Monday, November 07, 2005

More Views from the Press Box

We continue our look at the ins and outs of the press box from Ray Flowers. ~SW

OK, I broke down and did it, I had my first press box hotdog on Saturday, November 5th, 2005 when the Sharks played the Minnesota Wild (a 3-1 victory for the Wild which you can read about below). I know this might seem to be a rather strange comment to make, but haven’t you ever wondered about those spinning hotdogs at a sporting event? I know I have.

Anyway, game two of my reporting experience for Face Off Hockey Show required less antacid tablets than the first game, which was a pleasing experience, at least for me. I knew where I was going, I knew how to act, now if I can just figure out how to find a way to get my hand-held recorder to pick up the players voice in after game interviews (they talk so softly), everything will be gravy.

My first game I was ready and brought about every piece of equipment I could think of (I kind of looked like someone going on a two week trip to Hawaii, minus the flip-flops). This time I was a more experienced “traveler” and I brought my laptop, a notebook and my trusty recorder. Heck, at least I looked the part this time.

It’s a surreal experience to be a reporter at a place that I have been going to for years as a fan. I look out amongst the crowd and think to myself ‘that was me a year ago, who would of thought I would be reporting now?’ Of course, that thought passes quickly when the action starts. I do have a job to do.

I thought it might be beneficial to list some of the finer points of being a media member reporting on a Sharks event at the Tank.

1- You can wander pretty much anywhere you want within reason. I’m thinking about helping out the food workers in making some killer nachos next time I go.

2. People see you in a tie, and with something hanging from your neck (a press pass), and they think that you are the coolest person they have spoken to since they had that drug induced conversation with Abraham Lincoln in college.

3. Hey, they might serve only hotdogs and pretzels in the Press Box, but free food is free food.

4. You know how you go to a game and some crucial play goes down where you can’t tell if the puck went in the net or not? You look at the jumbotron for a replay but instead they show some guy stuffing popcorn in his mouth because they don’t want to start a riot if the referee made the wrong call. How infuriating is that! Well, in the press box you have a 27-inch TV mere feet from your seat. So now that I know whether or not the referee blew the call another problem arises. I’m a reporter and I can’t yell at him if he did blow the call, it wouldn’t be professional. Damn it.

5. How many times has your bladder told you it needed to make a pit stop, but you couldn’t leave your seat because of the game. Well, in the Press Box there are no lines to contend with so I don’t have to make an agreement with a higher power that if I can just hold out a few minutes longer I’ll name by first kid Moses.

With the frivolities out of they way I thought you might actually like to hear about what happened on the ice. If you do, please read on.


“We weren’t at 100%…we didn’t have the same zip” said coach Ron Wilson after the game. The Sharks lost on Saturday night to the Minnesota Wild 3-1 as Brian Rolston had his first hat trick since Nov. 16, 1996. It was the Sharks first loss in their last 6 games and the first career loss for goalie Nolan Schaefer (5-1) who had become the first Sharks netminder to start his career with 5 consecutive wins. After going 5-1 in their past 6 games, the Sharks pushed their record to 8-6 with 1 OT loss and solidified their position as a team to be reckoned with in the Western Conference.

However, the Sharks find themselves with a bit of a problem, though it is one that every team in the NHL would like to have. The Sharks don’t just have two superb goalies, they have three. In essence, Nolan Schaefer has helped to save the Sharks season with the injuries they have suffered in net to Evgeni Nabakov and Vesa Toskala. Besides starting his career with that amazing 5 game wining streak, Schaefer punctuated the statement that he didn’t want to be sent back to the AHL was a netminder to be reckoned with a scoreless streak of over 143 minutes, just shy of the team record held by Nabakov (145:07). With Toskala back off the IR on Saturday and Nabakov set to come off the list later this week, it would appear that Schaefer will however be sent down to the Barons of the AHL despite his heroics. The Sharks know that they have an ace up their sleeve should anything happen to their top 2 netminders the rest of the way, and it might even open up some trade possibilities come the stretch drive.

The Sharks weren’t the only team with special goaltending on Saturday as the Wild had Dwayne Roloson in net. Roloson, who splits time with Manny Fernandez in net, forms the best goaltending duo in the NHL. With a combined record of 8-6 with a 1.98 GAA and a .938 save percentage (each has played in 8 games), there is no disputing the fact that there was an embarrassment on riches in goal on display at the Tank on Saturday night.

Despite the talent in net, the Sharks felt they could solve Roloson if they followed their game plan. Unfortunately for the Sharks, they didn’t. “You have to be very patient when you play them…most of our shots were low when we should have been shooting high” said coach Wilson.

Despite the loss ending their 5 game winning streak, the Sharks took time to reflect on the positives rather than dwelling on the negatives. Here are some salvos fired by Coach Wilson on two of his other promising rookies (besides Schaefer).

On Marcel Goc who scored the Sharks only goal: “He is always on the right side of the puck.” Wilson also commented that Goc had really improved his skating and was starting to have the look of a player who would have a long and productive NHL career.

On Steve Bernier, playing in just his second NHL game: “He goes hard to the net…[he] deserves his promotion and probably deserves a longer look. For the guys who haven’t played so well it’s a wake-up call.”

So despite the lose the Sharks future looks bright in the net, and don’t forget about the youngsters up front either.

Ray Flowers, a member of the Society for International Hockey Research (SIHR) and the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA), can be reached with comments and questions at: Don’t forget to check out his website for more NHL analysis and fantasy hockey insights.

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