Monday, February 7, 2011

Niemi Heating Up In Net

The San Jose Sharks have been on fire as of late. They have won 7 of 8 games and are riding an 8-game point streak dating back to before the All-Star break. You can attribute the success of the team to many things, maybe the spark of the recent additions of Ben Eager and Kyle Wellwood, maybe the relentless play of Logan Couture, or maybe it's the recent fire that has been lit from under the defensemen of the Sharks. But I will give the credit to goalie Antti Niemi. Not because he has been incredibly unstoppable in net, because he hasn't, but because of his consistent play between the pipes. That is holding the opponent to less than 3 goals a game.

Finally some consistency!

It's been a rough year for goalies of the San Jose Sharks, production-wise that is. Before the season, the answer to the question "Who is the #1 goalie?" was the same no matter who you asked. It was simple. The Sharks have two goalies, Antero Niittymaki and Antti Niemi. Both are similar in talent. Both will share the load. There is no #1 goalie. Shoot me.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Boston Can't Stop Surging Sharks

If the San Jose Sharks weren't regarded as one of the hottest teams in the NHL yesterday, then they will be today. The Sharks shut-out the Boston Bruins in Boston on Saturday, giving them an 8-game point streak and winners of 7 of 8.

It seems like things are finally picking up for the Sharks. After a disappointing 1st half of the season that Sharks fans hadn't seen in years, the team has turned it around in the 2nd half. San Jose just isn't used to it, and neither is the Sharks front office. Just a few games after GM Doug Wilson called out his team's effort on the ice, the Sharks have since been nearly unbeatable. They are controlling the game and have kicked up the energy on both offense and defense since the All-Star break.

The win against Boston, one of the elites in the East, on Saturday solidified the Sharks as one of the hotter teams in the league, and they are doing it on the road. Currently on a 7-game road trip, the Sharks were hoping just to stay afloat during this time and praying for a successful March in which more than most of their games are at home. Not the case now. The Sharks smell blood and have jumped from 8th place in the West to 4th in just 4 games. That can be attributed to the jam-packed Western Conference or the Sharks good play. I prefer the latter.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Reality: Ellis Not Making All-Star Team

Around this time every year, the debate is not whether or not Monta Ellis deserves to make the All-Star team, but will he actually physically make the team?

Ellis is averaging 25.1 ppg and is 6th in scoring in the NBA. That's certainly enough to get him in, right? Wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong.

Ellis should not make the team. As the NBA community sees it, the Western Conference All-Star team will come down to 4 players: Derron Williams, Russell Westbrook, Manu Ginobli, and Monta Ellis. Williams is arguably the best point guard in the NBA, so he's in. Ginobli is arguably the best player on the best team in the NBA, so he's in. So it comes down to

Monday, January 31, 2011

Sharks Must Carry Hot Play Into Second Half Of The Season

The All-Star break couldn't have come at a worse time for the San Jose Sharks. Riding a 5-game point streak and playing some of their best hockey all season, the Sharks hope to continue their good play Tuesday against the Coyotes.

We will find out very early, and I mean Wednesday, if the Sharks "were who we thought they were," as they embark on a 7-game roadtrip spanning 2 weeks where they will see the likes of Tim Thomas and the Bruins and Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals.

Although they will not be playing very tough cometition on this roadtrip, it will be nice to how they react to not only the adversity of the 8th spot in the Western Conference, but also if they will continue their good play after the All-Star break.

With just around 30 games to play in the season, the Sharks must turn their season around after having a dismal first-half, by Sharks' standards. That starts tomorrow.

Players that should have performed in the first half must perform in the second half, such as Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Dany Heatley. Ya know, the former "best top-line in hockey."

This team shouldn't be led by in mostly every offensive category by rookie Logan Couture. Although it's great and the future is bright, where are the team's leaders? Why is Couture leading with 22 goals on a team with names like Heatley and Marleau?! We're just not used to it.

It all needs to change in the second half.

Looking forward, hopefully the All-Star break didn't slow their roll because the Sharks were playing outstanding. The offense was meshing, the defense was shut down, and goalie Antti Niemi was solid in net.

It will be a long 32 games left in the season. 8 points separates 6th place from second-to-last place in the West so a lot can change very quickly.

Accept the high's and low's from the Sharks the rest of the way, but hopefully more high's than low's for a team not accustomed to struggling to make the playoffs.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What If Aaron Rodgers was drafted by the 49ers?

It's hard to say as to what would happen if the 49ers had taken Aaron Rodgers out of Cal with the #1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. Rodgers is now headed to the Super Bowl as a Green Bay Packer, and Alex Smith, who the 49ers ended up drafting, is at home on his couch hoping to have a job next season. Hindsight is 20/20.

This topic has been up to much debate since Rodgers and the Packers punched their ticket to Super Bowl XLV. If the 49ers had drafted Rodgers, what would have happened? If Alex Smith was a Packer, what would have happened?

Rodgers may have been the smart pick by the 49ers because he was from a pro-style offense at Cal, while Smith was exclusively in the spread offense at Utah with next to no competition to play against. Smith was book-smart and Rodgers had an attitude. That means nothing now.

Rodgers was able to learn behind Favre, which is the reason for his success. Smith was able to learn behind...Tim Rattay and Ken Dorsey? That is where the two players' careers differ.

I am not saying if Smith was on the Packers they would be heading to the Super Bowl. Never. And I'm not saying if Rodgers was on the 49ers they would be heading to the Super Bowl. Get real. Neither would be.

Smith would be better than he is today because he would have had the tutelage of Favre, and Rodgers would have fit much better in the 49er system than Smith did, yet not as good as he is today because he would have been thrown into the fire that is the NFL when he was not ready, just like Smith was.

If the draft had gone that way, neither would be in the Super Bowl and neither team would have been any good, although in the weak NFC West I would think that with Rodgers the 49ers would have won their division this year only by default.

I would predict the two quarterbacks to have similar success today if the two players had been drafted differently. The 49ers would be winning maybe a couple more games, and the Packers losing a couple more games.

All that can be said is that when Rodgers was sitting there on draft day waiting to be drafted for what seemed like forever, it payed off, because now he is headed to the Super Bowl. And the quarterback that was taken well ahead of him and received more recognition and more money for going #1 overall that day may be looking for a job soon. It's funny how things turn out.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Last Night's Game Proves You Cannot Count Out The Sharks

The San Jose Sharks are holding on to the 9th spot in the Western Conference at 53 points. Yet, last night's game in Vancouver shows that this team still has what it takes to get to the playoffs and be an elite team in the West.

In one of the more entertaining games of the year, the Sharks behind goalie Antti Niemi came away with a shootout victory in Vancouver against arguably the best team in the NHL.

The Canucks are fast, play great defense, and get consistently good goalie play from Roberto Luongo. But last night, the Sharks were just as fast, played one of their better defensive games, and saw Niemi come alive in net.

Coming into the game, it was the defense of the Sharks that lacked. Now, after a performance like that last night, where does the front office go from here? They need a defenseman. We know this. But might all-around good play from the team be the missing piece?

The Sharks have looked lack-luster and slow on the ice, and have looked out of sync with each other all season. They still look out of sync offensively, but the defense was beautiful last night. Something they have been looking for all season.

Now on a 3-game winning streak, the team seems to be coming together as they head back home. Do not count this team out. They are too loaded with rich talent and good young players to be poo-pooed with this many games to play in the season.

One thing is for sure. Coach Todd McClellan has made all the right moves lately. It's too bad he didn't start panicking sooner.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Panda Dropping Lbs.; I'll Believe It When I See It

Haven't heard news from your World Series Champion Giants in awhile? This should make you happy. Remember that meatball playing 3rd base last season for the Giants? I think Sandoval was his last name? Yeah, well, word is he has dropped 22 lbs. in "Operation Panda Try #2."

Rish Aurilia said he saw him around Christmas time in an Arizona mall and he said he had lost 17 lbs. Now in January, sources are saying it is up to 22 lbs.

Whatever the number is, my answer to it is "I'll believe it when I see it," with my second answer being "I don't care. Talk to me in spring training. We'll see what his weight is then."

It's true, "Operation Panda" has already happened...last year. Same thing, reports were he had lost weight, but when he showed up to spring training, nothing had changed. And a lousy season followed.

Even if he did lose the weight, he must keep it off, all the while adjusting his swing. There's a lot on his plate.

It would be great for the Giants if the weight-loss was true. Having a healthy and fit Panda would do wonders for a still unsexy line-up. But we'll separate truth from rumor sometime during the third week of February, when position players report to camp.