The lights were bright at HP Pavilion last night for the 2008 Teal & White Game, the San Jose Sharks' annual celebration of autographs, open seating and recreational skating. It wasn't the most entertaining game, but we saw a few quality chances and Joe Pavelski came up with some late heroics, recording a goal and an assist in Team White's 2-0 victory. Thank goodness we didn't see another scoreless tie like last season. I also didn't hear any boos near the end of the game, so that was another improvement over last year's debacle. Ultimately, it gave fans a chance to see the team in action and take in the first game of the year at the Tank, so who can complain, right?
- It was very strange seeing Rob Blake in teal. Honestly, it's something you have to actually see to believe, and my brain is still adjusting to it after seeing him in L.A. Kings black for so many years. Plus, you have to wonder if he'll switch over to #4 once Kyle McLaren is moved.
- Jeff Friesen got a very nice round of applause from the home crowd, but it was nothing compared to Nabokov's standing ovation. Very nice job by the San Jose fans saluting the guy who held everything together last year. A smattering of boos were audible for Marleau, Semenov and Shelley.
- I liked seeing the contrasting styles of announcers Dan Rusanowsky and Randy Hahn, two of the best play-by-play guys in the league. Rusanowsky is an East Coast guy - talking a lot, giving you plenty of details, very excitable. Hahn is more West coast - laid back, very direct, looking like he'd just come from the beach. He also provided the best line of the night after the game, saying, "Sharkie my man, my girl, whatever Sharkie is."
- Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelski were the best players on the ice. Boyle went through the entire team a couple times (no spin-o-rama required) and was really strong at the point on the power play, holding the puck in and controlling it. Pavelski is going to have a monster year, and it was a huge mistake burying him on the fourth line for the majority of the 2007-08 season. He doesn't waste time making decisions, and it was great to see him pick the corner on the 2-on-1 rather than passing up the shot.
- Wine is available at HP Pavilion, but that doesn't mean it should be consumed. Seriously, wine at a hockey game? What is this, Anaheim? I was seated comfortably until a guy who'd slugged a little merlot came over and tried to sit in my lap. Look Joe Namath, I may have a round belly and jolly demeanor, but that doesn't make me Santa Claus. Then the guy starts spouting off about what he's going to be for Halloween. If you're old enough to unabashedly drink wine at a hockey game, you shouldn't be discussing Halloween costumes before October.
- Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Joe Thornton were the worst players on the ice. Obviously Big Joe can play however he wants, and you don't want 60 percent of your offense going down with an injury in a meaningless game. Still, it would have been nice to see him give the fans a couple shifts of effort rather than dumping the puck or turning it over lazily. Thornton was disinterested, but Vlasic was just flat-out terrible and I'm worried about him because he seems to have forgotten how to move the puck out of his own end. I counted at least eight turnovers, and he looks really hesitant out there with the puck.
- I've blown a few headlines, so I know how it feels to produce 20,000 copies of something with a glaring spelling mistake on it. Still, you can take some a positive from the "Who's side are you on?" shirts. Baseball cards skyrocket in value when player names are misspelled or typos occur, so the mistake probably increased the value of those 2008 Teal & White Game shirts from 50 cents to at least 75 or 80.
- The no-contact, low-intensity setting was a perfect venue for them to shine, and Plihal and Goc looked really good together, working the puck around and setting up chances. Grier, after looking really good in the first scrimmage on Saturday, kept falling down and couldn't make a decent pass all night.
- Cory Larose was buzzing around the net and did some nice forechecking. The veteran center should see a lot of ice in Worcester this year and showed some good chemistry with wingers Jamie McGinn and Brad Staubitz.
- Trust me friends, don't ever buy a used car in Ukiah. Every time I get up over 85 mph my car stinks like pot.
- Logan Couture didn't show me anything last night. A player selected ninth overall in the NHL Entry Draft shouldn't necessarily blow you away, but he should distinguish himself from the rest of the prospects. If you take the names and numbers off everyone's back his play should stand out and make you take notice. Couture needs to get a lot stronger, and has to show he has a purpose when the puck is on his stick.
- Roenick, Kyle McLaren and Lukowich were scratches, and you have to be a little concerned, especially with Mitchell out of action. Based on the first four days of camp, here's what the team (and my lines) would look like if I had to cut it down to 30 players.
Injured/Limbo: Roenick, Lukowich, Mitchell, McLaren