My Two Cents for January 21st:
Sharks Take Season Opener- With their season opener delayed by 113 days, the San Jose Sharks behind an impressive outing by Goalie Antti Niemi and two timely goals by Patrick Marleau took care of business against the Calgary Flames in a 4-1 win. The Sharks and Flames played before a hockey starved full house at the Saddledome in Alberta. Marleau’s two goals, the first being the result of a power play and the second which gave the Sharks a two goal lead were instrumental in getting team teal off on the right foot in starting the truncated 2012-13 season. Martin Havlat and Dan Boyle added goals to give the Sharks their opening day victory.
Niemi Hot Early- The game started out with the Flames being the team fast out of the gate and testing Niemi early and often. Niemi faced 10 shots on goal through the first ten minutes of the opening period while the Sharks could just manage one shot on Calgary Goalie and former Shark Miikka Kiprusoff. Niemi kept the Sharks in the game with one solid save after the other as the Flames attack seemed to catch the Sharks off balance for much of the period. The Flames would go on to outshoot San Jose 16-9 in the first period. The Flames opened the scoring after Havlat was called for goalie interference on Kiprusoff. The Sharks managed to kill of most of the penalty until Calgary’s Lee Stempniak drilled the puck top shelf over Niemi on a slap shot that few goalies could have stopped. The Flames would go onto carry the play though towards the end of the period you could see the Sharks regaining their focus. The Sharks were still fortunate to get out of the period just down 1-0. The highlight of the opening period for the Sharks were Niemi’s saves on Jarome Iginla who had two point blank tries at the net.
Sharks Turn Up The Heat- As the second period began the Sharks started to pick up their pace and launch more pucks at Kirpusoff. The Flames goalie made some solid saves early to help Calgary keep the lead. However the Sharks seemed very determined to get the puck in the net even after some near misses in the first half of the second period. The Sharks would get a power play with just over six minutes remaining in the period. The Flames Chris Butler was called for a two minute roughing minor. The Sharks would only need six seconds as Marleau took a pass from Couture at the front of the Calgary goal and stuffed the puck underneath Kiprusoff to tie the game. The Sharks kept the pressure on Calgary there after and it would pay off quickly. Havlat would take the rebound of Ryane Clowe’s shot in front of the net and knocked it in to Kirpusoff’s left side to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead. Later in the period the Sharks would add to the lead thanks to Marleau’s second goal of the game. Marleau again would stuff the puck underneath Kiprusoff after getting the rebound of Boyle’s shot from the point. Joe Pavelski would also notch an assist.
The Sharks Shut It Down- The Sharks with a two goal cushion would take care of business in the final period. Calgary would get a number of scoring chances early on, only to see Niemi on top of his game. Niemi would face 12 more shots on goal from the Flames but would deny all attempts including a few at close range. The Sharks added the coup de grace when Boyle would drill in his first goal of the season in the games final minute after a bad Flames penalty late. In the game Niemi made 31 saves and was clearly one of the stars of the night as the Sharks opened up their season with that all important first win in game one of 48. Niemi got the number three star of the game while Marleau got the first star. The second star went the to Flames’ Stempniak. The Sharks second game of the season takes place about 145 miles to the northeast of Calgary as the Sharks take on the Edmonton Oilers Tuesday evening (January 22nd). After this brief roadie in Western Canada, the Sharks will open their season at the Tank with the visiting Phoenix Coyotes Thursday evening (January 24th).
NHL Opening Weekend Goes Better Than Expected- The NHL officially got going with three games this past Saturday afternoon. It all started with the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings receiving their well earned championship rings, and raising their first ever Championship banner in the franchises 45 years of existence. It was a good classy ceremony as the team passed the Stanley Cup one final time around the rink before giving it back to the NHL’s trusties for it’s return trip to the NHL Hall of Fame in Toronto. Once the ceremony was over, it was time for the LA Kings to get down to business. What lied ahead was maybe just the immediate effect of a Stanley Cup hangover. The Chicago Blackhawks three seasons removed from a Stanley Cup title themselves laid the wood on the home standing Kings. Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Michael Frolik staked the Blackhawks to a 3-0 first period lead as they would go on to a 5-2 win over the defending champion Kings. Jonathan Quick had a tough day as he gave up the three first period goals on nine shots. To add insult to injury, he gave up another goal just two minutes into the second period to Jonathan Toews. The Kings will certainly have better days than yesterday and they will be in the hunt to repeat all season long.
NHL games were played before sell out crowds at each venue from Boston, to Montreal, to both Tampa Bay and Miami. In Tampa Bay, the Lightning got three third period goals from Martin St Louis, Cory Conacher and Eric Brewer. This broke a tie game wide open as the host Lightning beat the Washington Capitals 6-3. St. Louis and Brewer had two goals each for Tampa Bay. Meanwhile some 280 miles to the southeast the Florida Panthers would use a four goal first period to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-1. The Boston Bruins got a solid performance from their new starting goalie Tuukka Rask. Rask made 20 saves in Boston’s 3-1 win over the visiting New York Rangers. In the renewal of an age old original six rivalry between Toronto and Montreal, Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak scored for the Maple Leafs while goalie Ben Scrivens made 21 saves. Toronto would go on to a 2-1 win over the Canadiens. The loudest early message sent this weekend came out of St Louis where the Blues just manhandled and beat up the stalwart Detroit Red Wings. The Blues would delight the home crowd with a 6-0 beat down of a proud franchise that hardly ever loses any game by six goals. Vladimir Tarasenko and Chris Stewart scored two goals each, and Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak stopped all 14 shots he faced. That’s right, just 14 shots which is a good indication of the type of defense the Blues may have. Their message last night was simple, that last year wasn’t a fluke. The Sharks of course know that first hand having gotten their clocks cleaned by the Blues in eight of nine games counting the playoffs last season.
Deep in the heart of Texas Jaromir Jagr and original Shark Ray Whitney showed that age is not a factor to them. Both players are just over 40 years of age as each one scored in the Stars 4-3 home opening win over the Phoenix Coyotes. Jagr scored twice to help the Stars who are looking to try and crack the playoff bubble this season. In Vancouver meanwhile it seems that their is a bit of a problem concerning the goalie position. Under the belief that longtime starting goalie Roberto Luongo would soon be relocating once the Canucks could find a trading partner and get some value in return for him, Vancouver named Cory Schneider this seasons starter between the pipes. As it turned out, it would be Schneider and the Canucks taking the pipe as the Anaheim Ducks chased the Vancouver starter with two goals in 11 seconds in a very ugly second period. The Ducks would go on to blow out Vancouver 7-3. The Canucks are going to need to re-evaluate the situation as they needed to turn to a goalie they have been trying to move. Those plans may have changed after the opening game. In Nashville, the Columbus Blue Jackets gave their fan base some relieve by guaranteeing they will not go 0-48-0 this season. The Blue Jackets played the home standing Predators very hard Saturday Night and the ultimate result would be a 3-2 victory for a team which is supposed to be the worst in the NHL. The Blue Jackets got goals from Nick Foligno and Artem Anisimov in regulation before Derick Brassard’s game winner in the sixth round of the shootout period.
The New Jersey Devils, the defending Eastern Conference Champions opened their season with a 2-1 win over the home standing New York Islanders. Travis Zajac and David Clarkson scored for the Devils as stalwart goalie Martin Brodeur made 18 saves. The losing goalie was former Shark net minder Evgeni Nabokov. The Devils despite the loss of Zach Parise in the offseason are determined to show that they are a team to contend with even without their former captain. Meanwhile, Parise’s new team the Minnesota Wild opened their season with a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche before a sell out crowd in St Paul. Another former Shark, Dany Heatley had a big night scoring twice for the Wild. Parise had an assist on both of Heatley’s goals. Another former Shark, Devin Setoguchi had an assist also.
Bettman At Kings Opener, Stays Out Of Sight- Interesting sidelight to the Los Angeles Kings Pre-Game Ceremony on Saturday. In case anybody was wondering whether or not Commissioner Gary Bettman was there, the answer was yes. However, Bettman did not make an appearance in the ceremony and pretty much stayed out of the way and out of sight. It seems maybe that Bettman realizes that he’s not going to be welcomed by any of the fans in any NHL city anytime in the near future, and rightfully so. Though it’s great to finally have the NHL back to it’s rightful place on the ice after a 113 day lockout, Bettman has to realize that he’s not going to be exactly welcomed anywhere he goes. Bettman is a pox on the league and truthfully he did not really win the lockout, but the fans sure as heck know they lost out and probably aren’t going to forgive Bettman anytime soon. Remember, Bettman was not the hero at the negotiating table, and neither was Donald Fehr. What we all saw this weekend was what the fans had truly had missed. This was all because of something that had either side of the table been a serious businessman, this agreement could have been hammered out well over a year ago. It’s all water under the bridge and thankfully in the rear view mirror now (and fading out of sight). However, Bettman is only going to be a distraction if he shows up at any NHL venue. Bettman if he’s not going to step down as the league’s Commissioner should at least step aside and stay out of the way going forward.
Bettman should also exclude himself from all NHL activities that are open to the fans, season ticket holders for all teams and the general public. Bettman should no longer be handing out the Stanley Cup anymore nor should he even be allowed to touch it. It’s like that line towards the end of the movie “The Wedding Singer” when Adam Sandler tells his ex-girlfriend to “Take off (his) Van Halen Shirt before you jinx the band.” I feel the same way about Bettman with the Cup. All Bettman can do now is continue to be a pox and a jinx to the league. If Bill Daly replaces Bettman as Commissioner one day, nothing will change. The only sensible thing to do is get a man who truly knows and loves the sport to be the next commissioner. The NHL needs a real hockey man in the Commissioner’s Seat, and not some over glorified lawyer and marketing mogul. The CBA is good for the next ten years, and I just hope that somewhere in that time span Bettman will finally step down. I’m not holding my breath on this one, but it would be nice if Bettman would just leave. He cannot help the league any longer and is only hurting it by remaining. If Bettman made the choice to stay out of sight and out of mind during the Kings Banner and Ring Ceremony, then that’s a good call on his part, and one of the very few he’s made.
Spartans Puck- The San Jose State Spartans Hockey Club has resumed play this month and just completed a 3-0-0 road trip. The Spartans traveled to Southern California and took on the San Diego State Aztecs this past Friday Night. The Spartans would win a rare low scoring contest over the Aztecs 2-1. The Spartans then traveled north to the Harbor City area to take on Loyola-Marymount Lions. Again, the Spartans were dominant in an 8-2 victory. The Spartans rapped up the three game trip Saturday by beating the College of the Canyons in Valencia 7-6. In this game the Spartans had to hang on at they almost blew a 7-2 lead late. If you are in the San Jose area and wish to sample Spartans Club Hockey, you will have an excellent chance this weekend as the Spartans will have four games in four days at Sharks Ice. The homestand will begin with a match against the Oregon Ducks this Thursday (January 24th). The next three nights will see the Spartans host San Diego State (Friday), Utah State (Saturday) and UNLV (Sunday). For more information and tickets please visit www.sjsuhockey.net. The Spartans are ranked seventh in the Western Region.
Non Hockey Item: Congratulations to the San Francisco 49ers!- The 49ers Sunday defeated the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game winning 28-24. The 49ers with the win advance to their sixth Super Bowl in franchise history, as well as their first appearance after an 18 year absence. The 49ers showed tremendous heart and character like they had not shown all season in coming back from an early second quarter 17-0 deficit. After the Falcons had completely dominated the first 15 and a half minutes of the contest, the 49ers got themselves back into the game with two touchdown drives, the first of which was an 11 play 80 yard drive. The drive was capped by a LaMichael James 15 yard TD run to cut the Falcons lead to 17-7. Later, the 49ers second touchdown drive was culminated with a TD 4 yard pass from Colin Kaepernick to Vernon Davis which closed the gap to 17-14. Falcons Quarterback Matt Ryan gave the 49ers fits all through the first half. Ryan would lead Atlanta to a late touchdown drive before the end of the first half to give the Falcons a ten point halftime lead.
In the second half the 49ers defense rose up to the occasion and shut out the Falcons on the scoreboard while the 49ers were able to take advantage of their opportunities. The 49ers took the second half kickoff and drove down field again in a seven play 82 yard drive capped off by a Frank Gore five yard touchdown run. The 49ers trailing 24-21 would miss two opportunities on a missed field goal and a fumble on the Falcon’s one yard line. Despite all of that, the red and gold were not going to be denied. The 49ers final touchdown drive was a six play 38 yard drive after a short Falcons punt. Gore capped the drive with a nine yard touchdown run that gave the 49ers their first lead of the day. The defense got tested late as the Falcons drove to the 49ers 15 yard line before two incomplete passes ended the Atlanta hopes. The 49ers win, coupled with the Baltimore Ravens 28-13 rout of the New England Patriots sets up the first ever Super Bowl where the opposing coaches also happened to be brothers. Jim Harbaugh (49ers) versus John Harbaugh (Ravens). This should be an interesting Super Bowl, or if you prefer the “HarBowl”…
For more news and information on the NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers, please visit our Fansided Affilate site Niner Noise at http://ninernoise.com/
Great Job 49ers!!! Go Get That Lombardi Trophy in New Orleans and bring home the franchises 6th title…GO 49ERS!!!
…Just My Two Cents…
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