Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Opening weekend 2008/09

I've been incredibly busy recently, and the blog has suffered a bit. But have no fear, the resurgence of the blog is here. I got three games to cover, so let's start there.

But first, an incredibly sad piece of news out of Russia yesterday. Rangers prospect and current KHLer Alexei Cherepanov died of an apparent heart attac yesterday after collapsing during a game. Cherepanov was just 19 years old, and was tearing up the KHL. Condolences to the Cherepanov family, and everyone connected with this youngster.

Back in the States, the Sharks tore up the rest of California this weekend, winning all three of their opening contests by a combined score of 8-2. Sure, it was just one weekend of play and just three measly games in a season of 82 (and hopefully many many more after that), but the Sharks looked pretty dang good against their SoCal rivals.

10/9 SHARKS 4, anaheim 1

Opening night in San Jose, always a fun night, way back to the days of the space-y green lasers that came down from the rafters to draw on the ice and the amazingly cool remote-controlled fins that circled the faceoff dot at center ice. This year, the 17,496 were treated to a stunning display of videos on the ice, and a pregame video set to the music of THE MOST IRONIC SONG EVER, something yadda yadda yadda chorus "it's lights out".

Now, normally I'd think this is hilarious on the part of the Sharks org, and a well played joke, however, this IS the Sharks org. who asked me "Who's side are you on?", so I'm not so sure the joke was intended there.

Either way, the lights did then go out, the Shark head malfunctioned and didn't come down, and I had a crappy view to see the latest banner of mediocrity (Pacific Division Champs 2007/08) dropped from the rafters. After dropping the banner, the Sharks promptly dropped the Ducks.

My Cheechoo was on fire (that's not the last time I'll say that this year), netting a pair of goals, Devin Setoguchi had one, and Christian "Gosh Darn" Ehrhoff hit the back of the twine, although I'm convinced it wasn't purposeful. Dan Boyle and Rob Blake had good debuts, finding themselves in the play often, taking quite a few shots from the blueline. Nabby found his rightful spot in net, and was just a few minutes from a shutout before a deflected point shot trickled past him.

The thing that really struck me the most about opening night was the actual presence of a forecheck. As has been written since by other fans, the Sharks were actually a little suffocating, on the PK, and just for the hell of it. Who knows if this is a trend that will stick around, but god, that'd be amazing if it did. The power play looked good too, three guys down low, someone ALWAYS IN FRONT OF THE NET, and two guys on the point with cannons ready to fire. I could get used to that.

This was the only game of the weekend that I was really able to watch all the way through, so I'm just going to assume that these trends continued through the home/home with the Kings.

I do know, from the box scores though, Setoguchi had another goal, Tomas Plihal and Joe Pavelski scored, and Lukas Kaspar recorded his first career NHL goal on a shot he didn't even know went in (ok, so that wasn't in the box score, but I couldn't sit through a fully tivo'd game). Brian Bouchutout lived up to his name in his season debut on Sunday in LA, confusing Nabby as he didn't have to play half a year before getting a rest.

So after one weekend of hockey, this much is apparent.
* The Sharks don't appear to be too phased by the change in coaching staff/philosophy for success.
* Rob Blake likes to shoot the puck. He leads the team in doing that.
* Todd McLellan has had his team ready to play for all three games, starting in a fashion Ron Wilson teams didn't.
* There's an incredibly large amount of hockey left, so all this is really pretty moot.

I'll cap this massive recap of the past 3 weeks with my belated predictions for this year. No fancy funny phrases, just some standings. Ok, so my standings may be really funny, but hey, I'm entitled to be just as hilariously wrong as the next guy, no?


1) Washington Capitals (SE)
2) New York Rangers (A)
3) Montreal Canadiens (NE)
4) Philadelphia Flyers (A)
5) Pittsburgh Penguins (A)
6) Boston Bruins (NE)
7) New Jersey Devils (A)
8) Carolina Hurricanes (SE)
9) Buffalo Sabres (NE)
10) Florida Panthers (SE)
11) Tampa Bay Lightning (SE)
12) Toronto Maple Leafs (NE)
13) Ottawa Senators (NE)
14) Atlanta Thrashers (SE)
15) New York Islanders (A)


1) Detroit Red Wings (C)
2) San Jose Sharks (P)
3) Edmonton Oilers (NW)
4) Dallas Stars (P)
5) Phoenix Coyotes (P)
6) Chicago Blackhawks (C)
7) Nashville Predators (C)
8) Vancouver Canucks (NW)
9) Columbus Blue Jackets (C)
10) Anaheim Ducks (P)
11) Calgary Flames (NW)
12) Colorado Avalanche
13) Minnesota Wild
14) St. Louis Blues
15) Los Angeles Kings

Back to the present, the Sharks get back to action tonight, to work towards that #2 place in the West when they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets (7:30). The Jackets begin another season long attempt to avoid the futility of missing the playoffs, something that will come soon, but as you can see from my predictions, won't happen just yet. They're coached by Paul Bearer (WWE joke), who has the alias of one Ken Hitchcock, king of the trap. The Sharks have never fared too well against the trap, however this is a team that seems to be able to generate offense from everywhere, making for an interesting matchup.

GO SHARKS (RIP Alexei Cherepanov)


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