1/28 VANCOUVER 3, sharks 1
Rackin' frackin' Roberto Luongo. Sharks put out another pretty decent effort, record 40 shots, a few great scoring chances, and they have the two points stolen from them by some schmoe who stands on his head in the blue paint on the other side of the ice. Ok, so maybe Luongo isn't exactly a schmoe (he did start for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game last week), but he did stand on his head to get the win for the Orca-nucks. On the other end of the ice stood Evgeni Nabokov, a bit of a tough luck loser, facing 23 shots, and only letting in 2 (first one on a breakaway, second one was chopped as it was rolling, and floated up and in). Joe Pavelski (Milan Michalek, Christian Ehrhoff) had the lone goal for the Sharks, a pretty garbage goal (oxymoron), whacked in with a backhand while falling down about 15 feet out.
It may not mean much, the Sharks have lost just 3 games in their last 11, and Nabokov has been in net for all 3 of them. Now, in defense of Nabby, the Sharks have only scored 3 goals in those 3 losses. Another number I found interesting: The Vancouver Canucks have now been outshot for the 13th consecutive game, and are 10-3 in that span. With a goalie like Luongo, who might as well play above a local peewee netminder on the depth charts (and pretty much plays with no backup. When asked, quite a few Canuck fans didn't know who the backup was), it'll be interesting to see what would happen to the Canucks should he go down with an injury, or just get fatigued during the stretch run.
As in Edmonton, the fans in Vancouver are pretty nice, a bit more drunk and subsequently rowdy (or maybe I just got lucky to have them in my section in both games here), but still pretty nice. I talked with a couple guys during the intermissions (can't believe I didn't ask for your names to put on the blog here), and they even bought me a beer at the second intermission (thank you again). I sat next to a nice couple, who even shared their insanely large bag (think grocery bag) of popcorn with me. There were a few drunks who tried to tell me that the Sharks sucked, and the Canucks were way better, but they all had a tough time telling me how many more Cups the 'Nucks have won (the answer is 0, neither team has won a Cup).
Unlike most other cities, there were a GREAT deal of Sharks fans in the Garage (GM Place) on this evening. Quite a few made the trip up from SJ, including Greg, a long time buddy of mine who doubled a hockey game into a weekend of visiting family. Surprisingly, there were also a bunch of locals (Victoria Island isn't too far) who came for the game, which didn't turn out too great this time around (we got 'em in October though).
As I write this, I'm just a few hours (about 4.5, to be exact) from returning to the states, and the nice, lovely, above freezing temperatures of home (Nor Cal will never be considered cold in my mind EVER again). The Sharks open a four game homestand before being gone for almost the whole rest of February (but we'll get to that next week) Tuesday night when they play the first of two consecutive home games against the Dallas Stars (7:30 pst). The season series is knotted at 2, with each team taking a game at home and on the road. As I write this, the Sharks have a 6 point lead over the Stars, and are even in games played. By Friday morning, either team could see a huge benefit from this schedule abnormality, but, we'll just have to see what happens.
Go Sharks (I officially veto the Luongo-Bertuzzi trade from this off-season, it should take effect immediately)
The Garage has a neon sign.
The Garage to the right.
The Garage to the left.
The few banners that hang in the middle of the Garage. Garage.