Wednesday, October 31, 2007

10/29/07 sharks 4, DALLAS 2

Devin Setoguchi, meet the NHL. NHL, meet Devin Setoguchi.

The rookie winger from BC made his long awaited debut for the Sharks Monday with two bang-em-home markers off the stick of Joe Thornton to lead the Teal to victory over the Stars in Dallas. Steve Bernier and Joe Pavelski had the other two goals for the Sharks, playing their first of twelve consecutive games against Pacific Division foes. Evgeni Nabokov made his 12th start in 12 games this year, stopping 27 shots for the win.

Monday's game was the Sharks 12th of the year, and their final game in the month of October. Through the 12 games, the Sharks are 6-5-1, with 29 goals scored, and 29 goals allowed. The schedule has had them on the road for much of the month, allowing them just 3 games at the Tank. While they are 1-2 at home, they are a strong 5-3-1 on the road, something that could bode well for the rest of the year.

There is a lot of hockey yet to be played, 70 regular season games worth, that is. Whether that hockey will be worth watching or not has yet to be determined. At times this year, the Sharks have looked unflappable, playing real strong hockey, forechecking, backchecking, bodychecking, playing rough in front of both nets, scoring, blocking shots, and most importantly, winning. Unfortunately, at times, the Sharks have looked quite flappy, doing everything that I just said, except very poorly, and resulting in humiliating, peewee hockey-like losses. Consistency has always been an issue with these guys, and this year is no different thus far.

The Sharks have a chance to add towards being consistent when they return home for their first Intra-California matchup of the year, when they start the first end of a home-and-home with the Los Angeles Kings (7:30). The Kings are a much stronger team than last year, with several new players to this year's squad. Lead by Mike Cammalleri and Anze Kopitar, the Kings are no longer a pushover. Hopefully the boys realize this, and can get the job done.


Monday, October 29, 2007

10/26 DETROIT 5, sharks 1 and 10/27 COLUMBUS 2, sharks 1

I took the weekend off from the Odyssey as Saturday was my sister's Bat-Mitzvah. Looks like the Sharks did too. 2 games, 120 minutes, 28 shots for, 2 goals for, 57 shots against, 7 goals against. Great weekend boys.

The highlights of the weekend in Sharks hockey were none other than Alexei Semenov recording his first Sharks goal in his first Sharks game, Ryane Clowe delivering a punishing body check... on Mike Grier, Dmitri Patzold stopping 8 of 9 shots in Motown, and Joe Thornton got another one. That's about it.

Clowe and Rob Davison have found themselves on the IR, meaning two spaces left open to a couple of the kids from Worcester (Woostah). Look for Lukas Kaspar #43 and Devin Setoguchi #16 to be in the lineup tonight and probably for the next couple games as well.

As we slowly dive deeper into the season, it's getting a whole lot easier to scream about the falling sky and push that ever growing panic button, but yet, as fans, what we say doesn't count towards what will actually happen, usually. Ron Wilson is still behind the bench, and Doug Wilson remains silent in any sort of player acquisitions. There are 82 games in this season, just like every season, and apparently the slow downward spiral this season has taken through 11 games thusfar is not enough to convince anyone that change is necessary. Maybe it isn't, and the front office knows something that we all don't, or maybe there is a problem in that locker room, and we'll either see something change, or the stronger motion of the aforementioned downward spiral. Every game seems to end with the words, "We gotta start playing like we care, if one of isn't working hard, then the team isn't. We need to change that for next game".

Well, the next game is tonight, the last game of the road trip, and the final Sharks contest in the month of October. Tonight the Teal are in Big D for a contest for 1st place with the division leading Dallas Stars (5:00). Longtime Star Mike Modano is just 2 points from tying Phil Housley for most points all time. With any luck, he won't do it tonight. However, it's the Sharks, so he probably will. Tis the great life of an optimistic fan, eh?


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

10/22/07 sharks 4, CALGARY 1

For the next 6 years, Sharks fans can think, "we have him signed for how much?". Among other players, they'll probably be talking about Milan Michalek, proud owner of a 6 year deal worth about 4 million per year. With his two goals last night against the Flames for a team leading 6, Michalek seems to be starting a year that would seem to say he's a bit underpaid, however early it may be. Michalek struck both even strength and recorded the Sharks first short-handed goal of the year, leading the Teal to a 4-1 win at the Saddledome. Ryane Clowe and Steve Bernier added the other two markers, while JR added a couple helpers. Evgeni Nabokov stood tall in net, allowing just one past, stopping the other 18 for the win.

Intensity and consistency have been two major problems for the team in this young year, but you wouldn't have guessed either were plaguing the team from watching Monday's contest. There were plenty of hits, a couple fights, and countless post-whistle gatherings, something the Sharks have been doing plenty of so far, in an attempt to show their comradery for their teammates.

With a win in the books on the roadtrip opener, the Sharks get three days to relax in the wintery resort area of Banff for some team bonding before they head to Detroit to face off with the Wings (4:30 pm). Detroit won the opening matchup between the clubs with a 4-2 victory over the Sharks last Thursday in SJ. The Joe has never been kind to the Sharks, seeing only a couple victories by the boys from SJ in the 17 years the Sharks have visited Motown. With the couple day layoff, the Sharks should be quite rested to play, whether they choose to play, is another matter.

GO SHARKS (60 minutes of hockey again)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

10/20/07 SHARKS 3, nashville 0

Welcome to last year. Sharks struggle to play a full 60 minute game, have trouble scoring even strength goals, can't beat Detroit, and beat up on Nashville. 06/07 all over again.

After a lackluster and scoreless first 20, the Sharks looked pretty decent in the second and third frames, tallying 3 goals (one 5-on-3, one even strength, and one empty netter), and controlling most of the play. Nabby looked solid in net, stopping all 22 shots faced, earning his 35th career shutout. JR scored the difference maker, a PP goal in the second period. The goal, the 498th tally of his career, was scored on a beautiful one time pass from Thornton on the PP.

The Teal now head on the road for the next four games, Monday in Calgary, Friday in Detroit, Saturday in Columbus, and the following Monday in Dallas, before returning home next Friday, November 2nd, to face the Kings. That game in Dallas begins the first of 12 consecutive games against teams from the Pacific Division, their first 12 Pacific Division matchups of the year.

First up on the road comes a visit to the Saddledome and a meeting with Jarome Iginla and the Flames (6:00). New Flame Owen Nolan will be suiting up in his 1000th career NHL contest, and will be skating alongside former Shark Mark Smith and Miikka Kiprusoff.

GO SHARKS (2 more to go JR)

I'm the guy who's keeping the JR sign that you might have seen on the broadcast or at the game last night. I have poor penmanship, and that's precisely why I love my computer.

A sign that, when not looking at the picture taken by a really old camera, says "60 minutes". They played about 40. Not bad for starters.

My sign on the jumbotron, or at least most of it. Yes, my 8 looks like vertical handcuffs, I know.

Friday, October 19, 2007

10/18/07 detroit 4, SHARKS 2

Happy birthday to me. Hooray.

About 30 minutes of great hockey. Strong passing, strong defensive plays, using the body just as they should. Unfortunately, it was coupled with 30 minutes of lackluster hockey that we've unfortunately seen way too often, this year, last year, and the year before. Poor passing, lack of a breakout pass, and allowing themselves to not even challenge in the corners.

Matt Carle did have a beautiful shot tipped by Jonathan Cheechoo for a goal, and Mike Grier was actually able to capitalize upon one of his great scoring chances, but Nabby struggled with a couple of difficult shots, and the PK couldn't hold off a surging Red Wing PP, and well, 4-2 happened.

It is early in the year still, and things can still turn for the better. This team on ice is extremely talented, probably talented enough to challenge for the Cup, but the mental aspect just isn't there. The desire, the hunger, the relentlessness, it's just currently lacking. Whether that's something that needs to come from the coaching staff or from the guys with the C or A's on their chest, I'm not sure. Hell, I'm sure there are some rookies that could add some strong words, something is missing, and someone needs to bring it to the table for this team to succeed into the early summertime.

Stuff gets a shot to turn for the better tomorrow (Saturday) night when the new look (jerseywise [ugly] and rosterwise [jury still out]) Nashville Predators visit the Tank (7:30). Nashville stumbles into the building a much different team than the 06/07 edition, lacking names like Kariya, Forsberg, Hartnell, and Vokoun. Losers of their last four contests, Nashville should be a determined team. Hopefully, so are the Sharks.

GO SHARKS (win at home. ready go.)

* This is the last home game in the month of October for the Sharks, they hit the road for a four game trip (@ CGY, DET, CBJ, and DAL) before returning home again on November 2nd
* Through the first seven games, the Sharks have alternated results: L (@ Edmonton) W (@ Vancouver) L (@ Colorado) W (@ Chicago) L (vs Boston) W (@ Vancouver) L (vs Detroit).
* Jeremy Roenick still sits 3 goals from 500, and is not expected to play tomorrow, also not expected in the lineup is Douglas Murray, who was cut in the throat with a skate blade in practice Friday
* Alexei Semenov has been lifted from IR, status unknown for tomorrow's game
* Former Shark Sandis Ozolinsh has been cleared by the NHL to be signed to a contract, and has signed a PTO with the Worcester Sharks of the AHL.
* The power didn't go out last night, and the scoreboard/led fascia display was awesome. Still lost though.
* Former Shark Mike Ricci was welcomed back to the Tank last night by a standing o. Reech is back with the team in an assistant to the team role and dropped the puck last night, mullet in full flowing glory.

The aforementioned Reech and his aforementioned mulleted glory.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

10/15/07 sharks 4, VANCOUVER 2

Another late one, I'll be right on time with the Detroit game tomorrow, I promise.

Two games in Vancouver, two wins. Very easy, very simple.

After a disappointment at home on Saturday, the Sharks were sure to bury their chances on Monday, getting three goals in the third in just over 3 minutes. Jonathan Cheechoo finally found the scoresheet again, scoring a goal that only Cheech could score. Joe lit the lamp again, recording his 3rd goal of the year, and added two assists. Evgeni Nabokov made a couple crazy saves to keep the Teal in it, on a night when they wore teal instead of white.

The Sharks are back home on Thursday, for a 7:30 showdown with Motown. As we all know, the last time the Wings were in San Jose, bad stuff happened, so we won't go there. But you know what happened, and the players sure know what happened. We saw a bit of increased anger and toughness on Monday on behalf of the Sharks, hopefully their mean streak and winning streak will continue. The pregame ceremonies that didn't happen on Saturday will take place on Thursday, provided there isn't another blackout.

Thursday is also my birthday, so that would be another nice reason to win, as if any are really needed.

GO SHARKS (no power outage and a win please)

Monday, October 15, 2007

10/13/07 boston 2, SHARKS 1

The home opener, a game 5 months in the making. All the hoopla surrounding the team, the introductions, the special pregame ceremonies, and just the general excitement over the return of hockey. A great time of the year, and a great game on the schedule. Until a transformer blows. Then the lights go out, the audio goes out, and the scoreboards go out. Then it's pitch black, fully quiet, and the slightest bit creepy.

Well, that was the home opener for the Sharks this year. Last year's game was weird in it's own right, featuring a 20 minute delay when Jonathan Cheechoo's skate went through the boards and an official was helped off the ice after catching a puck to the face, but Saturday's game was weird too. Several Sharks shots found the iron, and a few clearing attempts, including the attempt that lead to the game winning goal, were blocked by ill-positioned officials. Throw in the blackout and subsequent delay, the aforementioned fluky bounces, and a recorded goal horn that was sounded for really no apparent reason, and it was a funky night.

A poorly called and allowed goal by Patrice Bergeron was the only tally for most of the game. Former Shark Marco Sturm, making his first return to SJ, fell on a scrambling Evgeni Nabokov, and then hand passed the puck to Bergeron who put it in an open net. That was the only goal until the Sharks finally broke through in the final minute of the game, when Milan Michalek whacked the puck past lucky/good netminder Tim Thomas. Not 30 seconds later, however, Aaron Ward put the game winner behind Nabby on a play that should have seen the puck exit the zone. Instead, it bounced off referee Brad Watson, and onto the stick of a Bruin, who put it to Ward for the goal.

Just as quickly as they were home, they're gone again, making their final appearance in British Columbia, facing the Canucks again at the Garage (7:00 pm). Just over a week ago, the Sharks were in Vancouver, and had a stellar first period, including two goals from Jeremy Roenick, leaving him just 3 from 500. Roenick should be back in the lineup tonight after sitting out an injury sustained in Chicago last week. Mitchell-Thornton-Clowe is now the top line, for at least one shift. For whatever reason, the Sharks will be in teal tonight, and the Canucks will wear the home colors in San Jose on January 10th.

GO SHARKS (Don't black out again)

Friday, October 12, 2007

10/10/07 sharks 2, BLACKHAWKS 1

Forgot about this one with stuff goin on, so just a quick recap here.

Milan Michalek had 2 PP goals for the Sharks, Canadian phenom rookie Jonathan Toews (pronounced TAYvs) had his first career goal on his first career shot, and the Sharks ended the season opening 4 game roadie with 5 out of 8 possible points with the 2-1 defeat over the much improved Blackhawks Wednesday night.

Sharks return home to open the Tank Saturday night when the Boston Bruins come to town (7:30). Tomorrow will mark the return of ex-Shark Marco Sturm, playing his first game in SJ since being traded to Boston for some guy (John Thornhill or somethin) in November of 2005.

GO SHARKS (welcome back Marco, albeit briefly)

Monday, October 08, 2007

10/7/07 COLORADO 6, sharks ?

Remember that Coyote Ugly game last year (8-0 by the Yotes)? No, well I do, and it sucked. And guess what, yesterday, in Denver, it happened. Again.

Yeah, you can say it was only the third game of the year, so it's nothing to get worried about. Yeah, you can say it's just one game so it's nothing to worry about. You could also say it's just a game against a good team and games like this happen. You might even be spot on with all those things. But, the curmudgeon in me wants to say the following:


Ok, so maybe that is the 11 year old, l33t (leet, for you n00bs, is the internet language made from crazy letters and shortened words) speaking curmudgeon in me, but it is still the pessimist in me.

With all my heart, I truly want to see Ron Wilson fired, a new captain named, and this team taken in a different direction mentally. However, I'm afraid that's not gonna happen, at least yet. It is just heartbreaking and totally disappointing to see the Sharks have such difficulty getting mentally ready time and time again for a game. No, it doesn't matter in Game 3 of the regular season, but as has been said millions of times, how you practice is how you'll play. If you allow yourself (as a player), your teammates (also as a player) or your players (as a coach) to show up continually mentally unprepared in the regular season, then they will be mentally unprepared in the playoffs, when it counts.

As for the game, Ryane Clowe had both Sharks goals, and several Avalanche scored the goals. I don't remember their names, which means the heavy postgame boozing worked well. Paul Stastny did have 5 points, which is great, and he is great. A real great young talent in this league that is overshadowed by the Crosbys and Ovechkins and Malkins, but is great in his own right. Keep an eye out for him. Nabby gave up all 6, Dmitri Patzold got some garbage time, and was half decent, making 2 saves in 12 minutes of play, and getting the break of a disallowed goal.

Last time the Sharks did this, last year against the Yotes, they stormed into Dallas the next night, and beat up on Marty Turco for 4 first period goals. Wednesday, the Sharks will have the opportunity to storm into Chicago and beat up Nikolai Khabibulin and the Blackhawks (5:30 PDT). The final game of the roadie, we'll see if the Sharks got some good rest, and can finish this opening trip on a high note before coming home to open the Tank on Saturday.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

10/5/07 sharks 3, VANCOUVER 1

Jeremy Roenick made the headlines the last time his team played in Vancouver, however, it wasn't for his on-ice achievements. Last year, JR, then a member of the Phoenix Coyotes, was announced as a late scratch by Head Coach Wayne Gretzky. Roenick, disappointed at the announcement, stormed out of the locker room and GM Place altogether. Rather than watching the game from the press box, JR caught the game from a nearby steakhouse, enjoying some of Vancouver's finest beef (probably trucked in from Alberta).

Last night, JR once again made the headlines, however, there was no steak involved. After a disappointing finish in Edmonton, the Teal came out on fire last night, putting 3 goals on the always frustrating to face Roberto Luongo. After a wrister from Joe Thornton that trickled through the pads of Luongo, Roenick stole the spotlight. JR potted career goal 496 midway through the first when he whacked a Torrey Mitchell pass straight into the back of the net, and tipped in a Douglas Murray slapshot 4 minutes later to give the Sharks a 3-0 lead, something they would not relinquish.

Too much last season we heard about the Sharks lacking that "killer instinct", "not keeping their foot on the pedal", and "taking their foot off the snake to let it bite them". Basically, too much coasting with leads, and allowing their opponents to get back into the game when it looked like they were out of it. Last night saw the Sharks jump out to a 3-0 lead, and rather than sit back and coast, they kept at it offensively, peppering Luongo with 18 shots in the final 40 minutes of play. Yes, the Canucks had chances, including a couple missed open nets, but they didn't go in so for now, there isn't much need to dwell on them. Fact is, the Sharks had a lead for almost the entire game, and didn't blow it, nor did they look to be blowing it, and that is good news for Teal fans.

Game 3 of the opening roadie comes Sunday afternoon in Denver against the Avalanche (4:00 p.m. PDT). A very familiar mullet will be on the ice tomorrow, wearing #22 in blue and maroon. Free agent acquisition Scott Hannan should be in the line-up for the Avalanche, who look to rebound from their first absence from the playoffs since moving to Denver in 1995. Another mulleted face new to the Avalanche comes wearing #94. Former Oiler Ryan Smyth adds to an already scary Colorado offense lead by the immortal Super Joe Sakic.

GO SHARKS (2 in a row would be nice)

Friday, October 05, 2007

10/4/07 EDMONTON 3, sharks 2 SO

A year ago, after Joe Pavelski picked up the game winning goal over the Wings with just 5.6 seconds remaining at Joe Louis Arena, Joe Thornton proudly exclaimed "We don't do overtime". With just 10.6 seconds remaining last night in the Sharks season opener in Edmonton, Big Joe showed that last season was last season. A fluttering wrister by the big guy found it's way past the glove of Oilers goaltender Dwayne Roloson with just a few seconds remaining, giving the Sharks a point in a game they probably shouldn't have gotten that much from.

Thornton capped an active 3rd period that saw four goals scored. After two periods of tight, scoreless hockey, the 3rd really opened with a bang. Captain Patrick Marleau whacked in a one-time pass from Thornton just 26 seconds in. That lead, however, would not last as 71 seconds later, Oiler kiddie Sam Gagner threw a pass to fellow kiddie Andrew Cogliano who threw it into the crease where it found the angled skate of yet another Oiler kiddie (yes, they have a lot of them) Tom Gilbert, who directed it past Evgeni Nabokov, tying the score at 1. Just 74 seconds after that, Kyle Brodziak followed a Sheldon Souray shot to the net, poking in the rebound, giving the Oil a 2-1 lead.

OT not solving anything, the two clubs went to the shootout. Robert Nilsson potted his attempt in the second round, which was matched by Joe Pavelski directly afterwards. A great/lucky toe save by Nabokov on Marty Reasoner kept the Sharks in it, only to lose it the following round when Marleau's miss was coupled by a Jarret Stoll wrister that tipped off Nabokov's glove and into the back of the net.

Last year, there was talk that the Sharks were soft. That you could just take shots at the big name guys, and face no reprecussions. Last night, in the second period, everyone's favorite cheapshot artist, Raffi "I'm cool now because I'm bleach blond" Torres, took what attempted to be a running (well, skating) knee at Sharks speedy rookie Torrey Mitchell. Mitchell was able to avoid most of the knee, but Torres was not able to avoid the oncoming juggernaut that was Douglas Murray. See, last year, you may not have seen someone sticking up for a teammate, let alone a rookie. Hopefully last night sent a message that you won't be able to do that stuff to the Sharks and get away with it.

In no truer sense of the cliché, tomorrow is another day. Well, today is another day, and with today brings another game. Tonight, for the second year in a row, the San Jose Sharks will open GM Place with a 7:00 pm tilt with the Vancouver Luongos, er, Canucks. With Luongo in net, the Canucks will be tough, however, their offense still has question marks. Young guy Mason Raymond will line up with the Swedish Twins, a move many Canuck fans like, which can't be good news for opposing fans.

Jeremy Roenick will probably be scratched tonight for the debut of Sharks young guy Devin Setoguchi, who, if he plays, will join Milan Michalek and Torrey Mitchell for what is thought to be the fastest line in Sharks history. Hopefully we get to see it tonight, at 7.

Who needs playoff baseball? October is hockey season.

GO SHARKS (well, I like playoff baseball, but I like hockey more)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

9/29 SHARKS 2, calgary 1

As this game was a few days ago, and I was delayed in posting this update, I'll make it brief.

Sharks ended their preseason on Saturday with a 2-1 win over the Flames, finishing the preseason with a record of 5-0-2. Ryane Clowe and Patrick Marleau had the Sharks goals, while Craig Conroy tallied the only marker for the Flames. Evgeni Nabokov made his third start of the preseason, and made 21 saves for the win. Youngster Curtis McElhinney stopped 23 saves in the losing effort.

Last year, the Sharks played many games in which they would jump out to a lead, only to coast and subsequently see their lead vanish late. Sometimes they were able to recover and win anyway, but seemingly more often than not, they would see their 40 minutes of hard work turn into a 60 minute loss, as they would be heavily outworked in the third period.

Unfortunately, Saturday's game was one of those coast jobs. However, as it was the preseason, and the lineup was not entirely what it will be for opening night (Thursday), the effort cannot fully be judged. Unfortunately, as someone who reads way too much into stuff, it's definitely something that's a tad bothersome.

Despite the NHL opening in London, England over the weekend, tomorrow will really be regarded as the start of the NHL season, with four matchups on the schedule. Sharks fans have to wait but just one extra day, as the Teal begin their quest towards that ever elusive silver on Thursday night in not quite yet frozen Edmonton, Alberta.

Unlike last year, I will not be following the team to every contest, going through all the joys that is traveling from city to city, hotel to hotel, arena to arena. No, this year is back to the less insanely fortunate grind of gathering on the couch or at the bar, and watching the game on tv. It will definitely take some getting used to, but when I'm not trapsing through the Northeast in February, I'm sure I won't mind too much.