're all crashing the net. What manner of insanity is this?
Gray: I have no idea, but God bless the cephalopod.

In front of the net 3

Mina: Ryane Clowe is back home. I feel better.
Gray: You never realize how much you'd miss him till he's gone.

In front of the net 4

Mina: This is nuts! There is a different Shark in front of the net.
Gray: We should stop acting so shocked. The new people around us might think we are weird.

Holy crap goal!

Mina: Ohmigod! A goal!
Gray: Finally! This does not bode well for the season.
Mina: Indeed it does not. But goddamn did I miss hockey.
Gray: I can't wait for the season to start. And to see these pictures on the blog.
Mina: Yea.....about that.....

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Gray's Not Quite Season Preview

copyright 2008. Let's try to not spread this around the interwebs, folks.

I have a confession to make. I don't know what the Sharks are going to do this season. I have read other predictions by a variety of knowledgeable (and some not so knowledgeable) people, but at the end of the day I still don't really feel confident trying to guess what will happen. (despite this fact, Mina made me guess where all 30 teams would finish. Emphasis on the word guess.) The Sharks are bit of an unknown this year with a new coach, new system, and a bit of a roster shake up. Sure, they still have their star players, and all claim to be healthy and ready to go, but will they preform to expectations? What about Blake and Boyle? Are they going to be the boon that management says they will be?

I also still find myself wondering if the team has the mental energy to push themselves over that second round hump. That's assuming, of course, that the Sharks make the playoffs. Saying they won't is probably overly pessimistic, but I try not to assume anything going into the start of the season lest it cause great disappointment later.

The season will go how it goes, there's nothing I can do to change that. I can only do so much as a fan to push my team forward, the rest is up to them.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

We'll Miss You, Kyle

I'm not surprised but I am still saddened to see Kyle McLaren placed on waivers. My number 4 jersey just won't be the same after this. I know we need to move him for the cap space and he was less than steller last season but the Tank just won't been the same without him and his ability to flatten men against the glass with his "hip." (it's not a hip check. Not unless the hip sits further back than it did when we covered basic anatomy in figure drawing)

I'm curious what will happen next. I figure if someone wanted to trade for him, they would have already, but who knows.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Yes, I do still work here...

I promise that I have several things that I've been working on getting posted to the site. Ask Gray, there are 2 drafts sitting in the queue waiting for my lazy ass to finish them. One of the other things I've been working on is short, "insightful" season previews for as many teams as possible. But the season is drawing nearer and the Sharks one is my priority so that might not happen.

However, one of the things I wanted to have is a small little competition between Gray, my younger brother and myself to see who could best predict the finishes in both conferences. Chances are very good that we will be wildly inaccurate but it is fun to try. I haven't decided the best way to determine who does the best, but we can cross that bridge when the end of the season comes. Below are all three of our predictions, keeping in mind that the predictions were made before the European leg of the NHL season was played. Feel free to mock in the comments or join us by making your own predictions.


1. Pittsburg
2. Washington
3. Montreal
4. NJ
5. NYR
6. Buffalo
7. Boston
8. Philadelphia
9. Tampa Bay
10. Toronto
11. Ottawa
12. NYI
13. Carolina
14. Florida
15. Atlanta

1. Detroit
2. San Jose
3. Anahiem
4. Calgary
5. Dallas
6. Chicago
7. Nashville
8. Edmonton
9. Phoenix
10. Vancouver
11. Colorado
12. Minnesota
13. Columbus
14. St. Louis
15. LA

Geoff (my younger brother)

1. Tampa Bay
2. Montreal
3. Penguins
4. Flyers
5. Senators
6. New Jersey
7. Washington
8. Buffalo
9. Toronto
10. Rangers
11. Carolina
12. Islanders
13. Atlanta
14. Boston
15. Florida

1. Detroit
2. San Jose
3. Calgary
4. Chicago
5. Anaheim
6. Colorado
7. Dallas
8. Coyotes
9. Edmonton
10. Vancouver
11. St. Louis
12. Minnesota
13. Columbus
14. Nashville
15. LA

1. Montreal
2. Pittsburgh
3. Washington
4. New York Rangers
5. Philadelphia
6. Tampa Bay
7. New Jersey Devils
8. Boston
9. Ottawa
10. New York Islanders
11. Buffalo
12. Toronto
13. Atlanta
14. Carolina
15. Florida

1. Detroit
2. San Jose
3. Colorado
4. Dallas
5. Calgary
6. Anaheim
7. Chicago
8. Vancouver
9. Minnesota
10. Phoenix
11. Edmonton
12. Nashville
13. Columbus
14. St. Louis
15. Los Angeles

So there you have it: three generally blind stabs in the dark as to how the teams will finish come the beginning of April. If you have a mind to, come join in on the fun. You know you wanna.

Opening Night Novella

Some of you were lucky enough to have your season start last night. For Sharks fans, the season doesn't officially start until Oct 9th. I await it with some apprehension. Opening nights are always high drama even without the additional awkwardness that the strange occurrences at the Tank add to experience.

Last year, the power went out. It was the weirdest game I have ever been to and the only one where I wished they had glow sticks hanging in the bathroom.

From our seats, we could hear the percussive THUMP of the electricity as it tried to comeback on, to no avail. The players kept skating around for warm up for a few minutes after it went dark, apparently so in tune with the rink that a little matter like darkness was no cause for concern. If it weren't for the very large glass facades on either side of HP, it would have been pitch black in that building. As it was, when an usher, puzzled by the darkness and unsure of what to do, closed his or her door, it suddenly became extraordinarily dark where we were sitting. A mere two seats between us the the stairs, they were almost invisible. The usher, realizing they'd plunged fans into great darkness, opened the door allowing the light from outside to stream in and illuminate our way down.

Eventually, the staff were able to get some auxiliary lights to come on, at which point the game commenced. Silently. They didn't even let us sing the anthem. We couldn't have been much worse than the gentleman who forgot a verse, but did it with such style that I seriously doubt most people noticed.

So I find myself wondering, what will happen this Thursday, as 17,000+ faithful fans file into to watch their Sharks play their first official game of the season. Will the water main burst? Will the Guadalupe River flood its banks again? Will said flood contain some sort of half fish half man hybrid that will terrorize downtown San Jose? Will aliens land on center ice and steal Nabby? Will "the big one" hit as the puck drops? Will Cheechoo bust through the boards once more, only to cause a chain reaction which collapses the boards completely, forcing the game to be rescheduled? Will ghosts rise up and start driving cabs recklessly around the city? Or, defying all logic, will this game be completely normal and go off without the slightest hitch? I don't know. The only thing I can say with certainly is that 17,000+ fans will arrive opening night to see their Sharks start, once again, on the long road to the Cup.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Chomping Joe Thornton

As requested:

That shark should have a logo on his jersey, I think. Maybe Joe Thornton's face biting through a hockey stick?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Couch Tarts Hockey Field Trip (kinda)

Next weekend I will be making the trip down to LA to see only the second Sharks road game I have ever seen. (The first was when I was living in DC before I was a serious, blog writing, hockey fan) I should be the only person in 332 wearing a Torrey Mitchell jersey if you want to come say hi. (*cough* Rudy Kelly *cough* Mr Plank *cough*) I still can't believe that the tickets are $30. $30! Seriously. I promise to be as well behaved as possible especially since I am bringing a friend who isn't a big hockey fan and I'd like him to still talk to me after the game. I promise I don't bite and most likely won't stalk you later.

It is also in my plans to be able to see the Sharks play in Anaheim sometime this season. However, I really want Gray to come with me but she's afraid she might get us kicked out of the arena. (Seriously her patience is the stuff of legends and her previous run-ins with Anaheim fans (of the Angels variety) have been less than ideal) What I need is a Ducks fan (*cough* Sleek *cough*) to convince her that it would be an awesome idea for us to go to a game at the Pond. Cause if you think we are awesome online (and we are), imagine how fantastic we would be in enemy territory.

In Which Gray Gets Bored and Draws a Shark

copyright 2008. Let's try to not spread this around the interwebs, folks.

A dip pen, ink and a camera will save you when you're tired of work and looking for momentary excitment.

Preseason Minutiae

I admit, there have been times when I have lamented the fact that my small frame is lost in a regular jersey and that attempting to wear one not originally intended for a child who's about to hit their teen aged years results in my best impression of a little kid in Dad's shirt. That does not mean, however, that I desire to have a pale blue (or pink) and gray jersey encrusted with glitter. In fact, I am quite certain I'd feel uncomfortable wearing this or this.

It's just not for me.

I might be tempted to try a lady's jersey, (a jersey that differs from the regular ones in cut only), if not for the fact that Mina would beat me senseless for it. She carries a large bag ladies and gentlemen, and getting hit with it would hurt. That is as much of a deterrent as I need to stick to my kids L-XL jerseys and stay out of the sports world's version of ladies wear.

I don't feel that feminine cuts minimize the seriousness of the female fan when she wears one. It's a choice, much like choosing to wear t-shirts or sweat shirts with their team's name or logo on it instead of a jersey. True, puck bunnies, and the versions of them that exist in other sports, popularize the image of the attractive, young female fan wearing a feminine jersey tied up to expose her tanned, flat stomach to the masses, but that doesn't mean every women who wears a pink or more fashionably cut jersey is a puck bunny. Some people just like different things. While I'd prefer the pink jerseys didn't exists at all, that stems more from the fact that I dislike the idea of offering women clothing options in largely stereotypical colors and the fact that they're ugly.

I'd like the makers of sports related clothing to get that memo and stop making every shirt available in my size a glittery, rhinestone encrusted mess. I'd love it if my Clowe shirt were something other than a men's medium, but my options were that or a pale pink tiny tee. I stand by my over sized decision.