Tuesday, October 14, 2008

San Jose now 4-0 with help of 4 unanswered goals against Columbus; ALSO - photographic evidence of BJ fans in SJ, PLUS the worst trivia answer ever

The San Jose Sharks have started the season 4-0 for the first time in franchise history (laugh all you want - I mean you, fellow Sabres fans), thanks to their win tonight at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Todd McLellan's arrival in San Jose has seemingly brought out the best in the men in teal - the Sharks have outscored their last four opponents 13-4, and outshot them 126-96 (Ron Wilson WHO?).

That last statistic is a little narrower on account of the Blue Jackets tonight - they outshot the Sharks 33 to 25, yet still ended up losing 2-5 to San Jose.

The sellout*** crowd at HP Pavilion included no less than 4 Blue Jackets fans in attendance - 3 of whom flew directly from Ohio (so they told me). I have photographic evidence of each one: proof that the obscure, elusive species known as the Blue Jackets fan can indeed be found west of the Mississippi.

ANYWAY - the HP Pavilion was mostly offended by the poor play in the first period (can you say turnover?), which eventually culminated with a Kristian Huselius power play goal (Dan Boyle called for hooking) from the left circle. It very easily could have been 2-0, Columbus, after a shot banged off of the goal post, but thankfully went wide. That wasn't the only scare of the first period, however - the new #1 Columbus line of Rick Nash (#1 draft pick, 2002) - R.J. Umberger (former Flyer) -Kristian Huselius (former Flame) was looking mighty strong, and was definitely a force to be reckoned with. While the Sharks technically tied the shots on goal at 8 for the period, Columbus was certainly looking like the better team...

...An appearance that was altered in the second period, before being completely revoked in the third. On a Rob Blake penalty, Joe Pavelski got the puck to the prowling Jonathan Cheechoo as the latter lingered in the slot, resulting in a beautiful shorthanded goal. Unfortunately, the Blue Jackets struck back less than thirty seconds later with (surprise surprise) a power play goal, from defenseman Christian Backman at the blue line. However, Milan Michalek retaliated three minutes later with a power play goal of his own (Clowe and Ehrhoff assisting), tying the game at 2. Patrick Marleau helped the Sharks to their first lead of the night with his even-strength goal just 77 seconds later (Setoguchi and Thornton assisting); Columbus goalie Pascal Leclaire was without a prayer on that one, as Captain Patty got the rebound on his own shot, blasting it in from the right of the crease.

If I'm not mistaken, the Sharks' second and third goals also came on consecutive shots (if it wasn't then, it happened later - see below - but either way, the Sharks were rather economic tonight!).

It only got better for the Sharks in the third period, when Marleau scored his second goal of the night, which was also Team Teal's second shorthanded goal (Dan Boyle called for slashing). Mike Grier fed it nicely to Marleau, who banged it home and away, making it 4-2, San Jose (PIZZA...). About three minutes later, Marc-Edouard Vlasic was dealt the puck by Joe Thornton while even-strength, and drove it authoritatively into the net, resulting in Leclaire being replaced by Fredrik Norrena. The Sharks' two goals in the third certainly looked all the better considering that San Jose was outshot 12-5 for the period.

Final thoughts:

  • THE SHARKS HAVE DOUBLE THE POINTS OF THE NEXT CLOSEST TEAM IN THE WESTERN CONFERENCE (and are second in the NHL after the New York Rangers, who are unbeaten after five games).

  • Marc-Edouard Vlasic, while not one of the 3 stars for the evening (that would be Marleau, Nabokov and Thornton), was a plus-4 for the night.

  • No Shark ended up with a minus rating.

  • Conversely, no Blue Jacket ended up with a plus rating.

  • Marcel Goc was back in the lineup tonight, having missed the past 3 games due to a sore back.

  • Ryane Clowe dealt a nice blow to Jan Hejda against the glass, knocking him squarely to the ice.

  • Sharks center Jeremy Roenick (age - 38) got in a fun-to-watch scuffle with Derek Dorsett (age - 21... grow some pubes before you mess with J.R., punk), resulting in 10 minute misconducts for both (J.R. was also called for roughing, while Dorsett was assessed a boarding penalty). From what I could read of Roenick's lips on the Jumbotron, he called Derek something that began with an "F" and ended in "er"... I'll leave it to you to figure out the middle. (PSST, HBO - can we have an uncensored NHL reality show with mic'd helmets? Although J.R. was sans helmet during the fracas, for the record... maybe we'll just have to stick with reading lips.)

  • The *** above refers to the fact that, while all tickets were indeed sold, there were plenty of tickets available on Craigslist, for WAY below face. I got a $40 ticket for $10 - the fact that it is now good for a free Round Table personal pan pizza makes the evening about a $4 investment! For the record, however, the HP Pavilion was mostly full - a few bald patches here and there, though.

  • In a truly bizarre trivia challenge hosted by Danny Miller (Question, mostly verbatim = "Counting tonight's game, how many games has Captain Patrick Marleau played for the Sharks?"), a man wearing a Sharks jersey went up against a man who looked uncannily like an orange highlighter (those that were there know what I mean). *Jersey* went first, and said (wait for it...) - FIVE. Miller, ever so polite, asked *Highlighter* if the number was higher or lower. Of course, *Highlighter* won the challenge by saying "higher." The correct answer (I'm pretty sure) was 799... a wee bit higher than FIVE.

  • On a completely unrelated topic (wink wink)- if you're going to invest in a jersey, you should know SOMETHING about your team captain...
In other Pacific Division news, the Los Angeles Kings came storming back from a 0-2 deficit to crush the Anaheim Ducks 6-3. The Ducks are without a point in their 0-3 start (hint - RETIRE, #8 and 27).... I stand with my L.A. brethren (did I really just type that?) in saying DUCKS SUCK.

Also tonight, the Philadelphia Flyers lost in O.T. to their cross-state rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Can I be the first to dub their 0-2-1 start "The Curse of Sarah Palin?" before it really gets off the ground? Hey, at least their baseball season is going somewhere...

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