One of the things I avoid at this time of year is any form of lists, achievements or any attempt to come up with clever ways to put together a sports-themed Christmas poem. I choose to celebrate the birth of Santa the usual way…with a shameful amount of food, a snootful of brandy and heaping portions of hockey, both NHL and World Junior.
I am Canadian.
Now, down in the southern desert regions here, we don’t build snowmen, go door-to-door caroling or deck the halls with any kind of holly. But thanks to the wonders of the internet, tax-free booze and Satellite TV we can still stay in touch with the most important holiday traditions.
Tonight’s game will be one of the bigger tests, or benchmark games, we’ve had for quite some time. Sure the Sharks got their lunch handed to them against Detroit a couple of games ago but the boys in teal are just about unbeatable at home. And please don’t mention the recent Oiler victory…because even a toothless pitbull gets to eat cake every now and then.
I have a friend, Danny Parodi (used to be a percussionist for Tony Bennet) who lives and dies with the Sharks. Every year that the Sharks have been favoured to go all the way, Danny has said, nope. Not yet. The goaltending was there, the offence was there, but the defense, he said, was not Stanley Cup material.
But Danny now says, with additions like Dan Boyle and (we can now call him the venerable) Rob Blake, the Sharks have the best shot ever at Lord Stanley’s Cup. And in Danny’s most honest moments (like when he does Sinatra at Karaoke…and says things like “walk with me, talk with me) he admits that the Canucks are a threat to a long Shark run.
With Sundin and Luongo, Danny says, anything is possible.
To the Game:
I remember a few years ago when my Rec hockey team decided to play an exhibition against a team about four divisions above us. We got shanked, spanked and thanked.
Tonight, the first period was like that. Every thing we did was wrong. Every thing they did was brilliant. They shoved us into the boards, it was good hard hockey. We shoved them, it was a penalty. We finally clear the puck on a penalty…ooops over the boards and it’s five on three. We kill off that penalty and it’s another five on three.
O Lord, I am so sorry for every sin …
The only good thing is, that the 3-0 lead is in the first period. Still time to come back. The only bad thing is, it’s the first period and they have lots of time to humiliate us. Okay, the positives: Two things; One, we did kill back-to-back five on threes. Secondly, earlier today, I had purchased a particularly large bottle of brandy.
Even though he is 650 miles to the north of me, I can hear my friend Danny laughing.
Of course, it doesn’t help that the Sharks score two goals in the first 17 seconds of the 2 nd period. Coach V. does a mercy-pull and Sanford comes in. And perhaps it does stop the bleeding as we don’t allow the Sharks another goal in the period. It’s not like they didn’t have chances but Sanford is relaxed…hell, he’s got nothing to lose.
There will be fans that will want to package Corey Schneider up with Patrick White and our 7 th round pick from 2015 for Vinny LeCavalier. Like that’s going to happen. Relax folks. The kid is still learning…learning what it’s like to be hung out to dry by your team. It wasn’t necessarily Schneider’s fault in the first period and 17 seconds. It was a team effort…or lack of effort. And don’t lose sight of the fact that we are not the first team to be embarrassed this year. The Calgary Flames virtually turned their season around after the Sharks smacked them a few weeks ago. And San Jose was just schooled six zip by a Detroit team that we have played fairly even this year.
Every dog has his day.
And this was San Jose’s day. The third period was a wash. We played better. We actually got one decent scoring chance on a Daniel Sedin deflection. But if we are to learn something from this benchmark game, it is that we cannot take a game off. Or a period…or even one shift.
We aren’t that good.
The Dawg’s Three Stars
1) Patrick Marleau…remember last year? Everyone included him in trade packages.
2) Joe Thorton…Jumbo Joe is still the man.
3) Evgeni Nabokov…the cliché is true. There are no easy shutouts.
Unsung Hero …#7 of the Canucks