Kukla's Korner

Petshark: Talking Stick

The unforgiving minute

Well that was demoralizing.  I’ll just open another beer and try not to think too hard about the Canucks winning twice in a row, in my sight, this time against the Sharks.  Booooo.

In less than a minute, the Canucks @ Sharks game went from wonderfully tied with a goal from the Sharks’ 4th line to a stifling 2 goal lead for the Canucks. In such cases, a fan should close her eyes and think of… somewhere else.

I started the night with my ear to a horse’s stomach, listening for sounds.  I could hear sounds, I didn’t need a stethoscope.  There were lots of gurgles and bubbling sounds in there.  Stethoscopes don’t help.  I can hear all the good sounds with my bare ear, stethoscopes amplify extra noise that is hardly ever what I need to hear.

No idea what is wrong with the horse, we’ve examined him every which way, inside and out, and can’t find the problem.  He keeps having these episodes of listless malfunction.  It’s not like he’s terminal, he’s just not right.

Oh dear.  I started writing this with about 4 minutes left in the game, the Sharks down 3-1.  I was thinking vaguely that if the Sharks got another goal, that one off of Murray at the beginning would really sting.  And there it is.  Ouch.

It’s not clear what is wrong.  Probably something somewhere slowed down at the wrong time, and that put too much stress on something else, which caused a flare up somewhere else and finally the whole system appears sluggish and dull.  It isn’t quite a crisis, nothing you can put your finger on. Everything is sort of working, but only almost right.  I’m still talking about the horse, not the Sharks.

For me it was a particularly horrible hockey day.  My other teams lost early in the day, and then San Jose.  The one little bright spot was Leighton’s AHL team squeaking out a win.  That was something, but it isn’t the same without a shutout.  This is the problem with following more teams than one.  It’s like having more than one dog so when one dies you have others in place to make you feel better.  The drawback is if they all gorge on the same box of poisoned chocolates, and all die at once, the sadness is multiplied accordingly.  (No, I’ve never had that happen but I suppose it could.)

There’s Andrew Murray being interviewed.  Has he ever been in the post-game before?  It’s a shame he got his first goal as a Shark in a loss to the Canucks.

This morning I felt jubilant over being able to notice something about hockey hands.  I understood in theory that some players have better hands than others, and you can tell from the results which ones have the good ones, but only this morning did I actually see how this works.  It’s the same principle as riding: more wrist and fingers, less fist and arm.

It helps to have extreme cases to study.  In this case it was Havlat whose hands I noticed, the fluid movement of wrist and stick jumping out at me like someone had zoomed the camera in on it.  I watched that for a while, then watched someone else to verify my observations.  I won’t mention who I used as a baseline because that would be unflattering.  It’s hardly insulting to say he did not have hands as soft as Havlat’s but there’s no reason to name names.

Now McLellan is talking.  I’m not sure that was the best game in the last five but I’ve been drinking so maybe I was missing something.

It took a long time for me to see hands.  I had to filter out all the other noise and distractions of a regular practice to finally see it.  That took practice, lots of practices, like learning to hear through a stethoscope I guess.

What I saw reminded me of a quick and dirty explanation I might give in a riding lesson:  soft hands start at the bottom of your foot and run all the way to the tips of your fingers, no time to take a detour and ask the brain what to do next.  Less quickly: “Develop a lot more strength in your inner thighs, so you can keep your knees in place, so you can steady your lower leg and keep your feet still and then develop a whole lot more core strength than most people have walking around, so you can keep your arms steady, so we can work on those hands that are bouncing around banging on the horse’s mouth and driving him nuts…. I hope we can do all this before he bucks you off.”

A novice observer like myself needs an extreme example to clarify the matter, and Havlat qualifies as an extreme example.  Coincidentally, hands were one of the things that made a strong impression on me when I taught in the Czech Republic a long time ago.  I noticed those hands for different reasons: lots of scars and bumps from late night home improvement and repair, unusual for young high school teachers here.  I guess Czech hands are a theme for me.

They might not have been if a man on a train back then had not gone to some lengths to talk to me about my hands.  It took me a long time to believe I was understanding what he was saying (in Czech) because it seemed like a really weird thing to say to a stranger on a train.  Maybe I caught the hand thing from him.

Really?  That was the best the Sharks have played in the last five games?  Really?  I’m going to have to watch a lot more games to be able to see that.

At least the horse is fine.

Filed in: hockey, , San Jose Sharks, | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
  Tags: andrew+murray, czech+hands, martin+havlat, soft+hands

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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