Contrary to popular belief, sportswriting is hard work. Finding unique angles, analyzing statistics, transcribing interviews and quotes — it’s not just watching the game and writing your opinion. It can definitely make for some hard days and long nights.
Saturday night, however, was not one of those nights.
I can’t go any further in this post without sending a big thank you to Amici’s for having myself, my fiance, Bay Area Sports Guy, Sports Girl Liz and all of our contest winners into their luxury box for the Sharks-Coyotes game. My only other experience sitting in a luxury box was watching a Giants game in the early 90’s. Not only was I way too young to appreciate it or even carve it into my memory, it was at Candlestick Park, a stadium rarely connected with the word “luxury.”
This was something else entirely. The Pacific Suite was unbelievable. Set right above section 209 (behind the net where the Sharks shoot twice), a fan couldn’t really ask for a better vantage point. There was plenty of delicious food and drinks to go around, comfortable seats, good conversation and best of all, no one to scold me for leaning forward in my seat.
Seriously, try watching hockey without leaning forward. It’s impossible.
I’ve mastered the art of being completely objective about the Sharks when it comes time to be, but if you were watching the game in the Pacific Suite with me you can see where my decision to write about this team was born. I decided to unleash the fan deep inside me Saturday night; after all, the team appears to be on it’s way back to relevance and quite frankly, I’m really tired of writing these curmudgeonous posts about losing efforts.
Luckily, our viewing experience with Amici’s resulted in a very exciting win. The Sharks have won four-straight games and have climbed up to sixth in the Western Conference.
About that game…
Todd McLellan must not subscribe to the expression “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” After three-straight extremely convincing wins, McLellan went line-shuffling again.
— He sent Brent Burns back to the blue line after nine very successful games at forward. He did say the initial move wouldn’t be permanent, but I was thinking more along the lines of sending Burns back after he stopped producing at forward. Guess not.
— Equally curious was moving Adam Burish into Burns’ spot next to Joe Thornton on the top line. The Sharks were 3-0 since McLellan started scratching Burish, but he must have been impressive on the bench because he came back and jumped from the fourth line to a top-six forward spot.
— Oops! I wasn’t supposed to be a curmudgeon, was I?
Phoenix jumped out to an early lead while San Jose just seemed to lack chemistry. The scoring prowess they showed over the first few games disappeared. Had it not been for Joe Pavelski’s second period power play goal, I’m not sure how long San Jose would have held on.
Still, the push back from the Sharks was impressive, and they did it twice. After falling behind again in the opening seconds of the third frame, the Sharks tied it up again, this time with a very late goal from Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
And the possible outcomes were a forgone conclusion by the ten-minute mark of the third: the Sharks were either going to lose a close one or go to overtime. Of course, like so many Sharks games (especially home games) this season, it made it all the way to a shootout where the game was won thanks to a very nice wrister from Logan Couture and a couple big stops from Antti Niemi.
Honorable mention: If Dan Boyle had scored this, it would have been a top-10 goal on NHL network for the next year: