A Little Ditty About Shorties, Newbies and Breaking Things.

I will not gloat…I refuse to do so. While a win is very satisfying (very very satisfying) its usually only a goal or two away from a loss…(unless you’re the Flyers, in which case its more like 5 or 6 goals away from a loss) and its always a good idea to remember – for every “up” there is a equally as dramatic “down” that is just waiting in the wings…

That being said…I think its important to realize here that the Penguins battled their little diving hearts out (sorry I had to) for the Stanley Cup itself only a short 5 months ago…what I want to know is, what happened during those 5 months? Did the team hang out at Chuck E. Cheese instead of going to the gym? Did they follow Hannah Montana on tour instead of attending Training Camp? I do not have the answers to these questions…but I do know, the team that played tonight against the Sharks at HP Pavilion probably would have lost a battle for a Dixie Cup.

Now, like I said, I’m not gloating…in fact its quite the opposite – I’m sitting here wondering what the Pens were doing/thinking all night. I was really looking forward to a hard fought, rough and tumble game…instead this is what we got:

Shelley and Goddard doing the waltz… Well, thats what it looked like anyway. I think Jody was even disappointed with the lack of “fight” that Goddard put up. Maybe that Jody Shelley Halloween video opener really scared him…I don’t know.

Pavs picking up a Shorty…and no I’m not talking a “ghetto booty girl”…but really, is there anything better…anything, than scoring shorthanded? If you’re asking me (and I think you are) then I’m going to answer that “No!”. There is nothing better than scoring shorthanded (ask Jeff Carter or Patty Marleau)…especially when its your team’s fifth of the season so far. And don’t forget – but if you already did, I’m going to say it again – Joe Pavelski is going to have a stellar season. Mark. My. Words. I was really waiting for Milan Michalek to score the big one tonight as he had sooo many chances…but try as he might he just couldn’t do it…let it be said though, Milan was the one who initiated the breakaway on the shorthanded goal. Pavs simply put it away after the rebound…hey – gotta give props where props be needed. Speaking of props…

A Baby Shark Making His NHL Debut…well I hate to say “baby” Shark, but regardless, Jamie McGinn was recalled from Worcester and played his very first NHL game tonight and in my opinion, held his own with the best of them. He stayed on the puck, kept the puck in the offensive zone and wasn’t afraid to get in the corners. There were a few times I thought for sure he was primed for an assist as he did well passing and setting up the puck. But depending upon how long McLellan keeps him around, I definitely see much more coming from McGinn…I for one, cheered every time he stepped onto the ice. Stay tuned for more on that next week.

Sharks Break a Record…ok, so when I said I wouldn’t gloat I meant it…save this one little tidbit…a record was broken tonight…and given the team that it was broken against, I feel quite proud right about now. Tonight we broke a franchise record of least amount of shots on goal allowed in a single game. Final SOG tally – Sharks 34, Pens 11. And now while I know that SOG is sometimes a misleading statistic, the fact that the Pens only got 11 shots off speaks volumes about both teams on the ice tonight…the Sharks defense system is up and running again…quite the well-oiled machine I might add…and the Pens offensive line (arguably one of the best in the league) is seriously missing something. Yeah, I know all about “players being hurt” but you’ve got to work through it. It can’t be an excuse. Not for the Pens…the Lightning maybe, but not the Pens…but hey, at least the Lightning won right?

Also, the Sharks are 13-0-1 at home since Valentines day this past year and 5-0-0 at home, this season so far…an impressive statistic that I believe says a lot about the atmosphere at the Tank.

So the gloating wasn’t that bad, was it? There were tons of other things I could be writing here as well…like how JennaTee is a BAMF to the 33rd degree (yes, I threw that in there for our beloved and grouchy little back up boy) and how I met yet another amazing Connector tonight and how I’ve never heard a crowd boo like the boo’s I heard when Sid cried his little eyes out all the way to the sin bin…

But no, I’m not, nor will I ever gloat…not my style.

Anyway, stay tuned for next week’s AHL REPORT blog, as I will be traveling all the way to see our AHL Affiliate team the Worcester Sharks play the Manchester Monarchs on Saturday the 1st. It will be a blast and I can’t wait (although I’m sure you all can) to introduce you to the boys…

I’m sorry, did this blog come off gloat-esque?


What Happens When The East Coast Boys Come Out West

This is going to be a tough one to write about. I had been waiting the entire off season for this game. As of Thursday morning we weren’t even going to be in town for this game which honestly broke my heart. I was supposed to be at Yosemite…enjoying a relaxing weekend of watching my back for bears and dodging annoying tourists. But my luck turned as we found out that the family friends we were supposed to be staying with had an emergency and we were off the hook.

But in the end, it worked out (for us anyway) because we got to go to the game. We got tickets in the lower bowl…and I was so psyched to get my butt to the tank. Like I said before, I had been waiting the entire off season for this game. You may ask, Why Teal? Why this game? Let me enlighten you…

You see, we all have those teams that we secretly love. I don’t care who you are, what team you support – you’ve got a crush on another team. We all do. Trust me.

For those of you who do not know, for me that team is the Flyers. Through the playoffs and into the off season I learned a lot about the team and with the help of a few of the Flyers faithful here on Connect I’ve come to realize that they’ve got a lot to offer. I appreciate the talent they possess, as well as the work ethic and character of the guys themselves and they’ve got two amazing goaltenders who the fans absolutely adore…

Needless to say I knew it would be a great game to go to…but I noticed something I didn’t expect.

I didn’t expect there to be such a presence of Flyers fans…especially not 3,000 miles away from their team’s home city. But despite the fact that most Sharks fans got their cages rattled every time the Flyers scored (and their fans chirped accordingly) I loved it. It was all in good fun and I could only imagine how good it feels to be a fan of the visiting team when your boys score…pretty good for the ego, eh? Besides, the cheers from the fans in orange sounded like elevator music compared to the explosion in the tank when the Sharks found the net…but like I’ve heard many times before, the Tank is a tough place for other teams to play in…hmmm, I wonder why…

It was pretty amazing to see Biron and Niittymaki up close and personal, as well as the rest of the boys. I do have to say, Upshall and Richards are MUCH better in person than in pictures…I’m just sayin.

After the Sharks game in Anaheim on Friday night, I was a little apprehensive about how Saturday night’s game would play out. If these “new” Sharks were anything like ye olde Sharks, it didn’t bode well for them. Also, this was our first game against an Eastern Conference team…it certainly would prove to be interesting if nothing else.

I guess I just wasn’t prepared for exactly how interesting it would be.
When the puck dropped it was like the Flyers were shot out of a cannon. Their speed was incredible and their physical play was unexpected to say the least. They brought so much intensity to San Jose…it was nice to see. Given their current record, you could definitely tell they wanted it. You could see the hunger in every guy wearing a Flyers jersey…fans included.

If you didn’t know that the Flyers hadn’t won a game yet, you certainly wouldn’t be able to tell from last night’s performance. They played like a team that had their stuff together. All of their lines really seemed to gel, Danny Briere was on his game again, their forecheck was large and in charge, their penalty kill (unfortunately for us) was great and their goaltending was, well…if you don’t know by now then you better just see your way out of this blog.

The energy and intensity could also be seen in the penalties that were taken and the gloves that were dropped. I loved seeing how scrappy both teams were with each other. Being as we generally don’t get to see their beautiful faces that often, it was good to see our boys pound them the first chance we got.

As for my boys in teal, what can I say? Our D scored 2 out of 5 goals last night…which is an incredible feat in my opinion. After Braydon Coburn’s goal early in the second, Ehrhoff came up huge with a amazing goal…our first of the night…Ehrhoff has come a long way from last season (thank goodness) and believe me when I say, it is a welcome change for this team. Then Jeff Carter got a shortie on our power play which surprised even Nabby I’m sure. We were down by a two goal deficit…then at the end of the second, a screen was set up and Cheechoo put one up on the scoreboard for us with an amazing tip-in during a power play. Pavelski evened things up in the third and then Setoguchi proved he is really stepping up his game and playing hard with the big boys. He came through for us in the third with a goal so beautiful it should be framed and placed in the Thomas Kincade Archives in Monterey.

And do I really need to say anything about Dan Boyle? We were in need of offensive defensemen and he certainly does the job. Not only is he a great addition to our Defense but he and Rob Blake have also improved our entire defensive line, and combined with McLellan pushing for more shots from the blue line – our D is becoming a force to be reckoned with.

I do think that defense was a little more concerned with scoring than blocking shots last night. They let too many shots get to Nabby…shots that may have been few and far between but they were powerful…and four of them saw the back of our net.

The one thing I keep hearing over and over again is how the Sharks out shot the Flyers 45-17. While to our credit, the Sharks absolutely fantastic taking shots at the net, everyone seems fixated on discrediting the Flyers on their low SOGs…to that let me just say this – at one point in the 2nd period, I looked up at our shots on goal…the Flyers only had nine…but out of those nine, three found the back of the net, so really, what does that say about this team??

I think everyone (Sharks fans included) were impressed with how the Flyers played here last night. I don’t think we expected that much speed and intensity..and I know we definitely didn’t expect Niittymaki to be so stellar.

While my Sharks were absolutely outstanding on Saturday night, at times I certainly felt that this game easily could have gone the other way. The Flyers played like a winning team…and I think in their hearts they did think that they were that winning team. You Flyers fans have a lot to be proud of with these guys. They have a lot of success waiting for them this season…just as my Sharks do. I think this season is going to show us some unlikely heroes…and I can’t wait to meet them.

This is the reason I was so distracted during the game…

When we got home last night I asked my husband if it was ok that I loved Marty Biron more than him and he said yes. So I’m good…


Its Like I've Waited My Whole Life...For This One Night...

So this is my “home opener” blog…hopefully it won’t be a homer blog.
I wanted to write this a while ago but decided to wait…I wanted to wait because there still were a few teams (and fans) who hadn’t experienced their home opener yet…and quite frankly I like hearing about everyone else’s experiences more than anything.

But here it is…my first home opener.

We were lucky. We were one of three teams who hosted their home opener on Thursday October 9th…the first day of regular season hockey on North American soil. So in a way, the 17,496 of us helped ring in the new season, not only for the Sharks but for the entire league.

So what better a way to celebrate the night than a pre-game street rally? A little beer for charity, free ice cream and some great hockey…who could ask for anything more?? Really!

Playstation had consoles and TV’s set up, Best Buy was handing out Geek Squad t-shirts, Dave and Busters was giving out free t-shirts and power cards, TOGO’s was passing around vouchers for free sandwiches, Barracuda had a “Puck the Ducks” table set up (best idea yet)

and there was a dunk tank in which an unlucky volunteer donning a Ducks Jersey sat beside a sign reading “Dunk the Anaheim Ducks”.

All in all it was a huge party. We left with more free stuff than we’ll ever find use for but it was truly a great time.

The Home Opener was also a mystery puck night. For those of you who may not know, this is when you purchase a wrapped puck for $20 (which goes to the Sharks Foundation) and then you unwrap it and reveal which player’s autograph you got. We usually always participate…mainly because I really want to buy one of those huge puck display cases and show them off.
(If you want to know who’s puck I got, just ask… wink.png )

Then we were finally free to roam…we were back home.
On the concourse I felt like a little idiot…I had a ridiculously lame spring in my step…the same “spring” that you get when you first fall in love or when you win a million dollars (not like I have ANY experience with the latter…) but when I looked around, I realized – everyone had that same giddy, happy-go-lucky gleam in their eyes. Coulda been the beer, but either way, we just couldn’t wait.

This was it, this is our very first game in ink…the first one in the official books. This game would set the tempo for the beginning of our new season…we just had to get it right. Nothing could spoil our spirits…we just knew we weren’t going home disappointed.

When the Tank was full, and the lights were dimmed, the crowd went wild…just wild. The volume and energy rivaled a playoff atmosphere…I don’t even think the players could have expected that in their wildest dreams they could be that well loved…but especially in the wake of last season’s dramatic successes and tragic losses, it seems that the connection between this team and their loyal fans has tightened and become much closer than before…if that’s even possible.

Then the banner was lowered – Pacific Division Champs … which no doubt brought a tear to the eye of many of the Sharks’ faithful. We may only have three banners in our rafters now, but they are three hard fought, blood-sweat-and-tears stained banners, banners that will only multiply in our seasons to come…

We got introduced to our “new” 2008-2009 San Jose Sharks and then the puck dropped…

And as far as the game went…
What I wanna know is, who told Parros to keep it clean? Maybe his momma was sick of nursing his absurd wounds and gave him a serious talkin’ to. Either way, it seemed he did not want to drop the gloves that night…at all. Who knows – his face was probably still sore from his last rendevous at San Jose. The game really started off pretty slow and I wish I could say it was enthralling and spectacular but it was neither…something was being held back…BIG TIME. It was like we were skating through three feet of water the entire first period…no exciting fights, or hits, or breakaways…(I think I even dozed off at one point?)

But things were to change after the first intermission.

It seems that the way we played this first game has dictated the way we have played all others since…we come out swinging in the second and third. It seems to be working. Nabby is wonderfully consistent and our D is D-lightful…its hard to really analyze the play when our coaching staff is still trying out line combinations…all one can really attest to is that the Sharks look great.

With every breakaway, every shot, every goal, every power play…the fans just got more and more into it…to the point where Parros taking a penalty brought the entire Tank to its feet and the cheers were deafening. Being a new fan and experiencing a lot of “firsts” I realized what’s so special about the season opener…its a new beginning. A symbol of change, reinvention, learning from your old mistakes…and for the Sharks its picking up where we left off…but stronger, smarter and better than before.

On October 9th, I felt something as strong as I felt it on January 5th…the magic of a hockey game. It’s like falling in love all over again. January 5th was my first ever game…the day that changed my world forever. Every day since then I’ve learned more and more about the game, and with every new thing I learn there’s one more reason for me to love it.

I look forward to seeing how the next few weeks unfold for our boys in the NHL…all of them. I personally am looking forward to the Sharks-Flyers game on Saturday…its one of the most highly anticipated games for me this season…

Good luck to all!

Yeah this pretty much turned out to be a homer blog…


Don't Act Like I Never Told Ya...

“Work it, make it, do it

Makes us harder, better, faster, stronger…”

The Sharks new video opener features Kanye West’s “Stronger” and when I think about it, the song seems pretty appropriate for the beginning of the new season.

As I stated in my last blog about what I observed at our preseason games, the Sharks seem to have changed for the better. In fact, looking much stronger than their last season identities…and I think the same thing goes for many other teams this season…coming back harder, better, faster and stronger.

Being as we haven’t had the privilege (for the most part) to catch a glimpse of other teams’ preseason games, I simply assumed that all the offseason changes we heard so much about across the NHL were minor and nothing to shake a hockey stick at. So while I was curious about various teams, it’s hard to make any kind of assessment when you can’t see them play. Needless to say, the games we did attend at HP gave me the opportunity to see the Ducks, Canucks and Coyotes first hand. Two out of three did impress…but we all know, preseason is just preseason – a cheap stand-in (or the dorky, ugly older brother) to the real thing. Enough said, there’s no need to whine about the preseason anymore, (I don’t have to name names here…) its just about done…if it were as useless as some think, it wouldn’t exist…if nothing else it brings us fans back together to pump us up for the new season…speaking of which

I was like a kid waiting for Christmas morning on Friday night…I kept waking up, checking the time, and doing the math to see how many hours were left til the puck dropped in Prague. I just couldn’t wait for it…and I know I wasn’t the only one. I mean, we’ve been passing the time just begging the season to hurry up and get here…and now here it is…for those of us who have season tickets or partial season tickets, our family and friends will start hating us again as we will be “unavailable so don’t even bother asking” to do anything until June.

There’s no looking back now…this is it, we’ve kicked off an eight month party.

Game on.

Now, I’m gonna just make a few cheap observations here…I am aware that it’s early and things will change, but they don’t mean much – just calling it like I see it.

After watching both games yesterday, I can honestly say, a couple things surprised me. (disclaimer: I’m not exactly happy to admit some of it, trust me)

First off – Prague…

The Rangers…now I know they’ve gone through a lot in the off-season, they’ve got themselves a pretty young team now, but their play seemed a little weak to me. While they played well, I just expected them to play stronger. They just need a little time to gel. Now, I will say, Naslund blew me away. He was stellar. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for him with the Rangers – what a great addition to the team. Drury, settling into his new role as captain didn’t really make a huge presence on the ice on Saturday, but come Sunday’s game, his eight shots on goal gave me something to smile about…maybe because he’s on my fantasy team?

Stamkos…all the hype…is he living up to it? So far so good! I expect big things from this kid. Its hard to live up to the hype when everyone has made you out to be a huge deal…but he seems to have the skills to back it up. He’s also got a great team behind him. I was completely impressed with Tampa Bay on Saturday. Not only was Stamkos a pleasure to watch, but Lecavalier and St. Louis were dynamic. Not that they weren’t last season, but now that they’ve got the support of a great new team (Stamkos, Malone, Smith, Kolzig), they don’t have to carry it all on their shoulders. The blue line has gotten a shot in the arm (that was a little dramatic of me actually) with help from Matt Carle who I must say, made me proud. He may never have played like that with the Sharks but that was due, in part, to our coaching. It seems Barry Melrose is letting him develop his own style and Matt is running with it – he was the talk of the town during and after Saturday’s game. Mike Smith was also unbelievable in my opinion. He all but stood on his head to protect the net. He threw his 6’4" frame around like nothing and made some incredible saves. This team is a force this season…I seriously wouldn’t underestimate these guys. I know that they’ve got lots of work ahead but I guess it’s safe to say that they’ve made quite the impression on me.

On to Stockholm…

Talk about excitement…this match up did not disappoint! As much as I hate to say it, Sid and Geno still have lots of steam left…sorry guys. Not really sure what I feel about Fleury at this point as he didn’t impress me as much as I thought he would. Our little Penguins are still on the upswing so it seems. With Gonchar out for a few months it must have been somewhat reassuring to see guys like Scuderi stepping it up. They’ve got a lot to do in Gonchar’s absence but I’m sure they will find their legs soon enough on the blue line. I expected a little more from Kris Letang but who knows, it will be very interesting to see how Pittsburgh’s defense improves over the next few weeks. Then when the young talent like Tyler Kennedy comes out in place of someone like Petr Sykora and delivers like he did, the Eastern Conference should be very scared. There’s still an entire season to assess but from they way they started things off, its going to be an entertaining and season for you Pens fans out there. You’ve got a lot to be proud of. (Its gonna take a lot more convincing for me to join that group…sorry)

Ottawa on the other hand, is on their way to earning me as a fan. Heatley, Alfie and Spezza came up huge…while I definitely think they need to get some of the others guys to the net, the three musketeers certainly came through for Sunday’s game. It was also great to see another line coming through on Vermette’s goal. They matched the Pens intensity on Saturday and gave them a run for their money through to OT. It would be really great to see these guys have a amazing season and I think they will.

Looking forward to Thursday
Our “opening day” here in North America…the Sharks and the Ducks, the Leafs and the Wings, the Bruins and the Avs, and the Flames and the Canucks…banners will be raised, fans will scream, free stuff given away, autographed pucks will be bought, beer will be spilled, faces will be painted and smack will be talked! This is what it’s all about. This is what we have been waiting for.

I will leave you with this – (in honor of my girl Juice…)

The two Eastern teams that will be playing on Thursday – you better bring it hard because you’re coming to the WILD WEST baby…and we do things differently out here.