Sunday, December 30, 2007

12/29/07 sharks 5, NASHVILLE 2

At this rate, I hope they never come home.

Last night was yet another win for the Sharks on the road, their 15th win away from San Jose this season, and their 9th consecutive victory not at the Tank. The blueline struck big last night, with both Craig Rivet and Matt Carle picking up goals. Steve Bernier, Marcel Goc, and Torrey Mitchell each added tallies, with Bernier, Milan Michalek, and Joe Thornton notching two assists a piece. Evgeni "The Pride of Kamenogorsk" Nabokov made start #38 on the year (in 38 Sharks games), turning 19 of 21 shots aside, earning himself win number 21 on the season.

As was mentioned above, last night's victory was road win #15. By contrast, the Sharks have played 18 home games. Of course, the devastating part of that stat is that of those 18 games, only 6 have been W's. Again, the Teal have played 20 road games, 15 of which are wins. They talk about home ice advantage, well, obviously, the Sharks aren't "they", nor have "they" ever met the Sharks.

The Teal complete the Midwest tour tomorrow evening, as they send off 2007 in style, as they visit St. Paul and the Wild (4:00). Monday's game will be the 3rd game in 4 nights for the Sharks, who will get three days off after tomorrow. The Wild sit in 2nd place in the Northwest (22-14-2), two points behind the division leading Vancouver Canucks. San Jose leads the season series 1-0, when they beat the Wild 4-1 at the Tank on 12/11.

Happy New Year to you and yours, may it be safe, fun, and full of a Sharks victory. See you in '08.

GO SHARKS (Happy '08)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

12/28/07 sharks 1, ST. LOUIS 0

It only takes one goal to win a hockey game. Which is good, because that's all the Sharks were able to scratch out last night.

A Milan Michalek 3rd Period slapper found its way past netminder Manny Legace for the lone tally in a game that seemed to less resemble a hockey game and more look like that of a chess match. Both sides are towards the top of the league when it comes to goals allowed. Each team had played 29 games in which they allowed fewer than three goals, with the Sharks having played 36, and the Blues 34. Evgeni "Iron Horse" Nabokov earned career shutout #39, and win #20 on the season, stopping all 26 shots he faced, many of which were in spectacular, beer spitting out inducing greatness.

The win gives the Sharks 14 road wins, 8 of which have come consecutively. It remains that the Sharks have just 6 home wins. 6 home victories in 18 home games, while they've won 14 of 19 on the road. Why this is, I don't know. But as long as they're winning somewhere, I'll take it, albeit begrudgingly.

The Sharks go for consecutive road win #9 tonight on the back end of the back-to-back when they head to the Music City to take on the Nashville Predators (5:00). Nashville is not the same club they were last year, minus several key players, but they're still afloat, thanks to youngsters scattered throughout the lineup. Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for us, two of the better Predators youngsters on the blueline, Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, will be out tonight, bettering the Sharks chances, at least on paper. Now, unfortunately, games aren't won on paper, but at least from an SJ point of view, they are won on the road.

GO SHARKS (#9 plz)

Friday, December 28, 2007

12/26/07 sharks 3, LOS ANGELES

Confucious say,"When on long losing streak, find team with longer losing streak to beat up on". Fushy ole buddy, how right you are.

The Sharks, proud owners of a 3 game losing streak, waltzed into Staples Center last night to take on a Kings club that was losers in it's last 7, and waltzed out of Staples Center proud owners of a 1 game winning streak (if you can call it that, which I sure as hell can). Milan Michalek (aka "Not Joe Thornton") had a pair of goals, and Joe "I'm a different Joe" Pavelski tallied the difference maker for the Teal. Evgeni "I'm also not Joe" Nabokov started game #36 on the season (out of 36 Sharks games) and made 29 saves for his league leading 19th victory.

The win was not pretty, as the Kings wouldn't die, but in the end, the Sharks get the two points, which is what matters at the end of the year. The usually awesome PK was good, allowing 1 goal on 5 power plays, including a 5 minute penalty when Craig Rivet recieved a Match Penalty for a crosscheck to the throat of Ladislav Nagy. There has been no word from the league on a review of a possible suspension for Rivet, a review which is mandatory for each Match Penalty handed out. Unless something arises tomorrow, Rivet should be in the lineup for the Sharks as they continue their roadtrip.

Game 2 of the roadtrip comes tomorrow evening, when the Sharks visit St. Louis for a matchup with the Blues for the first time this year (5:30). The Blues are a much improved club in the Central, which on a whole is a much improved division. Paul Kariya leads the way with 31 points and former Shark prospect Brad Boyes leads the team with 21 goals, in a Bluenote attack that has struggled to put pucks in the net, averaging 2.54 goals a game (which is better than the Sharks, who average 2.43). The defense in front of Manny Legace and youngster Hannu Toivonen has been the strongpoint for St. Louis, allowing 2.6 goals a game (behind the Sharks 2.1), however defensive anchor Barrett Jackman will be out with a concussion, a blow for the Bluenotes blueline. It'll be up to the Sharks to take advantage, which unfortunately isn't something they've done well or often this year. Always time to change, and as Confucious says "no better time than the present".

GO SHARKS (Confucious also say "Jesus save, but Lao-tse score on rebound"

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

12/22/07 anaheim 5, SHARKS 2

Not even Christmas could take the bitter taste from my mouth on this one, so here we go, albeit quite belated.

The three game mini series between the Sharks and Ducks mercifully ended Saturday night, as Anaheim took it to the hometown boys again with a 5-2 shellacking. Twice in the 3rd, the Sharks decided to show up, on goals from Captain Patrick Marleau and Marcel Goc, but it proved to not be nearly enough, as the Fowl were just clearly better. Evgeni Nabokov was as good as he could have been, stopping 19 shots in the loss, while starting his 35th game of the year (in 35 games).

Thankfully, the 2007 home schedule is complete. Usually, home ice carries an advantage, with the home crowd behind the team. For whatever reason, the Sharks suck at home. They've played 18 home games, and have won 6. By comparison, the 5-10 San Francisco 49ers have played 8 home games, and have won 3. So in 10 fewer games, they've won only 3 fewer contests. Yeah, it's that bad. Fortunately, the Teal travel well, leading the league in road victories, tied with Ottawa and Phoenix with 12 (Both Ottawa and the Sharks have won 12 in 17 games, Phoenix has won 12 in 20 road games).

While the home schedule is complete for the calendar year, the Sharks still have 4 games left in 2007, beginning Tuesday in Los Angeles (7:30). The Kings, despite a strong start, are now ruling the basement in the Pacific, and in the Western Conference. The season series is tilted towards the south, as the Kings have taken all three contests played in San Jose (5-2 on 11/2, 2-1 on 11/24, and 3-2 in a SO on 11/28), while the Sharks have taken the lone game at Staples Center. However their standing, Anze Kopitar, Mike Cammalleri, and Dustin Brown are still dangerous, and always a threat to score. If they don't do that tomorrow though, I somehow think I'll manage.

GO SHARKS (beat la)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

12/20/07 phoenix 3, SHARKS 2 SO

It took a skills competition, but the Phoenix Coyotes finally beat the Sharks this year.

Since defeating the Sharks 8-0 in Phoenix last December 30th, the Sharks have won all 8 contests between the two teams, until last night. A Shane Doan goal with just 40 seconds left tied it, and the anti-climatic shootout sealed the two points for the Desert Dogs. The opening 40 saw many shots and many saves, but no goals. Just 33 seconds into the third, Mike York opened the scoring, with Torrey Mitchell evening the score shortly thereafter. a Brou-ha-ha broke out, with Steve Bernier, Patrick Marleau, and Jeremy Roenick dropping the gloves for the Sharks, and Nick Boynton, Daniel Carcillo, and Keith Yandle going for Phoenix. JR scored #502 on the ensuing PP, and it looked like it would hold, until a wobbly Doan wrister floated past Evgeni "34 starts in 34 Sharks games this year" Nabokov. Nabby and Bryzgalov were incredible all night long, making 35 and 36 saves, respectively.

If you didn't know any better, you would have thought last night's game was against a top team in the conference. Now, while Phoenix is not sitting atop any standings, they are a vastly improved club since the arrival of Ilya Bryzgalov last month. They now approach each game with plenty of confidence, which fits nicely with their hunger and talent. It's nice to see that the Desert might have a quality team to cheer for again, unfortunately it might come at the expense of the Sharks, who will have to face this strong club so many times each year.

Saturday brings the final home game of 2007 for the Sharks, and it's definitely no pushover, when the Ducks come back to town (7:30). The Teal have not found great success at home this year, winning just 6 of 17 games played on the sheet at 525 W. Santa Clara. Losers of their last three on home ice, the Sharks would be well served to deliver an early Christmas present to the 17,496 sure to pack the Tank tomorrow evening in the form of two points for the good guys. San Jose has an uphill battle, as they face the same team that just this past Tuesday on home ice shut them out for the first time this season. Anaheim leads the season series 3-1. Whatever the result, tomorrow should not disappoint. If it does, it'll be a long Christmas break before we see the boys get another shot on home ice.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

12/18/07 anaheim 2, SHARKS 0

Well, ok. So round 2 goes to the Ducks.

A strong defensive effort by the birds coupled with an all-too-familiar disappearing act by the fins, and we find ourselves looking at the first shutout of the Teal on the year. As open as Sunday's matchup was, Tuesday's game was a grind it out battle that saw much fewer scoring chances and even fewer shots and goals. There were no Sharks goals to speak of, Evgeni Nabokov, Prince of the posts, Ayatollah of the iron, guy who's really good at standing in the net a lot and stopping pucks, hit start number 33 of the year (in 33 Sharks games), making 14 saves in the losing effort.

Despite getting shut out by a very strong defensive corps, the Sharks did have their chances Tuesday night. Mike Grier tried the Torrey Mitchell special, attempting a forehand deke to backhand move on J.S. Giguere on his shorthanded breakaway in the first period. Another shorthanded opportunity came when the puck jumped over the back of Giguere and twirled on the goalline before being plucked off by a Ducks defenseman.

With the two points, the Ducks inch closer to the Sharks in the standings. As of Thursday (12/20) morning, Anaheim sits one point back of San Jose. However, the often overlooked Games Played column gives the Sharks an advantage, as the Ducks have their 39 points in 37 games, while the Sharks have 40 points in just 33 games played. While it is only December, the standings watch is ongoing, as the halfway point of the year is just around the corner. The Sharks currently sit 2 points back of first place Dallas with one fewer game played. The Stars play at Vancouver at 7 tonight. Go Canucks.

As for the Sharks, they have their hands full earning the two points tonight, as the surging Phoenix Coyotes (there's some words I neve thought I'd say) come to town (7:30). The 'Yotes enter this contest winning 4 of their last 5 games, all of which have been played on the road. Ilya Bryzgalov is still strong in net, while Fredrik Sjostrom and Radim Vrbata have recorded 5 points in their last 3 games. 4 games have been played between these clubs this year, and the Sharks have won all four (two in Phoenix, two in San Jose). The last one was much closer than the rest, with the Sharks eeking out a 1-0 victory. Tonight could be a bigger margin, and I don't think any of the 17496 in attendance would complain.

GO SHARKS (Welcome back JR [probably back this evening])

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

12/16/07 sharks 2, ANAHEIM 1 SO

Niedermayer, schniedermayer.

The former captain, Scott Niedermayer made his valiant return from "deciding to not retire" last night. Somehow, he didn't get to mark it with a win. Torrey Mitchell scored on a breakaway after being knocked down, but decided to just get back up and score anyway. Bobby Ryan had the lone goal for the Ducks, a nice shot off a cross ice pass from the other debuting Duck, Doug Weight (traded for Andy McDonald late last week). Evgeni Nabokov hit consecutive start #32 (in 32 Sharks games this year), making 30 stops in this one, and earning win #18.

After a strong OT period, the two teams headed for a Shootout for the third time in three games. New Duck (since the beginning of the year) Todd Bertuzzi got the skills competition started, scoring on a pinpoint backhander up and over the glove hand of Nabokov. Mitchell tried the same move he used earlier to success on J. S. Giguere, but to no avail. Weight was next up, and was stopped by a sprawling, pad stacked Nabokov. Joe Pavelski slipped a wrister 5-hole on Giguere to tie the shootout at 1. Ryan Getzlaf beat the goalie, but couldn't beat the goal, ringing his shot off the crossbar. Devin Setoguchi was unable to capitalize on his chance to win it, getting it stuck in Giguere's sleepingbag sized pads. In the first sudden death round, Corey Perry came in wide, and slipped it by Nabokov. The unlikely hero, Captain Patrick Marleau, put one low stickside on Giguere that hit all three posts and ever so slightly trickled in. Bobby Ryan ripped one wide of the net, unlikely shooter Patrick Rissmiller, put one in Giguere's chest, Chris Kunitz also ripped one wide of the net, and Jumbo, better known as Joe Thornton, finished off the skills competition for the Sharks by going where Marleau went, low stickside, beating the oversized marshmellow, and earning the Sharks the extra point.

Much can be said about the return of Scott Niedermayer, but for Sharks fans, the most important part is when he decided to return. His season debut was Sunday against the Sharks, tonight is round 2, when the Ducks visit the Tank (7:30). Round 3 comes Saturday night, also in San Jose, but we'll cover that one later. Tonight's game brings the Ducks back to San Jose since they left here with a 2-1 Shootout victory on November 17th. The teams have split the games in Anaheim, giving the Ducks the 2-1 season edge, with all three contests being decided by the shootout. Tonight's game should be yet another doozy, being hard hitting, strongly defended, and greatly goaltended. NHL On the Fly (on the NHL Network) has dubbed tonight's game "guaranteed shootout night", I would love to see them be wrong (of course, if it means a Sharks win, I guess I'll take it).

GO SHARKS ("DUCKS SUCK" quack quack)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

12/15/07 dallas 4, SHARKS 2

Today's Sharks/Stars game was expected to be a close game, with the top players from each side (Modano, Morrow, Ribeiro, Turco and Thornton, Nabokov, Michalek, Marleau) factoring in significantly towards the final result. What wasn't expected was how much the officating would take over the contest.

Devin Setoguchi and Patrick Rissmiller scored for the Teal, Craig Rivet beat the paste outta Steve Ott, and Nabby, who had the goalposts permanently engraved with his number, made start #31 this year, and stopped 18 shots in the losing effort.

The reffing wasn't why the Sharks lost, but it played a big part. What really cost the Sharks the two points was the lack of any effort in the 3rd period. Despite a real strong effort all around in the first 20 minutes, the same level of intensity was not reached again throughout the entire game.The Sharks really seem to be figuring out what it takes to win games, and as the season goes on and they keep doing those things, they'll only get better with those things and will win more games.

The Sharks get a chance to redeem themselves right away when they travel to Anaheim tomorrow to take on the Ducks (5:00). Tomorrow's contest is the first of three meetings between the California rivals this week (12/16 @ Anaheim, 12/18 and 12/22 @ SJ). Two Ducks make their season debuts tomorrow, although neither is new to the game. Recently un"retired" Scott Niedermayer returns to Anaheim along with newly acquired Doug Weight, whom the Ducks got from the Blues for Andy McDonald. Tomorrow's game should be another good one, hopefully it's decided by the players, and not the zebras.

GO SHARKS (Hey Neeeeeeeeedermayer)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

12/13/07 SHARKS 5, vancouver 2

2 in a row. At home. Not against Phoenix.

Another wounded opponent limped into the Tank Thursday night, and the Sharks devoured them quite thoroughly.

Ok, so it wasn't that majestic, but hey, give me a break here. I've seen 14 Sharks games this season in the friendly confines of the Tank, and Thursday's victory was just the 6th of the campaign. Joe Thornton lead the Teal with a rocket slapshot goal and added an assist. Steve Bernier, Joe Pavelski, Captain Patrick Marleau, and Milan Michalek also hit the scoresheet for the Sharks, who notched their third win against Vancouver this year. Sir Evgeni Nabokov of the goaltending kingdom known as Kazakhstan made his 30th start in 30 games this year, stopping 15 of the 17 shots he faced.

Another game, another strong effort. Forechecking, backchecking, body checking, poke checking, digging pucks out of corners, rapid puck pursuit, you name it, the Sharks have probably been doing it, and pretty well, at least as of late. It's unknown what, but something has seemingly brought this team alive, hopefully more than temporarily. As the calender approaches Christmas time, the season nears it's halfway point, and the games start to mean more. Teams start to come together, the strong teams emerge and rise atop their divisions and conferences, the men and the boys are separated, blah blah blah and etc... happens. In the Pacific, the Stars don't seem to be going away, the Ducks are getting Scott Niedermayer back (just in time for Sunday's showdown at the Pond, go figure), the Coyotes are sorta lurking a bit maybe, and the Kings are dangerous on any given night, but can't seem to string those nights together. The Pacific Division is definitely up for grabs, and the Sharks are pretty tall, but it remains to be seen still if they want to jump.

The willingness to leap can be viewed Saturday, in a rare matinee showing, when the aforementioned Dallas Stars (boo) come to town (1:00). The Sharks lead the season series 3-1. Each game has seen the road team come out victorious, with the Sharks winning 4-2 on 10/29, 4-3 on 11/14, and 3-2 on 12/5. Dallas has taken the lone game in SJ played on 11/7 by a score of 3-1. The winner of tomorrow's contest will see themselves atop the Pacific, so expect a good one.

GO SHARKS (STARS [boo], just practicing)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

12/11/07 SHARKS 4, minnesota 1

The one (and truly only positive) thing noticeable when the Sharks get humiliated by a large score is how they respond the next game.

Last year they came back from an 8-0 drubbing to win 4-2 the next night on the road. This year they went down to Colorado 6-2, and took a strong victory out of Chicago the next game, and last night the Sharks responded from their 7-1 destruction by the Buffalo Sabres by beating up on a visiting Minnesota Wild team last night.

On a night that just reeked of another bad beating on the horizon, it was 60 minutes of hard work from guys who have been underperforming a bit that did the trick for the Teal. Steve Bernier had a pair of goals, Mike Grier added one as well, and Patrick Marleau looked like the Patty of old, if for just one night (hopefully not), hitting guys and using his size and speed to get scoring chances for himself and his linemates all night long. Marcel Goc, making his first appearance in 9 games since being on the IR with back problems, showed up in a big way as well, sharing a line with Bernier and Marleau, and working hard all night long, getting an assist for his troubles. Joe Pavelski added a goal and an assist as well, making the theme of the entire evening a "Uh, that was good. Where was this on Saturday?" motif. Evgeni Nabokov, king of the twine, made his 29th start in 29 Sharks games played this year, making 36 seemingly ordinary stops in the winning effort.

Touched on above was how easy the Sharks made their win last night look. The line of Marleau-Goc-Bernier lead the way, as there was not really one Shark who had a poor game. Why there is such discrepancy between their effort from night to night, who knows, but it's the good nights that make the fans happy, and as long as 525 W. Santa Clara fills with 17,496 critics who want to see success, it will probably be the goal of the Sharks to bring it to 'em.

Thursday evening is the next opportunity to bring that success to the fans, as the homestand continues, when the Vancouver Canucks make a stop (7:30). Coming off a win in Anaheim tonight, the 'Nucks won't have much time to recover, as they will be here tomorrow, sans an injured Roberto Luongo. Curtis Sanford made the start down south, unknown yet if he or Drew MacIntyre will defend the goal tomorrow. Vancouver currently sits atop the Northwest Division, and will not be a pushover for the Teal. The Sharks lead the season series 2-0, sweeping the pair of games played at GM Place (3-1 on 10/5, and 4-2 on 10/15).

GO SHARKS (Make it 3-0)

Monday, December 10, 2007

12/8/07 buffalo 600, SHARKS ??

Ok, so maybe it wasn't that bad, but it was pretty bad. In a reversal from the last time the Sharks and Sabres met, this time it was Buffalo who came onto San Jose ice and made a mockery of the home team.

After a hard fought battle in Phoenix a night earlier, the Sharks just looked plumb tired Saturday against the Sabres. Buffalo, coming off a 8-2 shellacking in LA a couple nights earlier, was just much hungrier for this game. Sandis Ozolinsh had the lone goal for the Teal, a point shot that bounced off several legs and found it's way past a prone Ryan Miller. Evgeni Nabokov started his 28th game in 28th games this year, but the much vaunted Dmitri Patzold got a chance to finish it. Nabby will be saddled with the loss, giving up 4 goals on 25 shots, Patzy just gets some practice, allowing 3 goals on 9 shots. Guess we now know why Nabokov has started all 28 thusfar.

It's real simple to get terribly upset about this game, hell, I was/am pretty unhappy about it. But at this point, I'm not sure that it means a whole lot, as the team has been poor at home, and been poor when returning from a roadtrip, this was just a continuation of the trend. From having played a grind it out contest in Phoenix the night before, the Sharks, hopefully, were just really really tired. Regardless, the big picture really hasn't shifted at all from this game, despite how ugly and horrible it was. The Sharks still sit atop the Pacific Division, tied in points and wins with the Dallas Stars, but with 2 games in hand. The Ducks are looming just 2 points back, but have played 3 more contests than the Teal.

December sees 11 more contests, 6 at home, and 5 on the road. The Sharks 4 game homestand continues with game #2 Tuesday night against the Minnesota Wild (7:30). The Wild share the same point total as the Sharks (34 points), while having played one more game, and are in 2nd place in the Northwest Division. Last year the Sharks won 3 of 4 from Minnesota, splitting games at the Tank, while taking both games at Xcel in St. Paul. Let's hope the Sharks success runs wild on the Wild tomorrow.

GO SHARKS (Must...Forget...Drubbing)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

12/7/07 sharks 1, COYOTES 0

Now, I'm not one to complain, but these last minute scrambles where I'm on the edge of my couch screaming at my TV with my dog barking at me for screaming at my TV are just a wee bit too tense for December hockey. Joe Thornton had a point on every Sharks goal last night (just one, but he still did it), and Evgeni Nabokov was in net, as the Sharks finished their roadtrip unblemished.

They say goals in the first minute or the last minute of a period can be killers. Milan Michalek proved that theory true once again, as his shot off a Thornton pass from behind the net managed its way past Phoenix netminder Ilya Bryzgalov with just 15 seconds remaining in the middle period. The goal was the only tally of the night on either side, and stood up as the game winner. Bryzgalov was strong in his first game against the Sharks as a Coyote, but it was the other Russian netminder, the man who stood opposite Bryzgalov, that made headlines. Nabby, playing in his 27th consecutive game (in 27 Sharks games this season), made 27 saves for the shutout victory, the 38th clean sheet of his career. Nabby has had the Coyotes number all season, as he has not allowed a goal to the Desert Dogs since the 9 minute mark of the 1st Period of the first game these teams played, way back on November 10th. With the 51 minutes and 3 full shutouts since then, Nabokov now has a shutout streak of 231 minutes against the guys from Phoenix. Not too shabby for Nabby, eh?

The Teal earned consecutive victory #4 last night in Glendale in similar fashion as the previous 3, at least as the score is concerned, winning another game by just one goal. A strong defensive effort by the Teal, complimented by the dominating play of Joe Thornton, has lead to all four victories in this streak. The poor play at home is hard to explain, as the Sharks own the best road record in the NHL at 11-3-2.

Team Teal gets an opportunity to play hostile hosts this evening as the far traveled Buffalo Sabres make a stop to the Tank (7:30). The West Coast has not been kind to the Sabres, as they limp into San Jose having lost 4-1 in Anaheim on Wednesday, and 8-2 in LA Thursday. Having been hot before this 3 game California tour, the Sabres have shown that they can be a dangerous team. Hopefully we don't see how dangerous they can be tonight.

GO SHARKS (win at home plz)

Friday, December 07, 2007

12/5/07 sharks 3, DALLAS 2

Joe Thornton was supreme yet again, recording 3 points in what turned out to be another installment of the "We'll play well for the entire contest, but make it interesting towards the end just to see if your heart is still functioning" series of Sharks contests.

The third notch in the belt came last night in Dallas, as Thornton assisted on goals by the slumping Jonathan Cheechoo and Patrick Marleau, and added a marker himself in what turned out to be the difference maker. Cheechoo's goal was a bit ugly, bouncing off a defenseman and in, Thornton's was a beauty one-timer from Milan Michalek on a set dump-in play, but it was the middle goal that really stood out. With the Captain sitting in the slot, Thornton (or Jumbo, as the team is tending to call him) peeked over his right shoulder to check on Marleau before throwing a strong backhander through three Stars and right to Patty, who slapped it right past goalie Marty Turco. My words do not do it justice, so I suggest you check it out for yourselves. Mr. Dependable, Evgeni Nabokov, was right where he has been all year, between the iron and in front of the twine, for the 26th time this year (in 26 Sharks contests), stopping 17 shots for his league lead tying 14th victory of the campaign.

The W for the Teal was their 3rd consecutive, and 10th on the road this season. It was also their third victory in three games on the hostile frozen waters of the American Airlines Center in Dallas on the year. So, while they aren't, as the Underarmor commercial suggests, "protecting this house", carrying a subpar 4-5-2 record at the Tank, they are doing a fine job not sucking entirely, peforming well in foreign territory.

Friday's contest sees the Sharks end their roadtrip (unfortunately) in the home of another Pacific Division foe, the Phoenix Coyotes (6:00). The 'Yotes are a much improved team since the Sharks last saw them, namely because of their new netminder, Ilya Bryzgalov. Placed on waivers by Anaheim for reasons that only Mickey Mouse knows (oh, right. Not Disney anymore, oh well), Phoenix was fourth on the priority list, and was able to snatch him up. Bryz started off hot for the Coyotes, winning his first four starts. Since then, he's cooled off a bit, losing his next four, before defeating the Kings last night. The Sharks lead the season series with the Desert Dogs 3-0, winning games in SJ (4-1 on 11/10, and 5-0 on 11/12) and the lone contest in Phoenix (6-0 on 11/15). All three games were without Bryzgalov, a major step in the right direction for Phoenix. Hopefully it makes no difference.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

12/3/07 sharks 3, COLORADO 2

A hard fought contest, almost 60 minutes of hockey from the Sharks, a strong effort from Evgeni Nabokov, and a game winning goal on a gratuitous bounce from Mike Grier resulting in a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. I assure you last night was it's own individual game, and not just a rerun of Friday's contest.

Joe Thornton was key again last night against the Avs, despite not scoring a goal. Setting up goals by Milan Michalek and Steve Bernier,Thornton had points on 7 consecutive Sharks tallies until Grier's bouncy shot trickled past Avalanche goalie Jose Theodore in the 3rd period. Nabokov proved once again why he's starting, stopping 33 shots in his 25th consecutive start in 25 Sharks games this year.

The next stop for the Sharks on their 3 game roadtrip takes them east, but yet back into the Pacific Division (go figure). Wednesday night, the Sharks take their mighty two game winning streak (it's mighty because you gotta take 'em where you can get 'em) to Big D to face the division leading Stars (5:30). Dallas has been hot since shaking up their front office, going 8-2 in the 10 games since facing the Sharks the day after the firings (Sharks won that game in the shootout 4-3). The Sharks lead the season series 2-1, taking both contests in Dallas (4-2 on 10/29 and 4-3 on 11/14), while dropping the lone matchup in San Jose (losing 3-1 on 11/7).

GO SHARKS (winning streak wooooo)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

11/30/07 SHARKS 3, colorado 2

A win? At home? Is that allowed to happen? Not that I'm complaining or anything, cause I'll sure take it.

On the 2nd anniversary of the trade that for the next 15-20 years will be known in San Jose as "The Trade", Joe Thornton once again showed Sharks fans why they spent all that money on #19 jerseys with his name on them. Leading the charge against a surefire HOF bound Joe who also wears #19 (Sakic), Thornton scored twice on the PP, and added a helper on a Mike Grier goal, sending the Sharks to victory on their ice for just the 4th time this season. Evgeni Nabokov, Sharks supreme goaltender and lord of the dance, made his 24th start in 24 games this season, stopping 18 shots in the winning effort.

For those of you new to the Sharks, on November 30, 2005, the Boston Bruins traded Thornton to the Sharks for Wayne Primeau, Brad Stuart, and Marco Sturm. Famously, Doug Wilson was quoted as saying that he called up then Bruins GM Mike O'Connell asking for Sergei Samsonov, when a deal for Thornton was proposed his way by O'Connell.

Friday's game ended a tough month for the Teal, a month that saw them post a 6-3-3 record (6 W, 6 L, for those of you keeping score at home), winning just 3 of 8 at home. We've heard that this team is headed for greatness, and the past few games, we've seen glimpses of what could be, but is not quite there yet. Thornton is supreme on offense, leading the team with 29 points. JR is second on the team with just 13, a less than great statistic as the likes of Jonathan Cheechoo, Patrick Marleau, and Milan Michalek are struggling with a lesser point total than a 3rd liner. On defense, Craig Rivet and Sandis Ozolinsh (2.0) are anchors, Matt Carle, Christian Ehrhoff, Douglas Murray and Kyle McLaren are solid but still prone to mistakes occasionally, and Alexei Semenov is still a bit shaky. Evgeni Nabokov has been the engine powering the Teal express. Without his performance thusfar, this team is more towards the outhouse than they are the penthouse. With 5 months left to play in the regular season, the Sharks are in an ok, albeit undesirable position. For a team picked by most to win the Cup, this middle of the road play is a bit unnerving, considering their expected success.

The Sharks begin their quest for a better month, and a strong end to 2007 on Monday when they take on the Avalanche again, this time in Denver (6:00). The season series is now even at 1, with each squad holding serve on their home sheet. The Avalanche played Saturday in LA, handily beating the Kings 5-2. Each team had Sunday off, resting up for what should be a good matchup Monday evening.

NOTE: Monday's contest is not on FSN Bay Area, but is still available for viewing on Center Ice, through the Altitude feed. Mike Haynes and shortly thereafter mute button, hello.

GO SHARKS (again I ask, Scott who?