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!