Petshark: Talking Stick
My brother is going to be a father. He and his wife told me the other day that they had decided they would encourage the boy (yes, they know it will be a boy) to play hockey. Neither parent has much interest in the sport. I think it was a gesture to include me in the care of the child. I am touched that they are so quick to hand their first born over to me, but my initial reaction was “really? I would be afraid to encourage my kid to play hockey.”
I’m a worry wart. I would have the kid ride horses, because even though more people get head injuries riding horses than doing anything else, I know how to do it right, it would be safe if I were in charge. Right.
Anyway, when I expressed my concerns about the safety of the unborn person (hey, they’re planning his sports activities, I’m not the only crazy person here), my brother said “really? But hockey isn’t dangerous, they’re all padded, it’s not like football.”
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The Caps came to San Jose, gave Sharks fans a great game to watch, and brought Stephen Whyno from The Washington Times with them. Well, the Caps didn’t bring him but that’s why he was here. He promptly wrote a story about Douglas Murray and his approach to hitting, under new rules and old. Murray followed that up with a demonstration, during the game. For anyone bothered by said demonstration, there’s a Twitter hashtag: #blameWhyno.
A few good things happened this weekend in my hockey book, along with the above-mentioned marvelous Sharks demonstration of why the Capitals will never win here. Sharks have been winning. Flyers winning too. Leighton won in the AHL outdoor game. Yes, I’m an unabashed Leighton fan. I am strange, perhaps, or just loyal to a fault. Whatever. The Phantoms won 4-3 in OT, not a splendid win for a goalie, but hey, a win’s a win, most of the time.
James Sheppard on the ice this morning:
David Pollak: “Long-awaited James Sheppard update: Practiced today w/ #sjsharks teammates, knee feels good and a March 1 target date for game action.”
Also on the ice: 19, 88, 61, 30, 1, 69, 57, 2, 78, 17, 28, 64, 68, 39, 26, 10, 60, 31.
Not yet: 29, 12, 22, 3, 8, 44.
88 hootin’ & hollerin’ over a goal. No need to point out who he scored on.
There’s 12 now. And 8, and 29.
Now Todd McLellan. Well that is interesting. Looks like a not very optional skate today.
I’m always happy to see more than ten players show up for optional skates, when they’re really truly optional. I don’t mean I think badly of the ones that aren’t there, I just mean the appearance of working away industriously is a good thing to see.
Oh! There’s Pic… I mean 44.
After sleeping on it and reading Sharks game recaps, I realized that there were a lot of good things about last night’s game against the Ducks. Things like allowing no shots on goal during penalty kills. Things like out shooting and out scoring the other guys, blocking a lot of shots. Burns coming back after blocking a shot with his hand, and, apparently, Demers feeling okay. These are all very good as karmic signs go, no matter who the other guys are.
Like the Blue Jackets. They’re sharing a nest at the bottom of the standings with the Ducks. Unlike the Ducks, they haven’t had a single good spell this season. They started out losing and injured, they are still losing. Maybe I’m being generous when I say the Ducks had a good spell. They won four in a row at the start of the season and since then have only won six more. The Blue Jackets, however,only won their first game after losing their first eight. It was a race to get a win in before November.
That tweeted reaction to Wednesday’s win courtesy of the tweeter known as @TeamNiemiClowe. I may have left out some exclamation points. I try to stay positive, I wish I had the cheerleader mentality some have attributed to me, but when I saw that tweet I thought “really? Has it come to this? Shouldn’t beating the Ducks be less of a big deal?” I am in the clutches of the dark side, the angry CB cackling in my head. During the game, I took it out on the number three:
Numbers more important than 3:
- First two goals scored by #10.
- First period ended with score at 1-0, which neither contains nor is divisible by three.
- 2 Sharks goals scored 22 seconds apart, by guys with names that start with B and have 4 letters: Brad and Benn. There’s no “b” in three.
Three games against the Canucks, three ending 3-2. In fact, the Sharks’ last three games against anyone ended 3-2. Last night, the Sharks avoided losing three games in a row, or three to the Canucks. Thornton was guilty of three turnovers. The game produced three points, one for the Canucks, two for the Sharks. The Sharks practiced three times between games against the Canucks. I haven’t counted how many times Nemo taps the posts with his stick between shootout rounds, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s three.
All right, Sharks. FINE, you really like your threes, I get it. I’ll try not to say things to belittle or mock your faith. I still think it would be better if…. Oh, never mind. Bleeding cultists.
I don’t mind being wrong when it means the team wins. I take absolutely no joy in being right when it means the team loses. I wasn’t sure the Sharks would lose to the Canucks last night, but I was really very certain it would not end 3-2. Whatev.
Friday the Sharks had a long practice, were on the ice for about 90 minutes. They seemed to be working on the power play in particular. Nitty and Greiss shared one net, Nemo had the other.
Someone yelled “*#$%@&!” but I was looking the wrong way to know who it was. I think maybe it was Greiss because there was a puck in his net, but it didn’t exactly sound like him. Then again, I don’t hear him yelling anything a lot out there so I couldn’t be sure. I don’t think the children heard it.
Seeing Boyle looking well and playing well made me glad, a reassuring feeling like when you have a paycheck in your pocket or a full tank of gas. Everything felt okay.
Well that was a strange thing to be thinking, what with the Sharks having lost those two games, those two terribly important games to end the home stand. It should feel like being on the losing side at the Alamo, not reassuring at all. But it didn’t, it didn’t feel like the last stand before the end of the world as we know it.
We thought The Big Three was thing of the past, to be contemplated only to the tune of Auld Lang Syne: Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley playing on the same line. Apparently, the number three never dies. It is as big today as ever it was:
“We have to have the understanding that three is a very important number for us. Three is the be-all and end-all,” McLellan said. “It’s either hurting us when we give up three or helping us when we score three.” -Working the Corners
Like a holy trinity, three goals are the secret to everything: “the first to three,” “a 3-2 league,” “the most dangerous lead.” Well, that last one is pretty old. I like it because it illustrates my reason for being highly suspicious of any psychological or predictive theory that turns a number into a grail: you get ahead by three and you get sloppy. It’s hogwash, of course. A team can fall apart or get it together at any time, but people take it into their heads and their hearts and give it power.
Thanks to a special shark fin turnover recipe, the Ducks came back to life and won a road game. It was a Boxing Day miracle, possibly the first on record:
@PollakOnSharks: “Perspective: Ducks have won 10 of 35 games this season, three against #sjsharks. Of only three Anaheim road wins, two are at HP Pavilion.”
Ugh. What more can I say? There was Colin White’s disappearance. He played a little over 8 minutes, and not at all in the third. That bodes ill. Who would have guessed the Sharks would need more than eight defensemen? Beyond that, let me refer you to Fear the Fin, Working the Corners, and Sharks Talk for all the gory details of how the Sharks lost yet again to the Ducks.
The sidebar story to the Sharks losing is that someone brought a dead duck into the Tank, held onto it through two periods and two intermissions, and threw it on the ice during the third. Eeeee-yuck.
Niemi will start for the Sharks tonight, Greiss will backup again. Aside from distracting us from the usual question about who will start, the answer to “who will backup?” doesn’t really tell us a lot. Which goalie will they move? Based on who sits on the bench, you could argue either way.
Douglas Murray and Jim Vandermeer are still out. It goes without saying, but I don’t want to forget about him: Martin Havlat is out too, as he will be for a long while. According to Kevin Kurz, the lines looked unchanged from the last game at the Sharks’ morning skate.
That skate was a long one, according to tweets from Brodie Brazil.
@brodiebrazilCSN: Boyle on #sjsharks long skate today: “trying to get our mindset back into the game and not in the clouds and Christmas presents, and stuff.”
About Petshark: Talking Stick
Native of Northern California. Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.
I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle. I watch, I react, I write it down.
My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked. I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind. When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom. It hasn't, I don't think it will. At all.
Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.
I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.
I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org