Kukla's Korner

Petshark: Talking Stick

Win for the road

In just over an hour, the Sharks will hit the ice for their first of nine road games.  That’s a long road trip, even for a team used to a lot of travel.  McLellan says he doesn’t put much stock in the theory of road trip bonding, but he does see the benefits of getting away from the distractions of home life:

“Some of the players will get more rest on the road,” McLellan said, “maybe get an afternoon nap when the little ones aren’t jumping on you. The family activities obviously don’t exist on the road, so there is a chance to get a little more rest for some of them.” -Mercury News

That’s why people go on vacation or work retreats, to get away, be in the moment instead of the past and future and all the things other people need from them.  Maybe I need to get away again, my brain is flying in six different directions right now, only a few of which have anything to do with hockey.  At least a few of them do.

Like, why does Nabby seem to be playing better against teams with goalies he faced in the Western Conference?  Quick, Bryzgalov, Anderson… Am I imagining that?  Or the Coyotes, will they trade anyone now that they’re back in the playoff picture?  Tenacious devils.  Or those Blue Jackets, I can’t stop thinking about Pollak suggesting that Umberger or Prospal might be nice additions for the Sharks.  Discovering that Prospal is a Czech Aquarius I have all but set my heart on it.  The team could use another air sign. 34 points with this season’s Blue Jackets doesn’t hurt either.  But I have a terrible record when it comes to predicting what Doug Wilson will do.

The Wild waived Ortmeyer and Staubitz, within days of each other. I noticed that.  They lost to the Blue Jackets last night. I think they deserved it, because I hold grudges about the tiniest things.

There’s this Sharks game tonight.  Thinking about that would be a good idea.  Pollak says Vandermeer skated on the fourth line again this morning.  He didn’t mention who did not skate there, unless he meant Ferriero, who hasn’t been on the fourth line much anyway.

Last night the Sharks coaching staff watched the Blues game from the press box.  McLellan commented on that perspective:

“Now I know how easy it is from up there,” he said, offering the same thought that various players have when they’ve been up in the rafter with us. “It’s so damn slow. I caught myself going, ‘Why did he do that? Why did they do this?’ -Working the Corners

I wanted to add to that: video is slower still.  Those of us watching the game on tv, even without the replays and highlights to light up the details, even without those things, the players appear to move more slowly than they are really moving.

McLellan went on with a touch of poetry:

When you’re at ice level, of course it’s much faster, but you’ve also got to look through the trees. When you’re up there, you’re looking down on the forest. It’s way easier to play from up there…” -Working the Corners

Gotta quote and re-quote a coach being poetic.  Much gratitude to David Pollak for getting that out there for us.

Wow.  Nabby has let in four goals in two periods.  This does not contradict my wacko theory about a touch of the grudge match tainting his game.  Theodore has mostly been in the Eastern Conference.  Well, there was that stint in Colorado. Maybe I am imagining things.  Nabby’s out.  I no longer care who wins this game.

“Win for the road”?  What does that mean?  What was I thinking when I started writing this?  Oh, right, the win, that beautiful imperfect win against the Blackhawks.  That win with the crazy middle period, shoehorned in there like a last minute suspense scene added to the script.  Like someone said “wait, we can’t just have them run away with this, there has to be an obstacle or something.  Have someone fall down for no reason.”  So the Blackhawks with their beleaguered defense, as formidable as a toothless one-legged medium-sized attack sloth, held the Sharks to three shots on goal.  If that isn’t falling down for no reason I don’t know what is.  It did at least make the defenseless Blackhawks seem like a more worthy adversary.  Manufactured suspense?  Check.

Why does it matter, beating the struggling befuddled Blackhawks?  Winning one for the road is a good idea in general. It is two points to end the homestand.  It’s also the Blackhawks.  Whether or not the 2010 roster has been purged, whether or not they’ve had a fair to good season since then, they are still nominally the team that swept the Sharks out of the playoffs the week my dog died.  So they can lose forever more and I will be gleeful when the Sharks beat them.  Beating them will always be a little extra good.

It isn’t the Blackhawks tonight, it’s the Blues, and they are more formidable in every way this season.  Brian Elliott, it turns out, really is a very good goalie.  I guess he wasn’t just made to look good as others have been by the Sharks.  That other guy, sometimes he plays pretty well too.  Halak is absolutely capable of stealing of a game.  So I don’t think it matters who starts tonight.  For the Sharks, it’s Niemi.  No surprise there.

The Blues have a lot of stats to give an opponent pause. Check out Darrin Stephens’  Twitter feed for a bunch. This one was the most daunting to me:

@SharksStats: St. Louis Blues last home loss in regulation: Dec. 3 vs Blackhawks (also Chicago’s last regulation road win). Blues 14-0-3 at home since.

Yikes.  No point scaring myself by dwelling on those things.  Stats are well and good but every game is a new game, zeros tend to vanish, etc etc.

Wingels and Demers are both on the trip, Demers even skating again.  That they’re with the team doesn’t mean as much as it would for a short trip, but it is a good sign.  Even if neither plays until the end of the trip, it’s a timeline of sorts.  That’s progress.

Tonight they will watch the game, the slow-motion version seen from the press box, only a little faster than what we’ll see from home.  Here’s hoping they see a lot of good things from their team.

Go Sharks!

Filed in: , San Jose Sharks, | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, jason+demers, jim+vandermeer, road+trip, st+louis+blues, tommy+wingels

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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