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Archive for April, 2009

Stanford Cardinal Football Examiner: Stanford legend Ken Margerum elected to Hall of Fame

Posted by davefowkes on 04/30/2009

Stanford Cardinal Football Examiner: Stanford legend Ken Margerum elected to Hall of Fame

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Stanford Cardinal Football Examiner: Toby Gerhart update

Posted by davefowkes on 04/28/2009

Stanford Cardinal Football Examiner: Toby Gerhart update

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Sharks beat Ducks to stay alive

Posted by davefowkes on 04/25/2009

(San Jose, CA)  —  The Sharks pounded out a win over Anaheim to stay alive in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 6-minutes into the overtime, Patrick Marleau literally pounded the puck into the goal from under the goaltender to win the game 3-2.

Joe Thornton had a goal and two assists and Marleau and Devin Setoguchi each had a goal and an assist as the top line lifted the team to victory. Evgeni Nabokov saved 23 shots in net. Jonas Hiller was again a star for the Ducks stopping 44 shots and keeping the game close throughout.

The Sharks had a two-nothing lead in the third but a slow start to the third period led to two Anaheim goals and a comeback to tie the game and eventually force the overtime.

After a poor showing in game 4, the Sharks character was questioned. That included the character of the top line. Thornton and Marleau talked with coach Todd McLellan about getting the top line of Thornton, Marleau and Setoguchi back together for tonight’s game. They had often been separated during the past few games. “We really have not played much together this series so we were really happy to be back together since we played together pretty much all year,” Thornton said.

The coach liked the results as well. “We are obviously happy with their (Thornton, Marleau and Setoguchi) performance tonight. They were challenged in the locker room by the coaching staff and this is supposed to be their time of year.”

Torey Mitchell continued to impress with his energy and speed he created a number of turnovers and scoring chances for his linemates Jonathan Cheechoo and Jeremy Roenick. “We got to put out a lot of energy out there and I thought we did a good job of that,” Mitchell said. This was Mitchell’s third game of the year after missing the season with a broken leg.

The Sharks scored first on the power play. Patrick Marleau took a shot from the slot that deflected off of Hiller to his left where Thornton was standing for a quick shot past the goalie.

Devin Setoguchi got his second career playoff goal on a great shot. Working from behind the net, Setoguchi drifted out to the left side and as all the defenders played the pass, Setoguchi fired a shot that just squeezed in between Hiller’s pads and the goal post.

And then the Ducks struck! It started on a Mike Grier turnover after he fell at center ice after bumping into the linesman. Andrew Ebbett got the puck and charged the Sharks zone. He slid a nice pass to Ryan Carter who beat Nabokov between his legs for the goal.

Just under 4 minutes later, two defensemen collapsed on Scott Niedermayer as he carried the puck into the zone, he flicked a pass to his right to Corey Perry who beat Setoguchi into the zone. The pass hit Perry right on his stick and he blasted a slap shot that beat Nabokov. The Ducks tied the score at 2 in front of a stunned crowd.

The Sharks struggled at the start of both the second and third periods which is what cost them. “We were frustrated,” Mitchell said. “We have ups and downs, so we just tried to ride the storm. We have to do a better job of that in the future.”

The Ducks had a great chance midway through the period when Marc-Edouard Vlasic slipped and went down at center ice, Mike Brown ended up with a breakaway but he could not control the puck on a deke and Nabokov made the save.

The game winner was a great play by Thornton who skated toward the goal, took a shot, got the rebound, went behind the goal, passed it to Marleau who shot the puck. It appeared that Hiller had stopped it but the puck was loose under the goaltender. Marleau kept hammering at Hiller’s leg until the puck scooted into the goal for the win. The crowd obviously erupted!

“It is just like basketball,” Thornton described the game winner. “you just shoot the ball and follow your rebound. I shot it and it came back to me. I wrapped it around (the net) to Patty who was determined to put it in the back of the net. It was a great play by Patty.”

“Everything is fine and dandy right now,” McLellan said. “But we still have a noose around our necks and we better be prepared to play even better (in game 6) than we did tonight.”

The Sharks trail the best of seven series 3-2 now with game 6 in Anaheim on Monday night. If they can win that one, game 7 would be Wednesday in San Jose.

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49ers get playmaker, then look to next year

Posted by davefowkes on 04/25/2009

Day one treated the San Francisco 49ers at the draft. They were first surprised to see a play maker fall to them in the first round, then acquired a first round pick in next year’s draft. 49er brass sounds happy.

The 49ers and their fans were quite surprised to see WR Michael Crabtree fall to them in the #10 spot of the first round. Crabtree is recovering from a broken foot but he is a two time Biletnikoff winner for best college wide receiver at Texas Tech. When the Raiders past on him at #7 he just kept dropping. Despite quality at OT and DE still on the board the 49ers selected Crabtree.

He is a play maker. He has a lot of potential and could be a star wide receiver in the NFL. 49er fans should be happy to finally have a play maker in the fold. That said, all of the emails/texts/social webpage response was nearly identical: Great pick by the 49ers but who is going to throw to him? I was against the 49ers picking a wide receiver other than Crabtree because it seems clear the Mike Singletary approach is to run, run and then run some more. With Shawn Hill at quarterback I don’t expect a very wide open offense. But most receivers dont turn into stars year one. So 49er fans should be patient and hope that in year two or three when Crabtree is ready to be a star, they have a quarterback or offensive game plan that is ready to take advantage of his ability. For now, just be happy they have a play maker at wide receiver.

The 49ers next move was surprising. With pass rusher Everette Brown still on the board, they traded their second round pick to Carolina for a first round pick next year.

My initial response is that anytime you can turn a second round pick into a first round pick it is a great trade. That said, the 49ers need players now, not in the future. Brown is a pass rusher which is always a need position. And Brown was selected by Carolina. If he turns into a star, you can be sure this trade will be second guessed again and again. Next year’s draft should be fun, but will that improve their 7-9 record this year?

In day 2 the 49ers need to find a decent safety, a backup running back for Frank Gore, and add some depth on OL, DL and a late round sleeper quarterback would not hurt. How about Graham Harrel of Texas Tech?

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Raiders send shockwaves through draft

Posted by davefowkes on 04/25/2009

Give Al Davis credit, he has everyone talking about the Oakland Raiders. Day one of the NFL Draft is in the books and the Raiders were number one in pulling surprises.

Reaching deep down the draft board, the Oakland Raiders selected WR Darrius Hayward-Bey with the #7 overall pick in the draft. After trading down in the second round, they went deeper down the draftboard to find DB Mike Mitchell out of Ohio University. Both players are super fast, but both players could have huge question marks and could have been had much later in the draft.

Hayward-Bey was the fastest player at the combine. Most people considered him an end of the first round or beginning of the second round talent. He never stood out at Maryland averaging 46 catchers per year and getting just 42 catches his senior year. He had some big games, but also some games where he would get shut out. But what is most frustrating to Raider fans is not so much that they went after Hayward-Bey, but there were two other wide receivers on the board graded much higher. Michael Crabtree is a two-time Biletnikoff award winner for best college receiver. But the Raiders went speed.

The Raiders chased that in the second round by shocking the world by selecting Mitchell. Mike Mayock on the NFL Network said he did not even know who Mitchell was until a couple of weeks ago when he ran a fat 40 at the Ohio University’s pro day. Mayock then raised him to a 7th round talent. Scouts Inc. was so excited by him they did not even include him in their coverage leaving him a zero grade.

With the draft nobody really knows what will happen. Who will be a steal, who will be a bust, who gets injured, but what we do know is about where players are to be selected. If the Raiders really wanted these speed guys, they easily could have traded down for more picks, or in Mitchell’s case waited another 3-4 rounds. There was a lot of other talent the Raiders could have used that was on the board when they selected Mitchell.

It just continues to show the Raiders have their own way of doing things, and that way seems to keep getting them back into the top 10 in the draft every year.

Today it certainly made for some good comedy while watching the draft!

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Sharks Misery

Posted by davefowkes on 04/24/2009

It has taken me all day to come up with the effort of typing over last night’s game. As a San Jose Sharks fan it just made me angry to watch the 4-0 loss to the Ducks. Losing the game is one thing. Had the Shark s come out and put forth a great effort only to see a few breaks go against them and lose the game, so be it. But last night was supposed to be a desperate game. An opportunity for the Sharks to even up the series coming back home.

Instead, the Sharks just looked like they were skating in mud. There was no urgency, there was no consistency, it just looked like there was no effort. The star players, the classy veterans, the young guns, nobody had good games last night. The Sharks laid a giant egg.

I have no excuse for it and I am pretty sure the Sharks themselves have no excuses for it. It just does not make sense to me how they could pull out that type of game in what was clearly states as their most important game of the year.

When the Sharks get eliminated there will be many questions asked. How do you blow up a President’s trophy winning team. I am glad I am not Doug Wilson. Because it seems clear that despite the regular season success, the Sharks current roster is just not capable of making a deep run into the playoffs. Is it the quiet leadership of Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton? Is it the lack of raw-raw guys? There is just something about Shark hockey that just does not let them mentally take it to the next level.

In the past it has been 2nd round exits. This sure looks like a huge first round disappointment instead. If that truly happens (and being down 3-1 in the series it is hard to imagine it not happening at this point) then Doug Wilson is going to have some very big questions to deal with after the season.

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Stanford Cardinal Football Examiner: Stanford football draft history

Posted by davefowkes on 04/24/2009

Stanford Cardinal Football Examiner: Stanford football draft history

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Stanford Cardinal Football Examiner: Stanford football players in the 2009 NFL Draft

Posted by davefowkes on 04/23/2009

Stanford Cardinal Football Examiner: Stanford football players in the 2009 NFL Draft

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Sharks get their bite back

Posted by davefowkes on 04/22/2009

Great win for the Sharks last night. It was a must win game and the team came out and won the game. Not the typical result for a Sharks playoff team.

I said before the game (not in this blog) that for the Sharks to climb back in the series they would need two power play goals per game. Patrick Marleau’s game winner was the second power play goal in three tries. So much for the 0-for-12 in the first two games.

The Sharks brought energy from start to finish, Dan Boyle played his butt off, and most importantly the Sharks showed the urgency that lacked in the first two games.

The only downside to the game was that Evgeni Nabokov was not as sharp as needed, but he did get better as the game went along, making some great saves after the third goal he allowed.

Now the Sharks trail 2-1 in the best of seven series. If they continue to play like they did last night, I think the Sharks have a great chance of coming back to win. But if they revert to the style of play they had at the Shark Tank the first two games, then last night will just turn into a small glimmer of hope.

I will stick with my original prediction, if the Sharks play their best, they will win the series. But there is no margin for error against the Ducks!

OTHER NOTES:  Great to see Torey Mitchell back in the lineup. I thought it was a huge gamble by Todd McLellan to put him into the lineup in such a desperate game, but I thought it paid off. His minutes were down, but when he was on the ice you could see his speed take over and he created a couple of turnovers. Not too bad for a guy playing his first game of the season after recovering from a broken leg.

— The addition of Mitcherll really allowed McLellan to use four lines on a very quick tempo. Shifts were short, fast and sweet. At times it led to confusion, but mostly it meant the Sharks on the ice had fresher legs than the Ducks. It will be interesting to see how Anaheim reacts to that.

–Dan Boyle could do no wrong last night. Two goals and an assist are obvious but his play on defense was outstanding and his quarterbacking the puck on the offensive charge was a difference maker. Anyone remember….um…what’s his name?….that guy from Chicago the Sharks traded for last year….um….Soupy?  Boyle proved his worth last night!

–The star of the night goes to Todd Marchant’s wife. She delivered a baby boy on Monday, was relaesed from the hospital on Tuesday morning, and was at the game last night! Now that is playoff urgency! Talk about grit! Props to her!

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Weekend Thoughts

Posted by davefowkes on 04/18/2009

A wide variety of thoughts to get me through my weekend:

–It was very interesting listening to the entire Bay Area jump ship on the Sharks Friday. Thursday was clearly a big disappointment for one and all. But I am clearly in the minority thinking that San Jose played okay. They need to play better of course, but it is not like this series is over. Most importantly the Sharks must solve their problems on the power play. If they can get that corrected they will win game 2 and go on to win this series. If they can’t score on the power play, well, let’s just say that would not be good.

–The Sharks must be more decisive on their shots. They had enough shots on net but they were not quick and the goalie and the defense was ready for the shot. The Sharks need to get more movement in the offensive zone. If they can get the defense and goalie moving, those Shots will be far more effective, especially on that power play.

–I still like the look of this young A’s pitching staff. Taking 2/3 from Boston was very nice. The only loss was Brett Anderson who only gave up two runs in 7 innings but lost when the bullpen blew up in the 8th inning and Tim Wakefield was throwig a no-hitter into the 8th inning. Trevor Cahill goes again today but so far his first two starts have been very good. Dallas Braden has got the job done so far. If the hitters can keep up with the pitchers, the A’s have a shot to contend.

–Eric Chavez hurt in the first week. There is a stunner. Notice, at first it was a day off. Then a series. Now he hopes to return on Monday. That is Eric Chavez for you. Hopefully Bobby Crosby continues to improve now that he is getting a few days in a row in the lineup to work on his defense and improve his hitting.

–Too early to say “I told you so?” The Giants are as good or as bad as their starting pitching. So far that pitching has been pretty poor. Tim Lincecum with two bad outings, the Big Unit looking old and Barry Zito looking like Barry Zito. That is enough to lead to an 0-6 road trip. Last night Jonathan Sanchez stepped up with a great outing, and the Giants win. As goes the staring rotation, so goes the Giants!

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Sharks Drop Game One

Posted by davefowkes on 04/16/2009

(San Jose, CA) The Sharks skated hard, played physical, were solid on defense and got shots on goals, but despite all that they could not get the puck in the net. The Anaheim Ducks take game one of the first round playoff series with a 2-0 win over the Sharks quickly ending the Sharks home ice advantage.

Rookie Jonas Hiller made 35 saves and the Sharks went 0-6 on the power play as their offensive woes continue. The Sharks out shot the Ducks 35-17, but could not get that decisive goal that they needed.

Scott Niedermayaer scored on the power play and Ryan Getzlaf added a late goal in the third period to provide the offense for the night.

There power play was better than ours, that is what it comes down too,” Joe Thornton said. “We stressed that before the series started. Whoever has the better special teams will probably win the series. They got one and we did not, and that was the difference.”

Evgeni Nabokov did not need to work too hard in stopping 15 shots but finally midway through the third period he gave up a power play goal that would prove to be the winner.

“We felt like we had the majority of play, but that is just hockey,”Thornton said of the team’s efforts. “We just have to keep going to the net and getting shots and hopefully some of them will go in for us.”

What it lacked in shots it made up for in hits. 35 hits were registered between the two teams in what was a very physical, defensive period. Douglas Murray really pushed a few Ducks around with some crowd pleasing hits. “It is the playoffs,” Murray said. “That is playoff hockey. You have to bring the intensity, everybody does. Those that don’t usually hit, hit and those that do play physical like myself have to be even more physical. It is playoff hockey.”

The game was so tight in the first period that there was one span of 7:50 without a shot on net.

In the second period, the Sharks best opportunity came as the puck slid across the goal crease. With Jeremy Roenick virtually pinning Hiller to one side of the net, the puck was there for the taking, but Marcel Goc fanned on his poke attempt through the defense, and the puck skidded out of danger for the Ducks. There were a couple of loose pucks on both sides of the ice where players would be left to think about what could have been?

Finally five minutes into the third period the Ducks would score. Jonathan Cheechoo took a tripping penalty which would set up the Ducks power play. Niedermayer scored on a slap shot from the face off circle through traffic. It was the type of game where it felt like the team that scored first would probably win. Niedermayer’s goal would prove to be the game winner.

The Sharks could not mount much pressure despite getting two more power play opportunities in the third period. “We finished third overall (on the power play this season) but tonight we were out of psync and we did not convert on our chances,” Dan Boyle said. “The power play let us down tonight.”

The Ducks put the game away when Ryan Getlaf took a turnover and beat Nabokov between two defenders on a great wrist shot.

The Sharks need to find a way to generate offense in this series, something that they have struggled to do the last couple of months of the season. Since the all-star break, the Sharks are the third worst team in scoring on 5-on-5 play, the other two teams did not make the playoffs.

In general the Sharks players seemed up about the way they played, they just know the must find a way to convert on opportunities, especially on the power play.

Game 2 is Sunday night at 7pm in San Jose.

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Will the real Sharks show up?

Posted by davefowkes on 04/15/2009

We have waited 7 months for the regular season to end and let the real season begin! Playoff hockey is here! Now the question becomes, which San Jose Shark team will show up?

The Sharks won the president’s trophy and home ice advantage throughout the playoffs on their body of work. That body looked great a couple of months ago. But of late it has not looked so hot. The Sharks stumbled through February and March with injuries and as players came back it appeared the Sharks got better. However the Sharks ended their season against the 13th, 14th and 15th best teams in the Western Conference and they went 1-2 with that lone win being a 1-0 shootout win at home over Colorado. Not exactly an awe inspiring finish.

Now they square up with the Anaheim Ducks. I think it is safe to say that if both teams play their best, the Sharks will win the series easy. The question is can the Sharks play their best game?

Let’s face it, the team has not had a real meaningful game since December. Can a veteran team like the Sharks just flip the switch now that it is playoff time? They will need to, they can not afford to take any shifts, periods or games off. It is cliche to say, but the Sharks must play 60-minutes of hockey!

It sounds easy, but that is something the Sharks have really been struggling with. If they play their game the whole 60-minutes I have no doubt they will win. But if they get comfortable or take their collective foot of the gas pedal, the Ducks will win.

The Ducks are known for taking penalties. They have had to kill 85 more power plays then they have had this year. So special teams will likely be the deciding measure for this season. The Sharks lost 5-3 in Los Angeles Saturday to end the season, but the fact that the three goals all came on the power play should not be forgotten.

In the end I think this series will be more about how the Sharks play then how the Ducks do. The Sharks could win in 5 or lose in 6. Will Thornton, Marleau, Nabokov and others take their game to a new level?

Officially I will say Sharks win round one in six games. But I am far from confident with that prediction.

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