Although I love to be a part of the gameday threads (especially tonight- 69 comments is most definitely a record), I was present at tonight's game. I know, I know, you feel so sorry for me. It's a tough life that I lead. Tragedy for all of us.
To make things up to you (even though I doubt few of you actually care/noticed), I'm going to commit myself to these post game posts. Hopefully I'll be able to write something up for all the games I attend this season. Please, excuse any typos or poor sentence structure- this one took a lot out of me.
Now, really, I'm not trying to rub it in, but this was easily one of the best games I've ever been to. Although the Sharks definitely came out flat tonight, they showed some real toughness that they hadn't really needed at any other point this season. They not only made up for their sloppy play early on, but they also overcame all the additional factors that were out of their control. It was frustrating to see the refs calling the ticky-tack penalties (see Cheechoo, hooking), yet allow the stuff that everyone in the rink knew should have been called. It was a disappointing showing from the zebra men tonight.
But the Sharks, as they have done all season, rose above adversity and played their hearts out. It was very comforting to see that the boys in teal could recover after a messy first few minutes and defeat a good young team that was firing on all cylinders and itching to get a win.
The Blues may not be the Wings or the Penguins; however, I think this win says more about the Sharks than the wins against those teams did. The Blues couldn't have played much better than they tonight, and the Sharks were still able to tack two more points into their league leading total. The Sharks never had a lead until Ryan Clowe's shootout goal....and that is flat out impressive.
Enough with the broad view, I'll hit the specifics:
*Setoguchi Is A Shit Disturber: Excuse the language, but there is no other way to describe him. I was quite impressed with the way he plays the game; he's not only getting his own chances to score, but his physical play in the offensive end is creating room for his teammates to work the puck around. When he's on the ice, you can almost guarantee that there will be one time where he gets the puck and you have no idea how it happened. It's magic, I swear. I think he's playing a bigger role on the first line than many realize....he is the spark plug for this team.
*Bigger Clowe, Big Difference: Clowe hit the weights hard this offseason, and it's paying off. I have to admit that I was skeptical about how his skill set would translate into the New-Sharks Way, but I was so wrong. He is perfect for the team in the fact that he matches his skill with his size, powering through traffic and putting away any rebound he gets a blade on. He might work harder than anyone else on the ice (although Cheech's incessant breathing in, puffing out looks like he's playing through perpetual child birth). Expect more from Jumbo Clowe.
*Poke Check, Poke Check, Poke Check: I understand that many of you would like to see the Sharks get a little more physical at times, but I'm quite pleased with what I'm seeing out of the D. They are closing up lanes in a hurry, preventing shots and creating turnovers like crazy. The stick work has really improved, and that's contributing to the low shot numbers more than anything else. There's not much I would change about their play, but If I could see something more out of the D, I would ask for some blocked shots. Very few Sharks intentionally put their body in front of the puck tonight.
All in all, great game. Hats off to RC for his pseudo hat trick.
Last note: seeing a 6'7 goalie in action was extremely strange.
Feel free to comment, and let me know if you have any things that you would like some first-hand perspective on.