Bay Area Sports Fan!

A blog for a Bay Area Sports Fan

Posts Tagged ‘Sports’

State of the Sharks: Disappointed

Posted by davefowkes on 05/14/2009

Disappointment, anger and frustration, those are the emotions the San Jose Sharks and their fan base continue to feel after the Sharks first round upset loss to Anaheim. The Sharks held their annual “State of the Sharks” event with their fans. CEO Greg Jamison, GM Doug Wilson, head coach Todd McLellan and players Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelski were on hand to face questions from a crowd estimated in the three to four thousand range.

The mood of the crowd was mostly upbeat. There were standing ovations for the players and the coach as they were introduced. Overall the mood of the event was jolly. But the underlying current of disappointment was certainly felt in the questioning and certainly in the answers.

“I thought the anger and disappointment would diminish by now but watching all these other game sevens, it has not,” Wilson said. “We built this team with high expectations and we will never lower them. We have some difficult decisions ahead.”

Wilson has spent the last few weeks since the end of the season as he says conducting an autopsy of the Sharks season. “I should not use that term but it is how it feels.”

While nobody would give details on what went wrong or what changes are to come, there was a clear theme that developed: The Sharks must improve their mental toughness.

“It takes a physical and a mental commitment,” Coach McLellan said. “We are close physically but Detroit is ahead of us on mental toughness. How do we help players be mentally tougher? I don’t know the answer to that. We can look inside the organization and we can look outside the organization. We have to be mentally tougher. Will this (a first round playoff exit) make us mentally tougher or will we wither away? I think we will be in the first group.”

The comparison to what Detroit has gone through was another regular theme. McLellan pointed out that the Red Wings stumbled a number of times before finally breaking through to the top.

Players were the focal point of a number of questions early on. Joe Thornton was asked why he did not shoot more? How can he play more angry in every game like he did in game 5? And why did he lead the league in getting thrown out of the face-off circle?

But while some of the questions were filled with laughs, and the players were able to have fun, the elephant in the room never left.

“This is a better hockey team then we had in Tampa,” Dan Boyle said comparing this team to the one he won a Stanley Cup with. “Come playoffs everyone has to step up. The top guys take a lot of heat but everybody needs to step up. Goaltending needs to be better, our top guys have to be better, and our second guys have to be better. I think this is a better hockey team but we have to come together. I look forward to getting back on the ice.”

“We take the blame,” team captain Marleau said on Anaheim’s top line out playing them. “We need to be better. Why did this happen? That is the soul searching we are doing.”

Thornton added, “They did out play us. Their power play was better than ours. They are three big guys that played well down the stretch. We should have played better.”

In the end the question that all Shark fans will be asking though is what will the Sharks do to improve themselves next year? While the answer to that question was evident in the Sharks management will clearly be looking to improve the team’s mental toughness, it was not clear how they would go about doing that. Will there be changes? It certainly sounds like there will be some.

“Who will be with us (next year)? I don’t know. But we will look into the mirror and we will do what it takes to get it done. We will bring back people committed to get where we want to go,” Wilson said. “The next couple of months will be uncomfortable. I like the players here but we need those who will fight through this. We want more guys like Mike Ricci.”

Ricci who is a member of the organization received a standing ovation when he emerged to take questions after the players left. “I wish I could put guys like Ricci and (Brian) Marchment (who is also with the organization) back in the lineup,” Wilson proclaimed.

One thing about the Sharks that is apparently very different from Detroit was this State of the Sharks event. “I can’t believe how many people are here tonight,” McLellan said as he compared it to his days in Detroit. “It strikes me just how passionate you are as fans. I came from a place they call hockeytown and I guaranty you, this would not happen there! Be proud!”

The event lasted well over two hours. In the end there were not grand gestures, there were no clues as to the Sharks offseason plans, but what was clear is that the Sharks management is trying to put together a winning team. The next step will be to improve the mental toughness of the team. The Stanley Cup question though is, will that mental toughness come from inside the organization or will it come from outside?  In all likelihood, a little of both.

Disappointment, anger and frustration, those are the emotions the San Jose Sharks and their fan base continue to feel after the Sharks first round upset loss to Anaheim. The Sharks held their annual “State of the Sharks” event with their fans. CEO Greg Jamison, GM Doug Wilson, head coach Todd McLellan and players Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelski were on hand to face questions from a crowd estimated in the three to four thousand range.

The mood of the crowd was mostly upbeat. There were standing ovations for the players and the coach as they were introduced. Overall the mood of the event was jolly. But the underlying current of disappointment was certainly felt in the questioning and certainly in the answers.

“I thought the anger and disappointment would diminish by now but watching all these other game sevens, it has not,” Wilson said. “We built this team with high expectations and we will never lower them. We have some difficult decisions ahead.”

Wilson has spent the last few weeks since the end of the season as he says conducting an autopsy of the Sharks season. “I should not use that term but it is how it feels.”

While nobody would give details on what went wrong or what changes are to come, there was a clear theme that developed: The Sharks must improve their mental toughness.

“It takes a physical and a mental commitment,” Coach McLellan said. “We are close physically but Detroit is ahead of us on mental toughness. How do we help players be mentally tougher? I don’t know the answer to that. We can look inside the organization and we can look outside the organization. We have to be mentally tougher. Will this (a first round playoff exit) make us mentally tougher or will we wither away? I think we will be in the first group.”

The comparison to what Detroit has gone through was another regular theme. McLellan pointed out that the Red Wings stumbled a number of times before finally breaking through to the top.

Players were the focal point of a number of questions early on. Joe Thornton was asked why he did not shoot more? How can he play more angry in every game like he did in game 5? And why did he lead the league in getting thrown out of the face-off circle?

But while some of the questions were filled with laughs, and the players were able to have fun, the elephant in the room never left.

“This is a better hockey team then we had in Tampa,” Dan Boyle said comparing this team to the one he won a Stanley Cup with. “Come playoffs everyone has to step up. The top guys take a lot of heat but everybody needs to step up. Goaltending needs to be better, our top guys have to be better, and our second guys have to be better. I think this is a better hockey team but we have to come together. I look forward to getting back on the ice.”

“We take the blame,” team captain Marleau said on Anaheim’s top line out playing them. “We need to be better. Why did this happen? That is the soul searching we are doing.”

Thornton added, “They did out play us. Their power play was better than ours. They are three big guys that played well down the stretch. We should have played better.”

In the end the question that all Shark fans will be asking though is what will the Sharks do to improve themselves next year? While the answer to that question was evident in the Sharks management will clearly be looking to improve the team’s mental toughness, it was not clear how they would go about doing that. Will there be changes? It certainly sounds like there will be some.

“Who will be with us (next year)? I don’t know. But we will look into the mirror and we will do what it takes to get it done. We will bring back people committed to get where we want to go,” Wilson said. “The next couple of months will be uncomfortable. I like the players here but we need those who will fight through this. We want more guys like Mike Ricci.”

Ricci who is a member of the organization received a standing ovation when he emerged to take questions after the players left. “I wish I could put guys like Ricci and (Brian) Marchment (who is also with the organization) back in the lineup,” Wilson proclaimed.

One thing about the Sharks that is apparently very different from Detroit was this State of the Sharks event. “I can’t believe how many people are here tonight,” McLellan said as he compared it to his days in Detroit. “It strikes me just how passionate you are as fans. I came from a place they call hockeytown and I guaranty you, this would not happen there! Be proud!”

The event lasted well over two hours. In the end there were not grand gestures, there were no clues as to the Sharks offseason plans, but what was clear is that the Sharks management is trying to put together a winning team. The next step will be to improve the mental toughness of the team. The Stanley Cup question though is, will that mental toughness come from inside the organization or will it come from outside?  In all likelihood, a little of both.

Posted in San Jose Sharks, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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?

Posted in 49ers, Football, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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!

Posted in Football, Raiders, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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.

Posted in San Jose Sharks, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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!

Posted in San Jose Sharks, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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.

Posted in San Jose Sharks | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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.

Posted in San Jose Sharks, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

White beats Cardinal in Stanford Football spring game

Posted by davefowkes on 04/14/2009

It took a little while for the teams to kick it into gear, but when they did it was Andrew Luck leading the White team to a 42-17 win over the Cardinal team in the annual spring football game for Stanford. The red-shirt freshman put on quite a show under the lights at Stanford stadium in front of several hundred Cardinal fans as he tries to earn the starting job this fall. By my very unofficial tally, Luck was 19/26 for 383 yards and five touchdown passes.

Luck and returning starter Tavita Pritchard are competing for the starting job this fall. Pritchard played okay going 14/28 for 178 yards and two touchdowns. His night would have looked better had he not had Luck on the other side of the ball.

Coach Jim Harbaugh certainly noticed the effort by his young quarterback and while he would not commit to a quarterback for the season, Harbaugh did say, “If we started a game tomorrow, Andrew Luck would be our starter.”

Luck really only threw one or two bad passes. At least three of his incomplete passes were dropped passes or his numbers would have been even better.

Down 3-0 after the first quarter, Luck led the White team to its first touchdown. On a third and 16 play, Luck found Richard Sherman down the middle for a completion, and after Sherman put a nice move on the safety it ended with a 41-yard touchdown pass.

Luck’s next touchdown pass also went to Sherman. A nice 17-yard pass over the middle to Sherman who was interfered with trying to get free in the end zone. That score would make it 14-10 at the half in favor of the white squad.

The play of the game came on the first drive of the 3rd quarter. Luck again scrambling threw across his body downfield to Corey Gatewood for a gain of 55 yards. That set up a three yard touchdown run for Jonathan Stewart.

Luck had another great downfield throw to Doug Baldwin for 42 yards right down the sideline. It eventually led to a 20-yard touchdown pass on a fade route to Baldwin. That made the score 28-10 White.

In the fourth quarter, Luck again used his feet to step up in the pocket and fire the ball threw traffic to Ryan Whalen in the back of the end zone for a four yard touchdown pass.

The white would end the scoring in the game on a 4th and 10 play. It was deemed too long for a field goal attempt so they sent Luck and the offense back on the field. Luck fired a bullet 32 yards to the end zone to Coby Fleener who made a nice move on the defender to catch the ball and score the touchdown!

It was an impressive evening for Luck and both players and fans were impressed by what they saw. “That play was all Andrew,” Fleener said of his touchdown catch.

While Luck certainly stood out in the game, there were a number of other stars who made great plays. Pritchard had two short touchdown passes to the flat off of play action fakes. One went to fullback Owen Marecic and the other to running back Blaise Johnson who ran hard all night.

The surprise of the night was linebacker Alex Debniak, who made a few impressive defensive plays for the white, but wowed the crowed with his running ability at the fullback position. He surprised people with back to back runs of 11 and 14 yards in the second quarter. But the big run came in the 4th quarter when he rambled for 59 yards to set up a score. He capped his night on the red’s final drive by stopping a screen pass for a loss of three to set up a third and long.

The Cardinal were without many name players be it Toby Gerhart who was at Sunken Diamond playing baseball, or Delano Howell and Allen Smith who were out with injury. A lot of players played both ways because of that.

In the end it was great to see the Cardinal and White out there on the field. It was football under the lights! Now it is back to the weight room and film rooms for the next few months as they get ready for fall. And for the next four months the topic will continue to be who will start at quarterback for Stanford. Given tonight’s performance, that question may get answered sooner than later.

Posted in Sports, Stanford, Stanford Football | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pains me to watch Zito

Posted by davefowkes on 04/11/2009

Anyone else hurt when they watch Barry Zito pitch? From Cy Young winner to just not a very good pitcher.

I am a big fan of Zito from his A’s days, so I do route for him, but there is just not much left to route for. Watching Zito pitch last night was just painful. There is nothing like a three run first inning to instill positive vibes for the rest of the season.

To his credit Zito settled down and only gave up one more run in the next three innings but the damage was done. Zito’s opening start line: 7ip, 4 runs, 7 hits, 4 strikeouts and 2 walks.  That is a line champions are made of!

Zito’s arm strength just is not there so he needs to be perfect in placement. Once or twice this year I am sure that he will be and it will be great to see him shut teams down. Unfortunately it will just be once or twice and the rest of the year we will watch Zito struggle through the season. The Giants offense is better so Zito is unlikely to lose 12 straight games like last year, but it is hard to imagine his upside being above 500 anymore.

The Giants staff will struggle at some point this season with the decision of what to do with Zito. Bench him? Put him in the bullpen? The contract will go down in history as one of the worst.

Zito is a great guy and I hope that he can turn this around, but until he does, it is getting tough to watch!

Posted in Baseball, Giants, Sports | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A’s pitching off to okay start

Posted by davefowkes on 04/11/2009

The big question coming into the season for Oakland was how would the young pitching staff hold up. Early results are optimistic!

I loved what I saw from 21-year old Brett Anderson last night in his major league debut. Sure he took the loss, but in making his debut in the A’s home opener, he only had one bad inning! Anderson gave up five runs in the second inning. But the other five innings he pitched, he did not give up run. He was 1-2-3 in the first. He did not get himself in a lot of trouble. He was one bad inning from having a great debut! 21-year old pitchers will struggle at times. So to see Anderson come up with a game like that last night, it certainly provides plenty of hope for his future.

Trevor Cahill struggled a bit more in his debut in Anaheim. I did not have the opportunity to watch the game, but as I followed online you could tell he was struggling with his control. Five walks are too many to be giving up regardless of your age. That said, despite his struggles, Cahill fought through it for five innings, and he was an unearned run away from leaving the game with a lead. As his emotions settle down and he gets used to the fact that he is now a major league pitcher, his control should improve.

The “veterans” of the staff also had nice debuts in Anaheim. Dallas Braden was far from special but 6 innings of 3 run ball will win him some games this year. Dana Eveland also suffered from lack of run support while he was on the mound, but he looked like he was ready to take a step forward from last year. Consistency is what killed Eveland last year, so judging him on one game is unfair.

With the offense apparently ready to step up from the last couple of years, these young pitchers should have more run support then their predecessors. We obviously can’t make too much from one game or one start, but I did like what I saw this week and it does give me much hope for the season!

Posted in A's, Baseball, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sharks clinch west in loss

Posted by davefowkes on 04/09/2009

The good news is the Sharks are the best in the west, the bad news was the 4-1 loss they suffered at the hands of the Phoenix Coyotes. Al Montoya was outstanding in shutting down the Sharks making 40 saves on the night. Peter Mueller had a goal and an assist.

Travis Moen scored the Sharks only goal and Evgeni Nabokov made just 13 saves on the night. The Sharks out shot Phoenix 41-17 on the evening. The Sharks really dominated in the third period but Montoya was the star turning just about everything away.

”In my opinion we didn’t start playing until it was 3-0,” Coach Todd McLellan said. “At this time of the year there’s no chance of winning if you make that decision before the game. To wait and see and put your toes in the water to see how cold it is and if you want to jump in or not, it’s disappointing this time of the year. Will has to take precedent over skill… not sure that was the case today.”

Despite the loss the Sharks ended up clinching the top spot in the Western Conference. Detroit lost to Nashville in a shootout just before the Sharks game started and that clinched the top spot for San Jose. However with Boston beating Montreal, the President’s trophy is still up for grabs. The trophy was at the Arena just in case, but it was not needed tonight.

It looked like it might be early, when the Sharks were out shooting Phoenix 5-1 to open the game. But the Coyotes got on the board on their second shot of the game. The first goal was a bang bang play that surprised everybody. Right out of a faceoff to the left of Nabokov, Scottie Upshell got the puck and whipped a quick shot through traffic that Nabokov never saw.

Near the end of the first period the Coyotes would score again thanks to a 5-on-3 power play. After killing off nearly a minute of the two man advantage, Ed Jovanowski got an open luck straight in front of Nabokov and the wrist shot beat Nabokov for the 2-0 lead.

Phoenix made it 3-0 when Milan Michalek’s brother, Zbynek, beat Nabokov from 13-feet with a wrist shot.

The game got physical in the latter half of the second period with a couple of fights breaking out. The first one involved Travis Moen, but the crowd really got excited when little Devin Setoguchi landed some good punches in his fight with Martin Hanzal.

The Sharks finally got on the scoreboard on their 33rd shot of the evening. Moen, fighting for space in front of the net, jammed the puck between Montoya’s pads.

The Sharks certainly had plenty of opportunity for more as they were granted four power play opportunities during the third period. But the special teams unit was cold tonight going 0/6 with a man advantage.

After the last power play failed, the Coyotes put the game away for good. Peter Mueller scored on a 2-on-1 break to make it 4-1 and send the crowd packing on fan appreciation night.

The Sharks did have some good news tonight with the return of Ryan Clowe and Patrick Marleau to the lineup. “I thought Clowe was very good today,” McLellan said. “Out of all injured players that came back I think he’s been, after game one, the sharpest. I thought he made an impact on the game. Patty (Marleau) skated. I’m not too sure their line got a lot done especially in this game we expect more from them. It’s going to take a little time.”

The Sharks last game of the regular season is Saturday in Los Angeles.

Posted in San Jose Sharks, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sharks Get Healthy, Then Get Win

Posted by davefowkes on 04/07/2009

The San Jose Sharks needed a shootout to get their only goal of the game, but that was enough for a 1-0 win over Colorado and two more points in the standings as San Jose march toward the President’s Cup.

 

Joe Pavelski scored a goal in the shootout which proved to be the only goal of the game and Evgeni Nabokov stood tall in net knocking away all three Avalanche attempts to preserve his shutout. Nabokov stopped 20 saves in the game to earn his 41st victory of the year.

 

The two points are important ones for the Sharks who watched Boston lose to Ottawa to start the evening. With the win in hand, the Sharks now has a 5-point lead over Boston and a 6 point lead over Detroit in the race for the President’s Cup and home ice advantage throughout the playoffs. The Sharks and Red Wings still have two games left while Boston has three.

 

The Sharks also got good news on the ice as they prepare for their playoff run. Mike Grier and Claude Lemieux both returned from the injured reserve to see ice time for the first time in months. Both showed rust, but the Sharks are just happy to see them on the ice with a few games to shake off the rust. Patrick Marleau did not suit up but there is hope for his return on Thursday.

 

The game started off very slow. It is not that either team played particularly badly, it is just that neither team could get a shot on net. Even 2-1 breaks ended with missed passes or off line shots. Colorado held just a 3-2 shot advantage after the first period.

 

“I don’t think we played that well,” Coach McLellan said. “They did a very good job in defending us, getting above us, making it difficult to enter their zone. We didn’t handle it well early in the game. In the second period after we discussed it a little bit, we got going. We can play a lot better and we expect more from each other.”

 

The second period heated up some with San Jose getting 16 shots on net. But at no point could they get one past Peter Budaj who made 30 saves on the night.

 

The Avalanche seemed to control the puck in the third period but Nabokov was excellent make three point blank saves during the period and single handedly saving the game for the Sharks. Colorado would end up taking penalties, one near the end of regulation and one in overtime to give the Sharks a 4-3 advantage for 3 of the 5 overtime minutes. But the Sharks could not score.

 

Finally in the shootout, Pavelski got the puck past Budaj on his stick side. Nabokov shelled Colorado’s three shots while Budaj turned away the final two attempts from San Jose. 1-0 is your final score!

 

“As a team we talk about control… and we ARE in control,” McLellan said of his teams ability to wrap up home ice on Thursday. “It’s where we want to be. But that doesn’t means, the opposition we play against or the other teams we are battling with are just going to roll over and play dead. We don’t expect that. We have to take care of our own business and we look forward to that opportunity on Thursday.”

 

The Sharks wrap up the home season on Thursday night when they host the Phoenix Coyotes.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in San Jose Sharks, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »