Friday, February 13, 2009

2/9/09-2/13/09 sharks 5-2 and Boston

First, the city.

Many of you may know this, but Boston is a great sports town. Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and while I was here, college hockey as well. There's a ton of history in this town, a lot of it devoted to those teams, the rest of it devoted to this country. While here, I took trips to Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox (1912), Union Oyster House, the oldest and first restaurant in America (1826), Bell in Hand Tavern, the first bar in America (1790) and the Old Massachusetts State House, the site of the reading of the Declaration of Independence and the Boston Massacre.

I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on Friend Street, right next door to the TD BankNorth Garden. A nice, new-ish hotel tucked in the block, my cab driver actually missed it on our first pass, and when he saw he had passed the address, he reversed about half a block to get me to the front door. There are a bunch of bars in Boston, by the Garden is no exception. While here, I stopped in at a few, most notably Boston Beer Works (brewer of a lot of beers, including the very tasty Chamomile Green and the Bunker Hill Blue-beery Ale, with actual Maine blueberries in it, also be sure to order the fried pickles) and my favorite stop of the trip, The Four's.

As I found out at the end of the trip, The Four's has been voted the #1 sports bar in America, and certainly doesn't disappoint. I visited this fine establishment on Monday night, where I watched the end of the 57th Beanpot, won by Boston University by a score of 5-2. I visited again Tuesday night after the Sharks game, where I was met with joking hostility by some of the guests, who were very kind. I was also there on Wednesday night to watch the Sharks take on the Penguins, when the manager was kind enough to put the Sharks game on 3 tvs for myself, another family of Sharks fans, and a group of Sharks fans from Southern Ontario. Great place with tons of history on the walls, dishes named for players, and tasty food too. Get the buffalo chicken nachos, they're tremendous.

Onto the game. At first glance, the TD BankNorth Garden is a huge gigantic building. Well, at second and third glance and every subsequent glance its still huge and gigantic, too. Once inside though, it becomes apparent why the building is so big. What you can't see from the outside of the Garden is that the bottom floor serves as a train station for Boston, with multiple Amtrak tracks taking people all over the northeast. To get to the Garden, one must go in the doors of the ground floor, and then go up, up, up.

Three stories up is the loge, or lower level seating area for the Garden. The concourse is kinda wide, with food on the inside spotted around the concourse. The seating area is much smaller than you are led to believe by looking at the exterior, only 17,565 can sit to watch a hockey game. The lower level is a checker board pattern of alternating black and gold seat backs, upstairs is just gold. A ton of banners hang from the rafters, half devoted to the Celtics, half to the Bruins.

The game itself was a tale of three periods, the first going to the Bruins, with two goals from who many believe is the second coming of Cam Neely, young Milan Lucic. The Sharks tallied once in the first, a Rob Blake shot that ricocheted off of Dennis Wideman's skate and past goalie Tim Thomas.

The second period was more of a toss up, as the Bruins began the period where they left off in the first. The game seemed to swing when the Sharks were able to kill 49 seconds of a two man advantage, and the rest of the other penalty as well. The Sharks still trailed 2-1 after 2, but the game was much closer after 40 minutes of play.

The third and final period of play was a great one for all of those who came to the arena in teal that night. Captain Patrick Marleau tied the game at 2 just a few minutes into the frame, Milan Michalek gave the Sharks a 3-2 lead just a couple minutes later, and Joe Thornton capped his return with a right-place-at-the-right-time goal, a deflection off his skate that completed a 3 goal in 6:16 span for the Sharks.

There were quite a few Sharks fans in the stands, and quite a few Thornton Bruins jerseys as well. He got a decent amount of boos every time he touched the puck, but at night's end he got the last laugh as the Sharks left with the two points.

The Sharks, and myself, will be in Buffalo tonight for a matchup with the Sabres (4:30 California time). Former Shark Craig Rivet wears the C for the Sabres, who are without leading goal scorer Thomas Vanek who is out with a broken jaw. These two teams met last year in San Jose, a 7-1 dismantling by the Sabres. I wouldn't mind seeing the road team do that again tonight.

GO SHARKS (Condolences to the families of everyone who was on Continental Airlines Flight #3407, a small plane that was to land in Buffalo late last night, but fatally crashed into a home just miles from the airport)


Sunday, February 08, 2009

2/7/09 COLUMBUS 3, sharks 2 (OT)

Its been a little while since we last spoke, I've been real busy with the Stealth and moving to SJSU and stuff, but I'm happy to say that I'm gonna get started blogging again. To the important part...

Dan LaCosta. Remember the name, fin fans, because, well, he's some young lucky schmuck who got to face the recently rolling downhill San Jose Sharks. After dropping down 2-0 after one, the Sharks scratched and clawed their way back to even, only to fall under in overtime to the Blue Jackets for the second time this year.

I didn't actually get to catch this one, as I was in San Francisco last night for the belated Chinese New Year parade, but lemme just say, wow, what a parade it was. Some hi-lites: A giant dragon that took somewhere close to 100 people to operate, a float with a swinging door that opened to reveal a cute little girl waving, only to have the door close every now and then, SF Mayor Gavin Newsom out of his parade vehicle walking around shaking hands, exchanging hugs, and performing marriages (one of those might not be right), and even a drum corps that stopped mid-march, rotated, and went half speed.

But back to the Sharks, their loss last night brings their losing streak to three, losing in all three possible ways (regulation, shootout, and overtime, respectively). Its the first three game losing streak all year, and it continues a sluggish patch for the Teal since the All-Star Break. The top line has just 6 points in 5 games since January 25th, Evgeni Nabokov has 2 shutouts, but 3 semi-sloppy games as well. The defense is still missing Brad Lukowich, but the play of Alexei Semenov (until last night) has been solid in his stead. JR is still out, Torrey Mitchell is still out, both look to be back by the end of the month hopefully.

Last night's Jackets game was the first of the annual Sharks February Mostly East Coast Road Trip (for the tennis tournament that takes place at HP), and it was just the tip of the frozen iceberg. Tuesday, the Sharks are in Boston to take on the East leading Bruins, Wednesday they take on the defending East champion Pittsburgh Penguins, Friday they're on the shores of Lake Freezeyfreeze in Buffalo to play the Sabres, and Sunday they match up for an afternoon affair in gloriously safe Newark with the New Jersey Devils.

For selfish reasons, hopefully the Sharks awake from their late January/beginning February slumber, as I will be in attendance for the matchups on Tuesday in Boston and Friday in Buffalo. That's right, the Odyssey is back in the saddle, (or the airplane as it were) for another couple games, this time in the beautiful weather of the NorthEast division. Unfortunately not all 5 cities are in a row, so I won't be able to do like last year, but I will be at a couple. If you will be there, feel free to contact me, I'd love to meet up with you for a beer or something while I'm over there.

I'll check in from frigid Boston tomorrow night, as I will do each night this week.