Kukla's Korner

Petshark: Talking Stick

The toughest game: those wily Coyotes strike again

It was said on Twitter. McLellan was quoted saying it on Working the Corners and in Kurz’s CSN blog. It was discussed during the pregame show.  It was the big story before Saturday’s game in the mostly empty Jobing.com arena: how very dangerous, unpredictable, hungry and possibly tough to play against the Phoenix Coyotes would be.  What were they thinking?  Here’s what I was thinking:

I didn’t get it.  Why would the Coyotes be more frantic than Dallas?  Isn’t that losing streak they’ve been on an indication that they are not playing well?  Was everyone trying to say the Coyotes have the Sharks’ number? 

If that’s the case, I thought, it’s a very bad sign for the Sharks.  I hoped fervently that it was all a bunch of manufactured drama, like the endless euphemism-filled discussion of where Niemi was hit by that puck, why he missed the last game.  I’m still not clear.  As Brodie pointed out during the pregame show, women don’t understand these things.  Someone will have to be more specific.

Since it is such an awfully important story as to repeat it over and over without actually saying what they mean, someone needs to tell us:  was he hit in the testicles or the penis, or both?  Women need to know too, we wonder “will he still be able to have children?” Cuz that’s the kind of stuff we worry about, being females and all, especially when you keep talking about that injury which cannot be named.

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe how formidable the Phoenix Coyotes are was only the second biggest story before this game.

There was some discussion about whether it qualifies as a lower body injury or a special “mid-body” injury. I believe the line is drawn at the waist, unless it’s been gerrymandered to allow for importance as well as anatomical location of body parts.  So that would be lower body.  Let that be the end of it.

Mark Emmons tweeted that Raffi Torres is playing for the Yotes now. I’m not sure why he tweeted that, maybe because he knows Sharks fans love Torres.  Evidently that piece of nastiness didn’t warrant playing Vandermeer again, so Ferriero was in.  Or maybe the Vandermeer as a winger experiment has come to an end?  I hope so.  There’s probably a reason he’s been a defenseman all these years.

The first half of the first period progressed uneventfully, with the Coyotes getting too much time in the Sharks’ zone (any time is too much).  This lack of dominance from the Sharks made the dogs nervous.  You should not allow coyotes anywhere near your territory.  You should chase them far, far away.  Even my Labs know this. You don’t need to be a pit bull.  You just need to go after them with conviction, let them know you’re serious, and they will scamper off like the nasty little scroungers they are.  The dogs both wanted to be on the couch.  I let them be.

After Braun almost kicked the puck into his own net, Marleau jumped off the couch and left the room.  It was too much for him.

As the period wound down, the Sharks started to look less like sharks and more like goldfish in a pond, with a coyote splashing around snapping at them.

That was a matter of perspective though, an impression born of the expectation that the Sharks would be the ones sending the Coyotes scrambling.  The Sharks handled the late period penalty kill pretty well.  It wasn’t what you’d call military precision but I’d be willing to say it was managed with guerrilla agility and persistence.  Nice save Douglas Murray!  Winchester’s help wasn’t bad either there, before the pk.  That corner of the net looks like a weak spot tonight, an injured target for the Yotes to gnaw away at.  I wonder how long the skaters can keep covering it up?

At some point, talking about how good your opponent is can get in your head.  I hope that hasn’t happened to the Sharks, here, tonight. 

I get the news that Worcester won 4-2.  Hurray!  Sateri was in net for the second time in as many days and games.  The not playing of Nitty is starting to get ugly.  What in the hell is going on there?

I get distracted by Twitter near the end of the first intermission and look up after they’ve been playing for a few minutes.  I notice the Sharks have been in the Coyotes’ zone for a while. They look very busy.  I think “this is better…” and Couture scores.  This makes me glad. 

Then, as if the Sharks want to give their opponent a turn, play moves back up the ice and the Coyotes score too. 

Sigh.  The dogs return but don’t get on the couch.

When the Coyotes’ goal howl goes off again, both dogs look up and around the room. They know that’s a bad sound. 

Even when the Sharks get a power play, I am so suspicious that I want to crawl under a blanket. I do so.  The first power play unit sort of fiddles around a bit, then, while Drew is talking about how the power play needs “polish,” the second unit, including McGinn, comes out and shows us how it’s done.  A power play goal for McGinn! That gets my ears up again.

I’m about to crawl back under the blanket because the ensuing even strength play is not inspiring, but Thornton manages a nice little fly by deflection from Boyle I think.  That could have gone in.  That was almost very nice.

Then Marleau takes a penalty.  This makes me very very nervous. A penalty kill without Marleau?  Oh dear oh dear oh dear.  All that lower line guys taking up the slack stuff.. now would be a good time for that.

The penalty kill works out okay but… I decide to spend some more time hiding under the blanket. I wonder why I haven’t opened a beer yet.  I wonder why I am still drinking coffee.  Doesn’t coffee amplify pain?

So does watching your team stumble along without conviction.

During the 3rd intermission I decide it could be worse.  They could be down 6-0.  Darla decides she’s going to be hopeful too and climbs up on the couch. 

I wonder briefly what it would be like to have other people want to watch the game with me, instead of just rolling their eyes and saying “isn’t that game over yet?”  I imagine there would be less room on the couch.  I’m supposed to join some of those people for dinner but… no one has specifically come to get me so…

Come on Sharks, win this already!

The Sharks get another chance on the power play thanks to Desjardins getting himself tripped.  It doesn’t go so well as the last one.  The puck does seem to be bouncing.

Those people I mentioned, family members, do show up and ask if I want to go to a movie.  I explain the game is going on, ask if we could discuss it later.  They leave in time for Burns to be used as a bumper for goal number four.  I wonder if that qualifies as bad positioning, the whole knocking pucks into your own net thing?  Hard to call the first one that, he was sliding on his stomach, not really “positioned” in one place.

The night is not going well.  I do notice that none of the Coyotes’ goals have been scored in that corner of the net that was such a problem in the first period.  That seems ironic.

The Sharks have to kill a penalty, this time Pavelski’s. Why are the best penalty killers taking penalties?  This is awful.

Actually, it isn’t that awful, I hesitate to say before the pk is over… it seems to be going okay… it goes.

The Sharks have five minutes left and need at least two goals.  It’s just like another game I watched today. That one ended 6-4. Then I worry if thinking about that is some sort of a jinx.

This is not the kind of game that makes a fan feel secure and happy.  This is a high-superstition game, if you don’t give in to complete despair. 

It’s nice that Smith got a starting spot on a team.  He’s a good egg, as far as I know. The Goalie Guild once tweeted that Smith is almost the same height and weight as Bryzgalov, as if perhaps the Coyotes signed Smith because he could wear the same pads or something, save some cash. 

Those minutes tick down… down… down… Smith fits nicely in his crease, not leaving a lot of room.  Drew points out that Smith considered scoring in the Sharks’ empty net.  Smith likes to move the puck. Smith also likes to go out behind his net and get in a skaters’ way.  He’s a man of many talents.  All my praise for him comes to naught.  (That’s another one of my superstitions: praise the other team’s goalie.  It usually only works to prevent a shutout but it was worth a try.)

Smith tries to score, doesn’t, but neither do the Sharks.  That is that.

Or so I thought.  Whenever a team needs a last second goal, I think “they need Marleau.”  He does that kind of stuff. But it’s still 4-3 with only 30 seconds to go.  So that is that.  An empty net goal makes it a two goal game again. 

Superstitious as I am, I will not take any blame here.  5-3 is nothing like 6-4.  Nothing.

Filed in: , San Jose Sharks, | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
  Tags: antti+niemi, brent+burns, csn+ca, jamie+mcginn, labradors, logan+couture, mike+smith, patrick+marleau, phoenix+coyotes

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Ur weird

Posted by Nate on 02/05/12 at 02:40 PM ET

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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 talkingstick@petshark.net