Petshark: Talking Stick
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.”
Last night, the California NHL teams with new coaches faced off. The game went to a shootout. I think this could be good news for Sharks fans, because unless both the Kings and the Ducks have already made enormous strides with their new coaches, it looks like they are not much changed from the state of terrible that got their previous coaches fired. I don’t know how many people expected dramatic improvement, especially from the Kings since their new coach just arrived the day before. Coaches aside, these are mostly the same teams that suddenly failed to perform for coaches they did pretty well with last season.
I am not above wanting our team’s opponents to play badly. Hockey players may be proud enough to prefer to win a good game instead of an uneven one, but I don’t have any compunctions about being greedy for points no matter who the Sharks get them from. What about that idea that the Sharks play better against tougher opponents? Throw it out. What about the fact that the Sharks played better on the road? Toss it. What about the Sharks playing better in the [fill in the blank] period and falling down in the others? Forget it. Starting from zero is the best approach after a gluttonous victory like we saw Wednesday. That game against Tampa Bay broke with all the Sharks’ trends this season, including being the fourth home win in a row.
Martin Havlat is out of the Sharks lineup, no one knows for how long:
@markedwinemmons: “Todd McLellan said don’t expect to see Marty Havlat back until at least after Christmas. That means at least two games out.”
@KKurzCSN: “Havlat out at least through this weekend. Surgery? “At this point, not that I know of,” said McLellan.”
So Benn Obi-Wan Ferriero is back, just in time for the holiday roster freeze. If he plays one more NHL game he loses his waiver exempt status. Isn’t it time anyway? The Sharks could have called up Wingels if they wanted to use someone who could be sent back safely. The curious case of Benn Ferriero might be close to resolution.
Will he stay for an extended period? Get traded? Sent back down? Would he clear waivers? Doug Wilson didn’t comment on the long term plan for Ferriero, why would he? There are many possibilities. NHL rosters have to function as on multiple timelines, in several alternate universes. In one universe, Ferriero is in Carolina, in another he’s right here on San Jose’s third line, in another he’s back in Worcester, and then there’s the universe populated entirely by shrimp where he has to work as a salt water filtration technician.
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