Wednesday, January 31, 2007

1/30 dallas 3, SHARKS 2 SO


****, ****, ****, and ****. For those of you wanting to learn how to just stop playing after two periods, I give you Exhibit A. Yes, the Sharks are 33-17-1, but it seems like those 17 (and that stupid 1) are far more memorable than the 33. Yet again, the Sharks showed off their ability to Jekyll and Hyde in one game. They Jekylled themselves out to a 2-0 lead, and then in the third, Hyde came out to play, or hide, as the case was.

In a game that was slow offensively until the final 20 minutes, the Sharks looked to have the game dominated, holding the Stars (boo) to just 9 shots, while enjoying a 2 goal lead thanks to goals from Joe Pavelski [11] (Milan Michalek, Marc-Edouard Vlasic) and Patrick Marleau [25] (Ryane Clowe, Joe Thornton). Despite a couple chances to put the game out of reach (Curtis Brown deked goalie Marty Turco, and himself, right out of a wide open net, 1:25 of 5-3, followed by 2:35 more of 5-4), the Sharks could not improve on a 2-0 lead, and, in the 3rd, it ended up costing them. The Stars (boo), to their credit (I guess), woke up in the 3rd, working hard, hitting, shooting, and most importantly, scoring, recording a pair of goals, including a goal with the extra attacker with just 2.2 left to play that sent the game to overtime.

Yet again, there were barely any Stars (boo) fans in attendance last night, as, well, they just decided not to, I guess. The Stars (boo) are among one of the more hated teams in the Tank, and I guess their fans don't want to deal with that. There was one guy, who prided himself in acting like a moron, standing up and clapping his hands vertically, I guess trying to emulate "The Chomp", but instead just looking like a fool. Last time the Stars (boo) were here, there was almost a fight in 209 because of Stars (boo) fans standing up and refusing to sit down, just because. No one ever accused the visiting Stars (boo) fans of burning bright, an accusation they seem unable to live up to anyway.

The Sharks get a day to stew over this game, then they get to do it all over, taking on the Dallas Stars (boo) again tomorrow, Thursday (7:30 pst). Where as 2006 saw Black Thursday suck, 2007 is undefeated, seeing the Sharks maintain a 2-0 record while wearing the all black alternate jerseys. Tomorrow's game should be a physical one, at least from the Sharks point of view. If this team wants to redeem themselves, tomorrow game, location, and opponent are exactly the right match to show some redemption. With Evgeni Nabokov and probably Marty Turco in nets, it should be another close game, hopefully this one won by the good guys (shouldn't have to explain this one).

Go Sharks (don't forget to boo the "stars" in the Star [boo] Spangled Banner)

Monday, January 29, 2007

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.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Los Angeles Kings @ Edmonton Oilers 1/27

Usually when I have a break between games on the road, I just go to local malls or museums, something to do to pass the time, but, thanks to the NHL schedule, I had something a bit more Odyssey related to do. The night after the Sharks came in and made the Oilers look all Jekyll-y, their SoCal counterpart (the Kings) brought out the Hyde-y side of the Copper and Blue.

On this night I definitely saw a much more exciting, closely fought matchup (Oilers won 4-3). The lead went back and forth all night, and saw the Oilers score twice in the third period to get the win. I again talked to the Oil fans sitting around me, again, very nice people. When a man sitting in the section behind mine, in the 300s (read: seats 3 inches from the rafters) won 29,000 CAD in the 50/50 drawing, everyone in my section practically gave him a standing o when he triumphantly ran down the stairs to claim his prize.

It was weird being a fan of another team, just because I've never had to do it before. I have some sort of problem with not having a jersey or a team paraphernalia when I'm at a game, even if I don't much care for either team. It's some sort of disease, it gets into my brain and rots away at my wallet. After deciding which players I could and could not wear on my player t-shirt, I set off to the store to pick one up. Lupul - no, too new and people don't like him that much. Torres - hell no, he's pretty despicable because of that Michalek hit, and to see it again, and see that his original target was Marleau makes me that much more steamed. Roloson - shoot me now, he does have a great glove hand, but never have I seen a goalie who is better at diving than Greg Louganis. There was no Stoll, Smith, or Smyth, so I took good ole Ales Hemsky (little did I know he would record 4 points).

With that circle and the dripping "Oilers" on my chest, I set out for my seat, being a part of the Oil faithful. I didn't mention yesterday, but the walkways at Rexall are stupid narrow (that's how the kids say "very narrow"). It's impossible to walk around without crashing into someone. The concourses are kinda nice, but waaay too small to inhabit anywhere close to the 16,800 some that fill Rexall each and every night.

When the Oilers scored first, almost instinctively I jumped up from my seat and started celebrating Ryan Smyth's goal. It must have been the Canadian (Molson) I had on a fully empty stomach that temporarily brainwashed me into genuinely caring for the Oilers like a team I had been caring for my whole life. I never did utter a "let's go oilers", but I did do plenty of clapping, none of which can be traced to me (and if you try, I'll deny everything). I did stand up for each goal, and was happy to see the Oilers win, but partially because I didn't feel like coexisting with angry disgruntled Oiler fans two nights in a row (and it helps that I don't care for the Kings).

I tell you though, it was nice to not have a target on my chest and back for once. I could walk around the concourses and not hear who "sucks". I got nary a stank-eye from any Oiler faithful, and it was nice to not be booed when I got on and off the LRT (and nobody tried to block me from boarding the LRT either). I'm not sure I would cheer for the Oilers again, but that's just because I am not a true Oiler fan, my NHL allegiance lies elsewhere.

Sharks visit Vancouver to take on the Canucks tonight (7:00 pst). Check 'er out.

Go Sharks (hooray for soon-to-be me in warm weather [I land in Vancouver at 1:35])

Oil usually comes from a derrick, in this case, it was the Oilers who came from said derrick.

The Party Zamboni. Nuff said.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

1/26 sharks 5, EDMONTON 1

Twice this season the Sharks had played the Oilers, and twice this season the Sharks had the Oilers beat. Keying on the word had, they led in both games, only to be outhustled later in the game by the boys from Edmonton. However, on this night, the Sharks had the jump from the first whistle, and despite going down by 1 midway through the first, they were able to battle back, take control in the second, and stay solid in the third.

Last time the Sharks were in this building, they had a 4-2 lead after the first 40, and fell asleep in the third, allowing the Oilers to come back and take the victory, however last night, there was no such comeback. Patrick Marleau lead the way for the Sharks with a pair of goals. Mike Grier, Patrick Rissmiller, and Joe Thornton also scored for the Sharks, who only won for the fourth time in the last 14 games against the Oilers. Ryane Clowe had 3 assists, Josh Gorges added a pair of helpers, and Vesa Toskala, usually shaky at Rexall, recorded 20 saves for his 21st victory of the season.

Rexall Place has always been a tough place for the Sharks to play, as it is more compact than most other buildings, increasing the noise levels greatly, and putting those really loud fans right over the ice. As I found out last time I was here in Edmonton, the fans here are passionate for their boys and the game of hockey, and are just overall nice people. On this night I had the pleasure of meeting quite a few Oil fans, and actually ended up spending most of the game engaging in conversations with those sitting around me. Despite a few of those conversations being "previous SJ/Ed contest results", it was a very fun evening, slightly highlighted by the outcome of the game. As I have in many cities, I now have new friends/readers of the blog, at least temporarily, in Mark and Lauds, two of Alberta's finest teachers (or at least that's what they told me).

From the cold (9F today in Edmonton), the Sharks will go westward towards the Pacific tomorrow (Sunday) for a matchup with the Vancouver Canucks (7:00 pst). The Canucks sit tied with Calgary atop the Northwest Division, spurred by their great play 7-1-2) in their last 10 games. The two teams have met just once this year, in Vancouver, with the Sharks leaving GM Place with a 6-4 victory.

Side note: Because of the Sharks off day, I am in Edmonton today and have the opportunity to go to the Oilers/Kings game. Expect a small recap tomorrow.

Go Sharks (hooray for no more Ryan Smyth nightmares)

Upside-down oil drop.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Mrs. Knaster Goes to the All-Star Game

(Special guest post by Jess's mom)

Wow, not only did I get to see many of the best hockey players in the world, I get to be a guest writer for the Sharks Hockey Odyssey (SHO). Due to an inadvertent purchase of a Young Stars Game ticket and the purposeful purchase of a pair of tickets for the game itself, an interesting situation presented itself. I was all for selling the extra tickets to recoup some of the ongoing costs of the SHO, but Jess and Scott (my husband, Jess's father) talked me into joining the fun in Dallas. I have been travelling recently to Denver, New York and Denver again for family business, and I was really quite content to stay home and catch up. Obviously, I was convinced that I deserved to travel for fun.

I did invoke some maternal prerogative as I planned my travel. Since we didn't have a ticket for Monday night, I planned to fly into Dallas on Tuesday. Whereas Jess is required to fly economically (complete with layovers and stops), I opted for the direct non-stop flight from San Jose to DFW. I also took a taxi to the hotel, rather than the Super Shuttle, another nod to parental privilege. The Hotel Lawrence is a funky boutique hotel just across the street from Dealey Plaza and they were kind enough to downgrade Jess from his king-bed room to a room with two queens.

We took the hotel shuttle to the American Airlines Center along with other hockey fans (Jess knew them all already, of course) to see the Young Stars Game and the Super Skills competition. Our tickets were not together, so I went upstairs while Jess sat downstairs. I sat directly behind the television broadcast booth. Bill Clement, Doc Emrick, Mark Messier and Eddie Olczyk (I think) as well as the guys from TSN seemed to be having great fun broadcasting the rookie game and the skills competition. The fans seated next to me were friendly and enjoyed watching their hometown Stars competing. After we got back to the hotel, we had a nice dinner in the bar in the hotel lobby. A very nice gentleman actually thought that Jess and I were a couple, rather than mother and son. Very flattering, it made my day.

Wednesday we slept in a bit, then wandered across the street to Union Station to take the DART (light rail) down a few blocks to the West End district to find lunch. We had a nice meal at Landry's Seafood, then walked back towards our hotel to visit the 6th Floor Museum. The 6th floor of the Texas Book Depository has been made into an interesting, very moving museum chronicling the Kennedy presidency, the events of Nov. 22, 1963 and the repercussions of those events. We walked back to the hotel past Dealey Plaza, the grassy knoll, and some monuments, statues and reflecting ponds dedicated to the founders of the city of Dallas.

The All-Star Game was a lot of fun. We had seen the NHL All-Stars when the game was played in San Jose in 1997, and this was just as entertaining. As we approached the arena, we were stopped by Joe Thornton's mom, who gave Jess a hockey card signed by her son (see Jess's post for more details) and I took a picture of Jess with Joe Thornton's parents. We listened a bit to the concert by Robert Randolph and the Family Band and then went in when the doors opened. We did a bit of souvenir shopping for the family back home before the store got too claustrophobic, and then found our seats downstairs behind the goal. We enjoyed talking to other fans, watching the entertaining antics of the mascots (Tommy Hawk sat in front of us for a while) and just basking in the party atmosphere. The game, as usual, was entertaining hockey, since there were no hits, not much defense, and some other-worldly passing, shooting and goalie acrobatics. There was also plenty of scoring (my ears were still ringing from the incredibly loud horn that blew 17+ times the night before).

Thursday morning Jess got back into his regular solo routine, packing up his stuff without me having to nag or remind, checking out of the hotel and taking the Super Shuttle (which he'd arranged the day before) to the airport. He flew to Edmonton, via Denver and a 3-hour layover, while I left a couple of hours later on my decadent direct flight back home and back to being the mom.

When we agreed to let Jess embark on the SHO, both Scott and I talked about how we would love to do something like it. I'm not sure I would enjoy the travelling as much as I would have if I were younger and nimbler, but this was just the right amount of odyssey for me right now. Thanks, family, for encouraging me to go to Dallas; thanks to Scott and Devi for being resilient in my absence, thanks to Robin Dalton (Abigail's mom) for taking over the carpool while I was away and thanks to Jess, for letting me share some of the fun.

All-Star Game and festivities 1/22-1/24

Monday began when I landed, after what felt like 10 flights and 3 days worth of travel (it was only 3 flights, and 6 hours, but it took a toll on my tiny little brain). After landing at Dallas Love Field, I took a taxi to my hotel, where I began the meeting of other out-of-town fans (a theme). I met a couple women from St. Louis, already clad in Blues garb. I caught a ride down to the American Airlines Center in the hotel shuttle with the women, for the first night of the celebration of the league's top players, aptly named "The Celebration of Stars", which was a nice way of saying, "remembering the old guys".

An event containing many great names from recent hockey past (including everyone's favorite hockey player, Cuba Gooding Jr. as the emcee), it sure seemed like an event that was meant to be seen by more than just the few thousand who made it into the Hangar that night. The event wasn't bad, but the mix of Cuba Gooding Jr, dancing people with giant glow-in-the-dark stars on their shirts, those weird looking giant balloon things, and 80 metric tons of streamers dumped on my head, made it seem like the not-All-Star Game happening that it was. There were a few of the great names of the 80's and 90's (Ray Bourque, Al McInnis, Mark Messier), showed a short video history of their careers, and then came out to answer a few questions from Cuba and his assistant "host" Pierre McGuire. But the real highlight of the day for me sprouted roots much earlier in the day.

Flying on three Southwest Airlines flights (San Jose to Las Vegas, change planes, LV to El Paso, TX, same plane, El Paso to Dallas), it probably was naive to think I wouldn't lose my bag, and if I had been expecting it, I wouldn't have been let down. I arrived at Love Field on time, but my bag, containing my two Sharks jerseys, did not. Not having it in my possesion when it was time to head to the first night of events, I figured I'd have to get some form of hockey clothing to wear for the night, since I was kinda at a hockey event. After purchasing a Joe Thornton 97 Western Conference player T-shirt, I went back to my seat. Later on, I went to get food, and was standing in line when I heard words from behind me, "that's a nice name to be wearing". A woman, seemingly in her 50's or 60's, was the owner of the words. After asking her if she was a Sharks fan, I was met with the response, " Yes, well, he's my son". Bam, Joe Thornton's mother, and me talking to her (more on her later).

Tuesday saw the YoungStars game, the SuperSkills Competition, and my mother come to Dallas to take it all in (on a side note, during the day, I went to the Dallas World Aquarium, very very cool place, very worth the $16 price of admission, just don't expect the leopard to be awake [apparently it's thought that he's drugged, because no one has ever seen him awake/ not staggering around his "palace"] ). Tuesday night's events were much better attended, much closer to full capacity, but still a couple thousand away from full. My mother and I rode down to the events with a couple from New York, a Ranger and an Islander fan.

The group that did make it down saw a semi-entertaining YoungStars game (with the Sharks own, Matt Carle, who had one goal, shorthanded no less, came on the only penalty of the game. The game was followed by the SuperSkills, a series of events that focus on key skills and elements that make a great hockey player: speed, shot power, shot accuracy, puck handling skills, tic-tac-toe passing, and ability on the penalty shot. All three Sharks competed, and fared pretty well. Patrick Marleau was beat out by Andy MacDonald by 5/100 of a second in the fastest skater event, Joe Thornton hit 4 targets in 6 shots in the accuracy event, and Jonathan Cheechoo scored during in the shootout event.

The big celebrity run-in for me on Tuesday was meeting a WWF (now WWE) sports entertainer (read professional wrestler) by the name of Edge. Edge, for those who do not know, is a tall, tan, blond haired Canadian man, (referred to by my mom and some other fans as "the hot guy" they showed on the big screen). Note to all, bring three pens to the ASG and all it's events, to ensure that you get stuff signed should you run into a celebrity.

Wednesday was the final day of events, leading up to the big game itself (not the SuperBowl), the 55th NHL All-Star Game. The game was pretty entertaining, as the lead was never stretched to more than 3 goals, as it was when Dion Phaneuf showed off the physics of a rolling puck and how unpredictable it can be, even when shot from behind the net in one's own defensive zone (Phaneuf was simply attempting to clear the puck out of the zone from behind his own net, when the puck hopped on it's edge, took on a life of it's own, and rolled to the promised land about 190 feet down the sheet. The one disappointment for me was the lack of production that came from the All-Shark line (Marleau-Thornton-Cheechoo). Despite having a bunch of great scoring chances, they were only able to record 9 shots between them (Cheechoo 4, Marleau 3, Thornton 2) and just one goal (Marleau [Cheechoo, Nicklas Lidstrom]) while going a -1 collectively on the evening.

The last starstruck moment of the trip came for me right after my mother and I were dropped off by the shuttle (no fans on the shuttle with us) before the game. Walking up the steps of the south plaza, I was tapped on the arm by someone. I turned around to see that it was Mrs. Joe Thornton's Mom (not her name, but it's fun to say that way). She produced, out of her pocket, a signed Joe Thornton card. Not anything too major, but still, it was pretty cool that she remembered me, and I'm guessing she had to ask Joe to sign a card, since she probably doesn't carry around player cards signed by her son.

The All-Star Game is fun for a few reasons.

1) First and foremost, it's for the fans. The players don't care too much because it doesn't lead to a Stanley Cup. Everything is done for the fans, because without them, well, let's just say it would look awfully silly for Rod Brind 'Amour to raise that cup in Raleigh in front of a fully empty RBC Center. Everything is done with the fans in mind, mostly.
2) The mascots. Nothing is cooler than seeing Blades the Bruin (Boston), Carlton the Bear (Toronto), Fin (Vancouver), Gnash (Nashville), Howler (Phoenix), Iceburgh (Pittsburgh),NJ Devil (New Jersey), SJ Sharkie (San Jose), Sabretooth (Buffalo), Sparky (New York Islanders), Sparty [Spartacat] (Ottawa), Stanley C Panther (Florida), Stinger (Columbus), Stormy (Carolina), Thrash (Atlanta), ThunderBug (Tampa Bay), Tommy Hawk (Chicago), Wildwing (Anaheim), or Youppi (Montreal) in the same building at once.
3) Seeing the Celebrities is fun, cause us little people don't get a chance to do it often.
4) It's hockey, and everyone (well, except for the corporates) in attendance is there to celebrate hockey from all over which leads to
5) Meeting fans from other cities. It's great to be able to talk hockey with a friend, it's even better to talk hockey with a stranger.

The All-Star break has ended, and now it's time to really get down to business. The Sharks sit at 32-16, second in the Pacific, 4 points behind the Ducks with two games in hand, and 5th in the West, one point back of the Detroit Red Wings. 34 games to go in the regular season, before "The Tournament". The stretch run begins tonight, in Alberta, against the struggling Edmonton Oilers. The Oil hold a 2-0 season series lead over the Sharks, winning both 3-2 in SJ last month, and 6-4 here in Edmonton in October. They have lost 6 of their last 8 at home, but have won 10 of their last 13 (including playoffs) against the Sharks, with one of those falling tonight. Hopefully, it's the second one.

Go Sharks (Youppi!)

West All-Stars lining up for their picture. Marleau (10) and Selanne (8) discussing how much nicer the weather is in California.

The East All-Stars. I would have gotten this shot off earlier, but my camera was buried in streamers on the ground.

Unbelievable. Just another boring, clutch and grab, all defense, no offense, old NHL style game. Tis a shame really.

Waiting on the announcement of the MVP of the game. (Daniel Briere [0g 4a] was the winner of the tiny trophy and the not so tiny car).

extra pictures from the ASG

Formerly of the Expos of Major League Baseball, Youppi hopped across Montreal to don the bleu, blanc, et rouge of Les Canadiens. What a guy... er, girl... er, thing.

Fin, the British Columbian cousin of Sharkie. Smoke comes from his blowhole every now and then, which is cool, but just a tad strange.

Sparky the Dragon. Sparky makes his home on Long Island, and is the only dragon in all of Long Island, and possibly the world, who can change colors (blue and orange for Islanders games, red and yellow for New York Dragons [Arena Football League} games.

Tommy Hawk, the Blackhawks mascot, enjoying the pregame music.

Intermission, time for Tommy to make a beer run.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

1/20/07 st. louis 1, SHARKS 0

When the Sharks squeaked one out over the Red Wings at the Joe last month (goal scored with 5.6 seconds remaining), Joe Thornton was (now) famously quoted as saying "We don't do overtime". Well, Joe, thanks alot. I know this wasn't quite what you meant, but your point was proved again last night by not doing overtime against the Blues.

To their credit, the St. Louis Blues played an amazing game defensively. Despite allowing 31 shots on net, they blocked 28, and didn't allow many second chances off of rebounds. Manny Legace didn't have to stand on his head, needing only to make a couple big saves, as his defense was stifling in the slot, which is where the Sharks usually overpower their opposition and stuff in rebounds. Bill Guerin had the lone goal of the game, a wacky goal that left Guerin's stick as an innocent backhander, and found the back of the net after taking a couple bounces off of legs in front of the net.

Today (Sunday) begins the All-Star break, a period that'll last til Wednesday night, and will feature several events culminating in the 55th annual NHL All-Star Game. Tuesday is the YoungStars Game, an All-Star Game of sorts, created to showcase the up and comers in the league. Matt Carle, 2006 Hobey Baker (top collegiate hockey player) and Sharks rookie defenseman is the lone Teal representitive for this event, which is followed by the Super Skills Competition. The Super Skills is a series of events featuring players from each All-Star roster, a showcasing of individual talents, like skating speed, shot accuracy, goaltending, and puckhandling.

The Sharks resume play on Friday, when they head back to the Great White Freezing North to the city of Edmonton to take on the Oilers (6:00 pst). The Oil have won both meetings with the Sharks this year, taking a game in SJ as well as their own building in the second week of the year. Edmonton beat the Sharks 3-2 a couple weeks ago in San Jose, and overcame a 4-1 deficit with the help of a Ryan Smyth hat trick in 2:01 to beat the Sharks 6-4 in Edmonton.

Go Sharks (go rest up for the rest of the season)

Friday, January 19, 2007

1/18 SHARKS 5, phoenix 2

No powerplay goals, no CuJo, no problem. On a night where 5 goals were scored by 5 different Sharks, a change of goaltenders couldn't stop the Teal. Curtis Joseph, who has about 3 thousand career wins against the Sharks, was given the night off after having played the night before, allowing Mikael Tellqvist to get the start. Just like last game, Tellqvist was challenged early and often, facing 32 shots on the evening.

As stated above, each of the Sharks 5 goals was scored by a different player. Matt Carle scored his second goal in 3 games since returning from Worcester of the AHL, Patrick Marleau recorded his team leading 22nd, Milan Michalek stuffed home a rebound for his second goal in his last four games, Ryane Clowe redirected a Joe Thornton pass off an amazing set up for probably his easiest goal ever, and Thornton added an empty netter with 29 seconds left to seal the victory for the Sharks. Vesa Toskala continued his solid play by stopping 23 shots for his 6th consecutive victory, giving him 20 wins on the year.

The Sharks have been solid as of late, winning four straight, and 7 of their last 8 games. On this evening, the Sharks were able to exact a bit more revenge on the Coyotes, the team that could be credited with lighting the new found fire under the men in teal with the 8-0 wiping of the Sharks just three weeks ago in Phoenix.

Since the lockout, attendance has been a problem in several cities, but, despite a couple non-sellouts (read 3) early on, the Sharks faithful have come out in full force each and every time their boys put on the skates and play in the barn at 525 W Santa Clara (address of the Tank). Several times this season I've had the pleasure of sitting next to non-Sharks regulars, either fans from out of town, or just general out of towners. On this night I had the pleasure of sitting next to a few people from Wisconsin, honorary Sharks fans for the evening because of Wisconsin boy Joe Pavelski (held pointless).

The Sharks will play their final game before the All-Star Game tomorrow night when they host the St. Louis Blues (7:30 pst). The Blues are hardly having what would be considered a great year from looking at the standings, but since the firing of Mike Kitchen and the hiring of Andy Murray a month ago, the Blues are a much improved team, going 11-4-4 under Murray, winning 7 of their last 10 games, and riding a 2 game streak. The season series reads 2-0 for the Sharks, who have taken games in San Jose (5-4 OT) and St. Louis (2-0).

Go Sharks (again I must say, aawwwwwwwwoooooo)

Two pictures of Sharkie, again in my neck of the Tank. Didn't realize I had my Sharkie magnet turned on.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

1/15 SHARKS 3, colorado 1

On a night where each of the three Sharks All-Stars recorded a goal (Jonathan Cheechoo, Patrick Marleau, and Joe Thornton), the Colorado goaltender was the real star of the show. Two things were learned tonight, 1) The Sharks powerplay is incredible when they want to be, and 2) Peter Budaj is sick. Budaj, despite getting the loss, made a number of incredible highlight reel quality saves. To have faced as many as he did (42), and come out of the game having only allowed 3 goals only tells part of the story. The Sharks were again able to capitalize on the powerplay, this time going 3 for 5 with the man advantage. Joe Sakic, world renowned Shark killer had the lone goal for the Avalanche, who, to their credit, were missing two of their top defensemen in John-Michael Liles and Jordan Leopold.

Sharkie, who made the trip to Phoenix last night, made his way to "The Row" (16) in "The Section" (213), passing by my father and I to get to a birthday boy (man) sitting a few seats down. Upon reaching the top of the stairs, Sharkie did as everyone feels the need to do upon reaching the top of the stairs, pretend to fall down and pass out. After finishing, Sharkie did his classic move, and slid down the stairs on his shark behind all the way to the bottom. In addition to bringing Sharkie to the section, the birthday boy (man) brought a cowbell, a device made to do nothing but bust eardrums all throughout the arena.

As I seem to say everytime I come home, it was nice to return to the Tank. It's always nice to be part of the majority. It's always nice to see the familiar faces walking around the concourses. It's always nice to help start chants, and hear my favorite goal horn in the world, and see the players skate from the shark head. Visiting other arenas is awesome, and most of them are great places to watch some hockey, but nothing beats the Tank.

The Sharks look to extend their awesome 2007 Black Thursday win streak (currently stands at 1), against the same team they lost the last Black Thursday of '06 to, the Phoenix Coyotes (7:30 pst). The Teal beat up on the dogs last weekend at the Job in Glendale (suburb of Phoenix where the arena is) by a score of 4-1, a score they, and all Sharks fans in attendance wouldn't mind seeing replicated on Thursday (four in the net, pizza you get).

Go Sharks (You've got the power)

The rare SJ Sharkie, held in captivity in the giant cage known as the HP Pavilion. Here is Sharkie as he looks from about one foot away.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

1/13/07 sharks 4, PHOENIX 1

To quote a sign I saw in the first row of 222 last night, "Howl This". The Sharks came into the Job looking for vengance from that 8-0 pasting by the Coyotes in this building just two weeks ago, and, 60 minutes later, they got it. Lead by two goals from out-of-nowhere rookie Ryane Clowe, the Sharks played a much more solid game in Glendale this time around. Better known rookie Matt Carle, having last played for the Sharks in that 8-0 before being sent to the Worcester (MA) Sharks of the AHL, made his return to the parent club known when he got on the scoresheet with a goal off a rebound early into the third period. Jonathan Cheechoo also scored for the Sharks, who have recorded a goal on the powerplay in 6 consecutive games. Vesa Toskala made 29 saves for his 19th win of the season.

The Arena (greatest corporate arena name in the history of the world) is home to the Phoenix Coyotes, but many in attendance, and many more listening/watching at home or elsewhere may have easily been fooled by the large teal contingent present last night. I'd estimate somewhere around 500 Sharks fans found their way to the desert, and were not disappointed by the large amount of noise they were able to make last night. I was able to talk with many fans, both standing by the benches for the pregame warmup, and even in my seat (there was a family sitting in the row in front of me), and was able to find out that most of them were indeed from the Bay Area, and just down for the game. Among others, a group of HP Pavilion suite holders had a few suites in the Job, and a group of suite attendants sat in normal seats for this game, the first Sharks road game for many of those in the building.

I have now been to Phoenix (Glendale) three times, and I must say, two things are constant. 1) The building is still beautiful, one of my favorite, if not my favorite building to visit so far, and 2) I still hate that freaking howl. The goal horn (which I only had to hear once this time) is a loud one, one you definitely don't want to hear as an opposing fan sitting in the stands, but that howl makes me cringe each and every time it's played. Sounded once before the game, once for every powerplay, twice after every goal, and every time somebody wants to be cool and decides to just "aaawwwooo" for fun, the howl has become one of those chants that you can only appreciate if you are a fan, otherwise it is the second most annoying chant in sports history (#1, see: the Tomahawk Chop).

The Sharks return home from this brief-but-still perfect road trip on MLK day to take on the Colorado Avalanche (7:00 pst). The teams have split two games this year, the Sharks winning the game in Denver, and the Avalanche winning the previous game in the Tank in December, 5-2.

Go Sharks (aaawwwoooo)

Outside of the Job.

Friday, January 12, 2007

1/11/07 sharks 5, LOS ANGELES 2

I love L.A,* and the Sharks do too. The Sharks made their final visit to the Staples Center this year, and left in great fashion, coming away with an important victory just a night removed from a heartbreaker at home. The Teal improved to 6-1 on the year in the second game of a back-to-back, overcoming any possible fatigue to skate past their northern most rivals from Southern California. Patrick Marleau used this final trip to L.A. to become the Sharks all time goal scoring leader, notching the 207th of his career. Doug Murray also recorded the first goal of his NHL career, but had it taken away when it was credited to Ryane Clowe. Mark Bell got off the schneid, Milan Michalek scored on the powerplay, and Patrick Rissmiller stuffed one into the empty net to seal the victory for the Sharks. Vesa Toskala was undertested two games in a row, making just 22 saves for his 18th victory this year.

Making the final trip to Los Angeles for hockey this year had it's pros and cons. For instance, it was a sad goodbye because it was nice to sit in the same seat for all four games, as I happened to sit near four season ticket holders, who were very nice people, and fun to talk to. It was also cool because I happened to be near Jim, a fellow Shark fan and STH in San Jose, who had seats just a section away from me. And last of all, it was nice to be in L.A. for hockey because of it's large contingent of visiting Sharks fans, due to it's relative proximity to San Jose, among other reasons.

However, it was nice to visit Staples for the final time, because, although it is a nice building, Kings fans like to talk trash, and, although they are just words, it can get more annoying than it is amusing (and sometimes it can get really amusing, like the "gangstas" who drove past me, threatening to come back and "mow me down" if I didn't take off my Sharks jersey. The major amusement, at least for me, comes from the fact that they were riding around in a "gangstamobile", also known as a white Toyota Prius.)

The Sharks move on from Los Angeles to the low deserts of Glendale, Arizona, where they will find the Jobing.Com Arena and the Phoenix Coyotes (6:00 pst). Site of the 8-0 drubbing just two weeks ago, you know that game will be on the minds of the Sharks, the Coyotes, the visiting Sharks fans in attendance, and the few hundred Coyotes fans in attendance as well (I kid, there'll be about 3,000 of 'em. [Kidding again, it's just nice to spread some of the attendance smack talk the Sharks fans got a few years ago when we couldn't fill our building every night.]) Tonight will be a success if two things happen, 1) The Sharks come out thinking they are the better team and play like it, and 2) The only chalupa I eat tomorrow will cost me $1.49.

Go Sharks (WE LOVE IT!!**)

*= Randy Newman reference
**= another Randy Newman reference

Outside of the purple Staples Center, aptly colored (finally).

Thursday, January 11, 2007

1/10/07 edmonton 3, SHARKS 2

You know you're not doing a very good job when you have 17,496 people referring to you and your profession as feces from a male cow. Brad Watson and Don Koharski learned this first hand last night as they made several calls to upset the home fans, setting off a two minute chant of the previously mentioned substance. The Sharks brought a pretty spirited effort, spraying goalie Dwayne Roloson with 34 shots, but it wasn't enough for the Teal, who lost their first game of the new year. Evgeni Nabokov allowed 3 goals in the first period for the third consecutive time, but rather than the other two, he was left in to dig himself out of the hole that he had created. Marcel Goc and Western Conference All-Star Jonathan Cheechoo each had a goal.

Speaking of All-Stars, the results were just released, and both Cheechoo and Joe Thornton were voted as starters for the Western Conference along with Joe Sakic (Colorado Avalanche), Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit Red Wings) and Scott Niedermayer (Anaheim Ducks). Roberto Luongo (Vancouver Canucks) will be starting in net. In the East, Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) lead the way, with Daniel Briere (Buffalo Sabres) skating alongside, and Sheldon Souray (Montreal Canadiens) and Brian Campbell (Buffalo Sabres) on the blueline. Fellow Sabre Ryan Miller will be manning the pipes. The All-Star reserves will be announced later this week.

The Sharks will finish their 7th back-to-back set tonight when they take on the Los Angeles Kings (7:30 pst). As a traveler, it will be my final Sharks game at the larger than necessary Staples Center, sitting in the same seat that I've had the pleasure of warming each of the past 3 contests. Staples has been nice to the Sharks this year, as they come in having won two of the three games played between these two teams in these friendly confines.


Sunday, January 07, 2007

1/6/07 SHARKS 5, columbus 2

There were only 7 goals scored tonight, but it was a bad night to be on the Penalty Kill unit for either the Blue Jackets or Sharks. Neither squad was dominant as the Sharks PK was only 4-6 and the Jackets Kill was just 5-10. Ryane Clowe capitalized three times, recording his first career hat trick. Christian Ehrhoff and Patrick Marleau also tallied for the Sharks, who improved to 2-0 at home in 2007. Marleau's goal, the 206th of his career, ties him with Owen Nolan for first on the Sharks all-time goal scoring list. Vesa Toskala however, only had to make 17 saves for his 17th win of the year. With the 5 Power Play goals last night, the Sharks now are 13-23 in their last 3 games.

Saturday's game marked the first game of the second half of the year, good ole game number 42. Just past the halfway point, the Sharks rank pretty high in many categories including: 3.09 goals per game (7th in the NHL, 4th in the Western Conference), 2.38 goals allowed per game (5th NHL, 4th West), 25.6% on the power play (1st NHL), and 84.2% on the penalty kill (11th NHL, 7th West). Longtime Sharks fans will also be proud of the 51.5% of faceoffs won (8th NHL, 5th West), as that has long been a weak spot for the boys in teal.

For the first time all year, Section 213 finally has something to be proud of, as the secret seat was found in good ole two one three, but it wasn't given quite high enough (stupid row 7). Danny Miller (the promotion guy) filled in last night for the normal PA guy, Joe Ike, who was out with a undisclosed lower body injury (hockey joke).

I usually pride myself on knowing the little quirks and minutia that has to do with team names and logos and uniforms, but the Columbus jerseys continue to stump me. On both the white and blue jerseys, there are faint grey stripes woven into the main torso fabric. I am aware that the team pays tribute to the Civil War soldiers that came from the Buckeye State, and who wore, blue jackets (how bout that?). But I am unsure as to the purpose for the grey stripes on the jersey, and would greatly appreciate any insight as to the reasoning for the grey stripes of tribute.

The Sharks conclude the first homestand of 2007 on Wednesday when they will take on the Edmonton Oilers (7:30 pst). The Oil make their first visit to the Tank since they beat the Sharks in the Western Conference Semis last spring. These two met in Edmo in October, with Ryan Smyth recording the fastest hat trick in Oiler history (2:01) in the early minutes of the third period, leading the Oil to a 6-4 victory, despite a Jonathan Cheechoo natural (three consecutive goals) hat trick earlier in the contest.

Go Sharks (go powerplay)

Friday, January 05, 2007

1/4/07 SHARKS 9, detroit 4

First off, happy new year everybody. Hope your new year (and subsequent party) were as rollicking a time as I had. I ended up going to my hotel after the Hooters right next to American Airlines closed at 11. That's right, Hooters, a place that combines beer, hot wings, and scantily clad women into a great party atmosphere closes at 11 on the party night of all party nights of the year. At the hotel bar, I was able to hang out and drink with a large contingent of Cornhusker fans (University of Nebraska) who were in town for the Cotton Bowl, which was the next day, against Auburn (Alabama). Auburn ended up winning the game 17-14, but the Husker faithful had plenty to drink waaaay before the game ever took place.

On to the game, have I mentioned how much I love the stupid ... er stupendous all-black alternate jerseys? The Sharks welcomed in the new year by wearing these monstrosities ... I mean beauties by showing that heart stuff again. Just like the way they responded in Dallas after being polished by the 'Yotes the night before, the Sharks showed some fight after dropping 3 goals early to the Red Wings. With tons of Detroit fans in the Tank, and a 3-0 deficit just 12 minutes into the game, things weren't looking terribly great for anyone wearing teal at the Tank. But the players, showing that heart stuff again, decided to make things a bit different. By getting on the board 3 minutes later, and then putting up a 4 spot in both the second and third periods, shutting up, and sending home, many of the wearers of the winged wheel before the final whistle. I did feel a bit sorry for the Wings fans, as I knew how they were feeling, but after having sat through an 8-0 pounding by Phoenix in Phoenix last week, my sympathy tank wasn't exactly 100% full. Good for them for making the trip, but don't expect any nicey-nice from me or any other Shark fan in the Tank during a game.

The powerplay was excellent, going 6-9 with the man-advantage, setting a franchise record previously set at 5, a number reached each of the past two home games against these same Wings. Ryane Clowe had a pair of goals in his first game back from the IR, Mike Grier added a pair as well, Defenseman Josh Gorges notched his first career goal, Joe Thornton had 4 assists, and Captain Patrick Marleau tallied a goal and 3 assists of his own, passing Owen Nolan for most points all-time as a Shark, and stands one goal short of tying Nolan for that record. Jonathan Cheechoo, Joe Pavelski, and Christian Ehrhoff also scored for the Sharks, recording nine straight goals for the first time in their history. For the second consecutive start, Evgeni Nabokov allowed 3 goals early, and was pulled for Vesa Toskala, who came in and played pretty solidly, earning his 16th win of the year.

The Sharks have now improved to 3-5 on Black Thursday, and have won the season series with the Detroit Red Wings for the first time in their existence 3 games to 1. Tomorrow sees a Saturday night affair with the Columbus Blue Jackets (7:30 pst). The last matchup between these clubs saw the Sharks roll to a 3-0 victory over the Blue Jackets in Columbus, however, under the guidance of new Head Coach Ken Hitchcock, the Jackets are a rougher, stronger club. Facing little adversity, it'll be interesting to see how the Teal respond.

Go Sharks (go home Red Wings )

Monday, January 01, 2007

12/31 sharks 4, DALLAS 2

Well, maybe they should lose 8-0 more often. Or maybe they should just pretend that they lost 8-0 every game, every period even. A strong first period of forechecking, pressure, and crashing the net amounted to 3 goals (of the garbage variety) in the first 9:05 of the game, chasing notorious Shark killer Marty Turco from the game. Coming into the contest, Turco had shut out the Sharks in consecutive games, but "Other Joe" Pavelski put an end to Turco's streak with a goal just 1:25 into the first, ending Turco's streak at 143:45. Rookie goalie Mike Smith fared much better, despite giving up a goal on the first shot he faced when Joe Thornton slipped one right between the pillows to make it a 4-1 game. The score remained at 4-1 until midway through the third when the Stars got one back, but that went on to be the final score of the evening.

Except for the date, the New Years Eve game didn't really have anything special connected to it. It's the ninth consecutive time the NYE game has been played in Dallas, and as mentioned in my last post, the Stars historically had performed pretty well on the final day of the calendar year. Last night's loss was only the second for the Stars, who are now 6-2-2.

After a ridiculous loss to the Coyotes two nights ago, it was expected that the Sharks were gonna come out hard, and it was a huge relief to see that they did. They did cool off a bit in the second and third, but stayed strong defensively to pick up the win.

In attendance tonight were the Sharks fathers and other family members. I had the pleasure of passing by the fathers on the concourse after the game. I didn't have the pleasure of talking to them, but I did get to see them, so that's something. Also in attendance were a large number of Sharks fans. One group in particular I stayed a few minutes late to talk to. Flying down for the game, it was nice to see some teal on the road, especially when it's worn by Bay Area-ers who made the trip. I met a few of them, and due to my brain not being great at remembering names, I don't recall their names, except for Donna, and the two women who listen to me on KFOG. (To the fogheads, I apologize for not remembering your names, that just means that I'll have to talk with you guys some more at future games.)

The Sharks get a few days to celebrate the new year, as they are off until Thursday (crap) when the Detroit Red Wings come in for the final matchup of the year between the two teams (7:30 pst). The Sharks hold a 2-1 season series lead over the Wings, who are currently one point ahead of Team Teal in the standings.

Go Sharks (Happy 2007)

They're havin some All-Star game, at the home of the Stars. Cute.

That big burrito will look real nice on a plate next to my big chalupa.