11/28 sharks 2, ST. LOUIS 0
It wasn't the blowout expected by many fans, but the Sharks got it done. Riding the rookies and the goalie, the Sharks were able to get a win against a team and in a building that, just a couple years ago, haunted them. Ryane Clowe got his third of the year and recent call-up Joe Pavelski his second, and Vesa Toskala played a solid game, stopping all 29 shots he faced, giving the Sharks back-to-back shutouts.
Despite the good overall record, people wondered if the Teal could take their successful play on the road. The offensive-minded portion of that question was quickly answered (two minutes in), when Clowe banged a puck home that seemed to deflect off a Blue defenseman and just trickle through the legs of Manny Legace (LEG-asee, hah, that's funny). The rest of the period saw a tight battle, as the Blues got one of their few great scoring chances, a Petr Cajanek shot tipped by Blues Captain Dallas Drake that rang off the post so loud, someone in Kansas City went to their door to see who was there.
The Sharks wasted no time in the second doing the job again. This time it was rookie Joe Pavelski, playing in just his third NHL game, beating Legace just six seconds in to their first power play of the night, and just over a minute into the period. From there on, it was just up to Toskala to play solid, and solid he played, for his second shutout of the season, and second on the road (the first one came in Columbus on Oct. 25).
The Scottrade Center (formerly the Savvis Center and the Kiel Center before that; how rare, a building has the horrible name hat trick, in only ten years no less) is a diamond in the rough. Not a knock on the City of St. Louis, but the buildings that surround the Scott are not exactly new in nature. The outside of the building is very reminiscent of the building in Nashville, with an elevated bowl protruding up from the rectangular base of the structure. Covered fully in silver, with glass in the front area, this building looks like a spaceship, ready to take fans to hockey from another dimension (a heckle I actually heard on this evening towards the Blues). The inside however, is a bit surprising.
From the beautiful facade outside the 'Trade, one would expect a pretty state-of-the-art arena inside. However, picture if you will... relatively dark concourses; exposed wires and pipes that make one think of a basement or a cellar (the actual thing, not the figurative place where bad teams are); the old style clocks with the kinda green/yellow painted planks that turn or flip to change numbers (there's probably a technical term for this style, but I'm a fan of hockey, so I'm clueless); even to the 1991 contest between the Sharks and Blues at the Cow Palace being shown on the TVs throughout the building before the pre-game skate (take a wild guess who won). Walking through the doors might cause one to think that they've stepped into ... The Twilight Zone.
The food in the Scott is nothing stellar, with all the standard fare available. The only brand name I came across were the golden arches of McDonald's (thankfully they weren't painted silver in honor of the Gateway Arch that stands just down the street). Behind my section and stretching over a few others is the Top Shelf, an eating/bar area consisting of a gathering of concession stands. The unique draw to this area are the widened entrance ways and raised upper seating, allowing those who are in the Top Shelf to watch all the action from the comfort of their bar stools (either peering through the large openings to the ice, or the giant TVs that hang in the area.)
The seating is nothing unusual, except for the blue and purple seats (they look pretty cool, but don't exactly match any of the tenants). I sat in the lower rows of the 300's, in the lip of the top deck, so my sight lines were pretty good. The building seemed small enough that even in the top rows, the visibility would not be affected.
A good game (for fans of the fins, that is) and a pretty nice building/experience (I wasn't heckled because there was no one there to heckle me) equal a good start to a road trip that is only going to get tougher. Announced attendance wasn't announced, that's a clue to how low it was. In the newspaper, it was listed at 8,600 something. The back-to-back continues tonight here in St. Paul against the Wild, a team that is tough enoughy to play, and even tougher at home (game time 5:00 PST).
On a side note, it's really cold here in St. Paul, 15F degrees at 3 in the afternoon as I'm writing this. Usually in SJ, it's colder inside the arena than outside. It'll be nice to sit in a building where it's 30-40 degrees for a couple of hours before walking across the street to my hotel when it's supposed to be 8F (wind chill 0 F). Welcome to Winter; Population one really cold California kid.
Go Sharks (Go sunshine)
The blue note, so nice they painted it twice.
The inside of the 'Trade, with all its many banners and people in the stands.