Joe Pavelski and Dany Heatley congratulate Patrick Marleau on his fifth successful human smile.
Today you can begin voting for the Sharks' new "Fan Favorite" award. Everyone can vote one time, using their phone or the web. You pick your favorite player and if you pick the player that ends up getting the most votes you can win a prize. It's a neat activity for the fans as well as a potentially fascinating large-scale game of the Prisoner's Dilemma. I will be shocked if anyone other than Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau, or Joe Thornton win this award. I think Joe Pavelski's popularity has waned somewhat with the rise of Couture, so it won't be him. Ryane Clowe has an outside shot, but it's doubtful. Douglas Murray deserves a bunch of votes, but he won't win. So if you want to win the grand prize you probably want to vote for Couture, Marleau, or Thornton.
I'm with Marleau.
Only Patrick Marleau possesses the combination of clutch scoring, team history, and in-your-face attitude to be a true fan favorite.
In other news, the Sharks play ten of their final sixteen games at home, which is cool. The Sharks are a respectable 17-11-3 in San Jose so playing there should work out well for the team - except that their road record is 21-11-3, so who really cares?
Good teams win, regardless of where the game is played. The Sharks are a good team, and so they were able to win eight out of the ten road games they played in February. In fact the team really seemed to begin playing better during their extended road trip, which leads you to wonder about the possible truth behind those cliches people bring up about teams "bonding" while out on the road.
The biggest advantage of playing so many games at home in the final month of the season will be the ability for guys to rest and recover. A lot of players are banged-up in one way or another, and even those that are healthy will benefit from more days in their homes and fewer days traveling. That rest will be important, too, as the Sharks play their final eight regular-season games against Pacific Division opponents.
Good job, NHL schedule-makers. That's pretty awesome.
Finally, I attended my first-ever professional basketball game on Saturday** for a friend's party. I watched the Los Angeles Clippers play against the Denver Nuggets, I think. I'm pretty sure the Clippers won, but I wouldn't place money on it. I had a hard time following what was going on.
If I was going to rank the four major professional sports in terms of which I enjoy watching the most, the list would go:
2-4. Read a book or go play freeze tag.
But if someone seriously made me decide which of the non-hockey sports is the most tolerable to watch, I guess it would have to be football. I enjoy the military strategy and physical toughness present in football, I just wish they wouldn't ruin it with all the stupid rules and stuff that bogs down the game. Bring back the XFL!
Baseball is the worst sport to watch, because it is so boring it can actually kill.
Basketball is unique among the major sports in that teams are scoring almost constantly. Attending a basketball game is odd because the big crowd cheers mostly seem to come from dunks and blocks, which are exciting but don't actually matter much in terms of the game as a whole. It's hard to get too excited about any individual basket when there are so many of them scored in a game. The entire game is based on momentum, with both teams scoring so many times that each individual point usually means very little.
Basically what I'm trying to say is that basketball sucks and it's just as boring in person as on TV.
Prediction: Hockey Rules! Sharks beat the Clippers 4-2, with one goal from Vlasic and a three-pointer from Patrick Marleau.
* = or at least make your own cool Sharks propaganda poster to support your choice. If it's awesome enough, I may change my vote. That's called democracy.
** = unless the Harlem Globetrotters count as a professional basketball team, which I think they should.