Friday, November 25, 2011

"So Long and Thanks for the Goalie!"

The Blackhawks lost 1-0 to the Sharks.  Antti Niemi got his first shutout of the year and earned it.  And this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for Doug Wilson.

Doug Wilson, you have no idea how happy I am to know that you are in charge of making the San Jose Sharks a better team.  Your class and professionalism are a tribute to the sport and the Sharks organization.  I love that you don't give people ridiculous contracts, and that Heatley contract that I didn't like that featured a no-trade clause?  you found a way out of it.  and you got Martin Havlat!  You're the greatest.  Most sports fans don't know the warm, comforting feeling of having complete faith in their team's management and I feel lucky to have it.  Thank you, Doug Wilson, for making this team a fun one to watch, year after year.

In other news, the NHL spent a great deal to advertise the "new tradition" that is the NHL Thanksgiving Showdown on NBC, because apparently something can be a tradition even if it hasn't been done twice or, at the time of advertising, once.  I didn't watch the parade and thus, sadly, missed Cee Lo Green's performance on the NHL float, but I did watch the game on Friday.  It was a good match-up between the Bruins and the Red Wings in Boston and yet I found it very tedious.  It really made me realize how much I dislike the NBC crew.  Pierre McGuire is insipid.  Mike Milbury is a blowhard.  Emerick and Olzyck are not very pleasant to listen to.  And maybe I just don't like that they're not on any one side.  It's not football.  It's weird to have a nationally televised game presented as an NHL showcase, because that's not typically how we watch hockey.  I'm happy to tune into another team's broadcast and check out what's happening elsewhere in the league or when I need something in the background while I'm cooking.

NBC spent a lot of time pushing the Tim Thomas/Jimmy Howard angle of this game, possibly because they're both American.  At any rate, the Bruins played Tuukka Rask in net and NBC didn't seem to pick it up until half-way through the first period, so engrossed were they in their own talking points.  No back-up goalie was going to stop them from talking all about Thomas and then asking about him in the behind-the-bench interview with Bruins Coach Claude Julien.

I skipped ahead and then turned it off at the end of overtime.  The shoot-out would have only made the game seem even more like an exhibition.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Proposed Solution to Defense in the NHL

I wanted to touch on the big buzz-story around the NHL that began this past Wednesday, the night of November 9th.  In a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Philadelphia Flyers refused to even attempt to break out of their zone on multiple occasions because the Lightning were playing defense in what is known as a 1-3-1 formation, in which one defender pressures the puck-carrier, three defenders stand at the red line to break up long passes, and one defender stays deep in their own zone in order to be the first to the puck in the event that the offensive team dumps the puck into the zone.  The Flyers, when presented with this defense, simply stayed in their own defensive zone and skated around with the puck for whole stretches of the game.  I thought it was a funny little story, a quirky side-show that happened in Florida when Flyers Coach Peter Laviolette realized that he had no idea how to beat a "neutral-zone trap" defense.  "No big deal," I thought, watching the highlights.  "Chris Pronger is a whiny bitch whose team refused to play, thus exposing and even highlighting the limits of Peter Laviolette's competence.  And they lost the game and looked like dipshits in the process, so justice is served!"  What produced a stronger reaction from me and drives me to address the subject here, is that the media (and according to Pierre LaBrun, the General Managers) are widely blaming the Tampa Bay Lightning for the lull in play!  That absolutely dumbfounds me.

Hey, Amici's! You Suck!

The Sharks are now 7-5-2 (W-L-T) on the season and appear to be playing well.  But I don't care to talk about that.  I expect them to play well.

The Jack-in-the-Box Taco Minute has become the Jack-in-the-Box Taco Minutes!  I made it clear at the beginning of the season how I felt about the promotion as it was first presented.  Now, there is something to add: The crowd took to booing the announcement of the Taco Minute, which was announced during the last TV time-out of the second period of each game.  People of the Arena, I thank you for booing this awful promotion and our voices, apparently, have been heard!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The End of a Road Trip

The Sharks are now 5-4-1 (W-L-T), after going 4-1-1 on a two-week road trip that featured tough-fought wins over the Bruins, Predators, and Red Wings.  All in all, it was a pretty confidence-inspiring trip!  Havlat looks good, Joe Thornton is taking control, and Joe Pavelski is scoring like a madman.  Brent Burns continues to make conspicuous defensive errors; I continue to have faith in our coaching staff to coach the crappiness out of his game by the end of the season.

Tonight, the Sharks are at home to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Even though he is still not playing in NHL games, Sidney Crosby is travelling and practicing with the team, which means that he will be in the building to witness the Penguins' soul-crushing defeat.  I recall fondly the Penguins' last visit to San Jose, in which they were handed a 5-0 loss so devastating that it gave their team president a heart attack.  Obviously, I wished him a full and speedy recovery, but damn that was an epic win!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Game Recap

I was in Oakland most of the day and night and only shuffled back in through my front door to watch a recording of the Islander's game at 2:30 or so.  Needless to say, I was in no condition to sit through a 2.5 hour hockey game.  But in the first three minutes I watched, they won face-offs, earned a powerplay, scored on that powerplay, and killed a penalty, so I am going to infer that the Sharks opened a Costco-sized can of whoop-ass on the Islanders and ran away with the game to a 5-0 victory, perfect on special teams.  Good job, Boys!  Keep it there!  Only one more win to make this a perfect* roadtrip!  I'm so proud.

Sharks now 5-3-1. (W-L-T*)

*Fuck the shoot out.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Texas Rangers Lose Second Consecutive World Series

Did anybody catch the game, tonight?  It was amazing!  Another brilliant display of skill and determination between two ferocious competitors.  The level of play has been so elevated in the games between these two clubs that it saddens me to even think that one of them might be moved to the Eastern Conference next year.  Yes, the Sharks and the Red Wings have become a must-watch match-up for anyone in love with the sport of ice hockey.  They have looked to each other as measuring sticks for the past several years and are coming off of the most closely competed Stanley Cup Playoff series in history.  Tonight's game did not disappoint.  Sharks won 4-2, including an empty-net goal.  I eagerly await the Red Wings' first visit to San Jose this season, November 17.

Also: Somewhere in the World, baseball was played.  And Texas was eliminated in the final round for the second year in a row!  I know this because they lost to the Giants last year.  It's too bad that they didn't lose at home again so I could watch Sad George Bush's sad reaction shots.  I guess there's always next year...

In real news: The Sharks are on a roll!  The first four games of this road trip are done and won.  The Sharks came back in the third period to tie the Devils (then win the shootout).  They earned a 2-0 lead over the defending-champion Bruins and, when it evaporated in a moment, responded with poise and a game-winning goal.  They did a similar feat against the Nashville Predators, regaining the lead only a minute after surrendering it.  Now they've defeated the Red Wings in another hard-fought, high-tempo game of the caliber we've come to expect (and demand) from this rivalry.  The second back-to-back game is on Long Island tomorrow and it's up to the Sharks to not overlook the Islanders, who have sucked for some years now.  The Sharks have a history for playing down to less successful teams even as much as they play up to perennial powerhouses like Detroit.  But I don't think they will.  I'm sure they've been looking forward to facing Evgeni Nabokov, whether he ends up playing in that game or not.

A couple things overlooked in all this:
- Martin Havlat is a fucking boss and possibly our lord savior in disguise.  This win-streak began with his first game as a Shark and he has assists in all four wins.
- The Sharks have been losing face-offs.  I seriously can't remember when the last time was the Sharks were under 50% on face-offs.  It's not something worth worrying about, as long as we're winning, but that was a real shock to me.

The Sharks are now 4-3-1. (W-L-T)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Uncanny Valley

Have you ever wanted a robot friend?  One that could talk to you and empathize with you and give you hugs and do your work and possibly have sex with you?  How 'bout one that just chats with you on the internet about how nice bunnies are?  Well, is home to just that!  The latter, I mean.  It's the product of Man's desire to bridge "the uncanny valley," that point at which artificial humanoids become life-like enough to be creepy, before they become indistinguishable from the real thing.  Cleverbot is a robot designed to have natural-sounding, human conversations.  It mimics humans by generating responses from previous conversations it has had with other people, so it supposedly "learns" from people, like the Terminator.  It just fooled 59% of a test group into thinking it was human. (Source)

The tested version runs 42 searches of its databases before it answers.  The free, online version makes considerably less of an effort.  Here's what people are saying about it, from the Cleverbot website:

"CleverBot is freaking amazing! I believe it knows the secrets of the universe. I had an entire conversation in Japanese with CleverBot. It is awesome. Not to mention that it is a great role-player and knows all the spells used in Harry Potter. Lol. Best app ever!"
   12th July 2011
"The app is amazing. And she/he (Cleverbot) is more fun to text to than my actual living friends. Haha."
   25th June 2011
"Cleverbot has earned a whole new level of respect from me- mostly because she knows the lyrics to David Bowies songs."
   24th June 2011

Naturally, I was intrigued.  I had to meet and interview this robot, probe its knowledge-base and find out what makes it tick.  Or at least try to chat hockey with it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Games 2 & 3: Back-to-Backes

Last night's loss to the Blues comes after the 1-0 road loss to the Ducks.  It's no big deal.  It was the first of three instances of back-to-back games the Sharks have in three weeks.

I was at the ducks game, at least the second two periods.  Greiss looked good in that game, but the Sharks' coordination, especially on the powerplay, looked really bad.  There were many passes to no one and even more directly to or through ducks players.  Brent Burns, in particular, seemed to be struggling to coordinate with the others.  He will get it together, I have faith, but it looks like it may be a much slower process than I had anticipated.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Game 1: "We Want Tacos!"

I don't want tacos.  Fuck Jack-in-the-Box tacos!  We've all eaten them, sure, in our weaker moments, at two o'clock in the morning.  We're desperate--but that's just it!  Jack-in-the-Box tacos are sold two-for-$0.99 and are only charitably called tacos in the first place.

Meet the new Sharks food promotion: The Jack-in-the-Box Taco Minute!

If the Sharks score in the second period's final minute, fans in attendance have the opportunity to text in a code for a coupon for two free Jack-in-the-Box tacos.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Offseason Changes

The Sharks.  They've made a whole host of changes this summer.  But I refer not solely to the roster additions of Brent Burns, Martin Havlat, Colin White, or Jim Vandermeer, etc.  They've jacked up the price of season tickets by a greater margin than before.  Since the lockout, the price of as season ticket has been steadily climbing by a dollar each year.  The cheapest season ticket last year was $19 per game.  This year, it is $23 per game. $4 per game!  Snap!  The Shark Tank has also gotten a whole new set of boards, replete with clear stanchions and gaudy, electronic advertising boards, with one glaring omission:  Round Table Pizza.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Troubled Sleep

-Chapter One-

     The roar of the crowd was overwhelming.  One almost couldn't hear oneself think.  Of course, the people there weren't accustomed to thinking.  No one in Greater Los Angeles had ever before heard such a noise in the Ducks' home arena.  Most of them had never before been to the Ducks' arena before today, only the gravity of a championship event was too much to resist.  The Stanley Cup was in the building.  And it was about to be awarded.
     Amidst the hysteria, the red carpet unrolled onto the ice like the dog Pluto's cartoon tongue.  White-gloved hands carried the heretofore pristine trophy from the gaping vomitorium to where all the cheering customers could see.  It was the first and last time, most of them knew, that the Stanley Cup would be awarded to a Los Angeles team.
     Chris Pronger watched without listening as the commissioner gave his perfunctory congratulations to the home team.  The six-foot-six defenseman did not let his beady eyes leave the sparkling trophy as the Ducks' captain Scott Niedermeyer hoisted the Cup over his head to applause unprecedented within the marble walls of the Honda Center.  The captain kissed the beloved trophy as he slowly skated the ice and Pronger follwed him, impatiently waiting for his own moment of glory.  Pronger had spit out his mouth guard in the moment of victory; now his teeth ground as he watched Scott Niedermeyer pass the Cup to his brother, Rob Niedermeyer, but Pronger swallowed his words along with chips of his teeth.  Deep down, he knew that he owed the lesser Niedermeyer this moment; hockey's champion defenseman, and the Ducks' captain, had only deigned to sign a contract with this team out of pity for his younger sibling.  It seemed like ages that the Cup was in Rob's hands.  Pronger had waited long enough!  He had waited while they passed out championship baseball caps.  He had waited through the tedious presentation of the MVP award.  He continued to fight the urge to grab his trophy from the little squirt.  He had won it!  It was his!  He knew his own on-ice contributions far outweighed anyone but Scott's and that he had deserved to be second in line for his moment of supreme self-satisfaction.  It wasn't fair!!
     But presently, Pronger's eyes widened with anticipation as he saw the most beautiful trophy in all the world skating toward him, carried by Niedermeyer's brother.  He tried not to look down, fearing vertigo.  The dizziness of disbelief and his own freakish height were taking their effect on him.  His moment had finally come.  Elated, he greedily snatched the proffered trophy from Rob's ourstretched hands.
     The Cup burned his flesh as with cold fire and Pronger only gripped it tighter--tried to steady his hands as the thing which he desired most in the world was finally delivered to him.  He felt the Cup try to slip from his grasp.  The whole moment seamed unreal, like it wasn't supposed to be.  Fifteen and a half kilograms of etched silver seemed feather-weight in his hands.  With one deep breath and the most powerful scream he could muster, Chris Pronger raised hockey's greatest trophy high over his head and, as he slowly lowered it and felt the cold metal touch his chapped lips, he knew he had proven what he had suspected for a long time:
     There was no God.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

George Laraque Describes the Pain of a Goon

"The new problem of the NHL" - The Globe and Mail

George Laraque made his living fighting other goons in the NHL. It was a tough, anxious position to be in, but he doesn't condemn the role. He does, however, call for improved counseling options for players and retirees.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Just Relax.

Everything is being taken care of.  The Defense is solid.  The Forwards will sort themselves out with some experimentation.  September's here.  The players are back on the ice.  The Teal & White game should be in a few weeks.  Then it's pre-season preview hockey and we're off to the races.  Enjoy what sun we have left!  Take a trip to Santa Cruz!  Try not to torture yourself with anticipation!  Hockey is on its way!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Becoming Wild: Episode 4

This is an awesome episode!  I have now officially seen more of Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi as Wild than I ever saw of them as Sharks.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Season Highlights: February 19, 2011

What a night it was, that rainy night in February!  It wasn't the most pleasant of weather that evening and it wasn't the most competitive of games, but it was memorable as Devin Setoguchi's first NHL hat trick and, perhaps, the NHL's first umbrella trick.  Seriously, who throws an umbrella?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Becoming Wild: Episode 3

Heatley and Setoguchi make appearances at the end, shopping for apartments.  Exciting!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sharks Sign Brent Burns to 5-Year Extension

press release @

This is awesome!  When we traded Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle, and a first-round draft pick for this guy in June, he had only one year left on his contract.  For what we gave up to get him, that's not nearly enough.  But now he will be a mainstay of our blueline for a projected 6 years!  Huzzah!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Our Roster's Individuals' Pedigrees

"History of the Sharks Roster" @ Fear the Fin

This is really cool!  Did you know that we got Ryane Clowe as compensation for Jeff Norton?  Or that Thornton came from Craig Janney, Igor Larionov, and Andrei Zyuzin?

Upon first glance, Jamie McGinn has the coolest pedigree. It includes John MacLean, Niko Dimitrakos, the draft pick that became Danny Briere, Pat Falloon, Dody Wood, and Doug Bodger!  Patrick Marleau's is pretty good, too.

A Good Year

The offseason being what it is (boring), I have spent some time reflecting on the past season. It was a good year. In fact, I don't think I'm left feeling bitter about a thing! To begin, the major off-season changes prior to this past season had been all about finding a replacement for Evgeni Nabokov at the goaltending position and Rob Blake as a defensman.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Becoming Wild

Episode Two @ Hockey Wilderness

This is an interesting look into the Minnesota Wild organization in 30 min. episodes. Similar to Oil Change featuring the Edmonton Oilers. Both teams have been in the bottom of the Western Conference for the past few seasons and are relying heavily on the the draft and the development of young players. I find this one slightly more interesting because of 1) the shorter run-time and 2) the imminent introduction of several Sharks players, namely Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi, and Charlie Coyle.

I'm curious to see what use the Wild will make of Charlie Coyle. I don't know how close to the NHL he was in the Sharks franchise, but I'd put money on him being a whole lot closer now! I watched a couple games of the World Juniors and was excited to see him tied for the point-scoring lead on Team U.S.A. The things I hear/read about him are "coaches love him," "you have to kick him out of the weight room," and "you have to chase him off the ice." I was really looking forward to seeing this guy as a Shark one day.

Brent Burns, I really hope you are not a chiseling bastard and you sign with the Sharks before the end of the calendar year. Also for not a ridiculous amount of money.

Doug Wilson, you are The Man. I have all the faith in the world you will bitch slap Burns' agent and make him eat his own cell phone.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Something Is Seriously, Seriously Wrong Here

How in the name of Bettman's butthole did Marvel manage to make the Duck a cooler superhero than the Shark?  That is complete horseshit!  That is a total perversion of the natural order of things!  Sharks are unarguably right there with eagles and dragons as some of the coolest animals, bar none.  And sharks have been that cool for over 420 million years!*  Ducks are quite possibly the least intimidating creatures in the world.  What happened?  How did the Shark end up becoming some webbed-handed, awkward-looking man-shark thing with a dorsal fin sticking out of its head?  It makes him look like some kind of angy, 'roided-out hadrasaur.