Friday, September 18, 2015

Q Attack, Round 20 - Are Toys-to-Life Games a Fad?
When Skylanders first burst onto the video game scene, it seemed like the game was a novel idea but now, there are even more IPs in the Toys-to-Life genre. Rabbit has been collecting Skylanders since its first entry and now discusses with Tiger whether or not this new genre is a fad or here to stay.


Tiger: Rabbit, what are you doing? Look at this mess.

Rabbit: What mess?

Tiger: *points* This! There are books everywhere. Why did you pull them off of the bookcases?

Rabbit: I’m reorganizing to make room for the new Skylanders figures I’ll be getting.

Tiger: Not this again, this is worse than Assassin’s Creed games coming out every year. How many figures do you have already?

Rabbit: A little over two-hundred and fifty.

Tiger *throws hands in air* Geez! And how many are coming out with the new game?

Rabbit: At least sixty, it’s hard to say since they have vehicles this time. I’m only picking up the Dark Edition on PlayStation 4 at launch though, so I won't have a lot of figures to start.

Tiger: So you’re finally not going to buy the game twice just to get all the figures?

Rabbit: Oh, no, I’ll get SuperChargers on PlayStation 3 as well; I’ll just wait until the Black Friday sale to pick it up.

Tiger: *shakes head* When is this fad going to go away?

Rabbit: Hey! I love Skylanders, I’ve been playing since Spyro’s Adventure and have picked up every game since. They are legitimately good games and they keep getting better and better. And now there are even more IPs in the Toys-to-Life genre.

Tiger: Now we have Disney Infinity, amiibo, and LEGO Dimensions. Please tell me you aren’t going to get into those too.

Rabbit: I actually thought about Disney Infinity just for the Marvel and Star Wars licenses but I’m not a fan of the figure designs. I do love the Stitch figure, but that’s about it. I’ve also played the games and I don’t like them as well as Skylanders games. As for the amiibo figures, they only work on Nintendo platforms.

Tiger: I think it’s cool that the amiibo toys will work across multiple games, not just specific ones but the crazy news about supply issues and limited functionality in games makes them sound like a pain.

Rabbit: I feel bad for the hardcore amiibo collections. If they want the exclusive figures that come bundled with the Nintendo versions of Skylanders SuperChargers, they’ll have to buy four different starter packs.

Tiger: Wait, wait, wait. Back up a minute. Four?

Rabbit: You heard me right. The WiiU starter bundle has Donkey Kong and the 3DS/Wii starter has Bowser. Then, you have to purchase both of them in the Dark Editions to get the Dark Variant of both characters. That’s almost three-hundred and fifty dollars!

Tiger: I wonder how much the figures will sell on eBay; it’s going to be crazy.

Rabbit: As for LEGO Dimensions, that one is probably the only other Toys-to-Life game I would consider getting because see’mon, it’s LEGO!

Tiger: When I saw the Portal Level Pack, I almost died.

Rabbit: That is pretty awesome but it sucks they won’t have Star Wars or Marvel since the normal LEGO sets of those franchises are awesome.

Tiger: Says the mammal who has a tub filled with Snowspeeders.

Rabbit: Aren’t you the one that told me it’s an “Incom Corporation T-47 airspeeder?”

Tiger: *shakes head*

Rabbit: Anyway, Disney put the kibosh on that when they bought the Marvel and Star Wars rights.

Tiger: I still really hate Disney for that too. They’re erasing Star Wars canon, erasing it!

Rabbit: At least we know they’ll be a part of Disney Infinity. We’ve seen Marvel already in 2.0 and Star Wars will be added with the 3.0 expansion.

Tiger: I have to hand it to Activision and the various developers of Skylanders for ensuring that all the old figures from previous games work with the newest version. Most of them even get new moves and a new level cap. Those worthless traps will even be slightly useful in SuperChargers.

Rabbit: I will admit, I hated the traps. Do you know how hard it was to collect all of them?

Tiger: We live in a backwater town; I know how hard it was for you because you made me help.

Rabbit: I had to take trips to different cities just so I could find a Toys R Us or Target in hopes of getting their exclusive traps. I bought them via eBay and Amazon for way more than they were worth. It was really hard to buy them through standard retailers because they used one SKU for the same element, no matter what the shape the trap was.

Tiger: You also roped in Eagle to help feed your addiction.

Rabbit: At least there aren’t any traps in SuperChargers, so this round of hunting will be a lot simpler.

Tiger: I don’t know, I kind of get the appeal of this genre, especially if you’re a kid but I think they’ve gotten out of hand.

Rabbit: You collect Gundam toys, what’s the difference.

Tiger: They’re called figures and they are highly detailed to-scale replicas based off of the original designs. There is your difference.

Rabbit: What about Eye of Judgment, you were all over that game when it came out.

Tiger: That was an augmented reality CCG video game. I don’t see the similarity.

Rabbit: It brought real world cards with monsters on them to life inside a video game; I think there are a lot of similarities. Plus, Skylanders isn’t just for kids. While it may be designed with younger gamers in mind, it offers a pretty robust gaming experience for anyone who plays it. The Diablo-esque style gameplay and light RPG elements makes it fun to play and leveling up characters to unlock new powers keeps the replay value high. While each of the Toys-to-Life games have their unique draws, I really think as a whole they have shown just how vibrant this genre can be.
Tiger: Does that mean you think they’re here to stay?

Rabbit: I do think that we’ll see Toys-to-Life video games continue to evolve and expand. Right now, Skylanders is the oldest IP but Disney utilizes multiple established franchises to sell its game. amiibo offers beloved Nintendo characters that can be used in a multitude of different games and LEGO Dimensions has a strong brand to help catapult its first entry this holiday. There’s something just inherently fun about having a physical figure in your hands and then seeing it come to life on the screen. I miss the days when I used to buy toys, now I just buy discs in a box that sit on a shelf for years and years until I finally get around to playing it. With Skylanders, even when I’m not playing the game-

Tiger: You’re playing pretend with the figures?

Rabbit: ^exasperated^ That wasn’t what I was going to say, stop interrupting. I was going to say, that when a Skylander sits on my shelf, it still has character. And did I mention the games are actually fun, solid games. LEGO Dimensions is still up in the air and we haven’t experienced amiibo toys in action first-hand, but Skylanders is an awesome game and Disney Infinity has become increasingly better with each iteration. The astounding amount of sales that each of these IPs have seen are a testament that Toys-for-Life games are here to stay. If it was a fad, I don’t think Skylanders would be on its fifth entry nor would Disney Infinity be releasing 3.0. And why would LEGO Dimensions join the party if they didn’t see growth here let alone what Nintendo has been doing since they released their first amiibos. The Toys-to-Life genre is here to stay.

Tiger: Everything you said was great except you’re missing a few key points. Like how Activision releases so many different variants of the same figure as a cash grab to get the completionists like you to spend hundreds and hundreds of extra dollars for nothing. Or that while IPs like Marvel and Star Wars are cool, they’re just slapped on the box like other Disney properties to sell units. They do a huge disservice to the hardcore fan when they diminish an IP like that. Or can we mention about the supply issues Nintendo had and knew they would have just to create buzz. And that the figures never look as nice as what they show in the promotional videos and images. I’m not arguing that the games can be good and fun to play, I’m arguing against the entire business model of the Toys-to-Life genre. A few figures are neat but then there are the variants and the exclusive retailer figures. With Skylanders, you practically are forced to buy a new starter pack every game because they keep messing with the base you need to put the figures on. With starter packs ranging from seventy-five to a hundred dollars; that gets pricey real quick. Then what about the fact that while you can beat the game with the figures that are included in the starter, most of it is inaccessible until you buy the right figure. It’s gotten out of control; you have two-hundred and fifty Skylanders already! When is enough, enough?

Rabbit: How many Star Wars LCG cards do you have?

Tiger: Why does that even matter?

Rabbit: How many of the expansions have you bought?

Tiger: *stammers* Maybe half, I don’t know.

Rabbit: If Fantasy Flight turned the Star Wars LCG into an augmented video game, you’d play it, wouldn’t you? Even though you’d have to buy expansion after expansion and booster after booster.

Tiger: That’s not a fair question, these are totally different scenarios. I play the LCG game, it’s an actual game.

Rabbit: Skylanders is an actual game too.

Tiger: Well, you don’t have to buy the expansions to play the LCG.

Rabbit: And you don’t have to buy extra figures to beat Skylanders either.

Tiger: *shouts* Fine! At least my compulsive collectable game takes up less room than yours!

Are Toys-to-Life Games a Fad?

Tiger     vs     Rabbit

Random Happy Time, 26 O’Clock - Gotta Catch ‘Em All!
After talking about Rabbit’s extensive Skylanders collection, she quizzes Tiger on some of the other collectable games they’ve had in the past. From Pokémon to Pirates and everything in between, Tiger and Rabbit have had a long history of compulsively buying collectable games.


Rabbit: Talking about collectable games got me all nostalgic. We’ve had so many different collectable games in the past.

Tiger: ⊙︿⊙ Too many, way too many.

Rabbit: I know we were huge into Pokémon cards for a long time.

Tiger: I think we stopped when we got over five thousand cards.

Rabbit: Do you remember NakNaks?

Tiger: Those were the humanoid figures that stacked like Jenga but had random skins. Geez, we bought a ton of those. We also got really into Pirates, The Constructible Strategy Game.

Rabbit: That one was really cool! You could pop out components from the styrene cards to build ships to use in the game. They broke easily and the ink tended to wear off quickly so I know that annoyed you a lot.

Tiger: I got one of the rarest ships from the Crimson Coast expansion and the mast snapped the first time I popped it out of the card!

Rabbit: Remember Pogs?

Tiger: Oh, that one really dates us. (//・_・//) Yes, I still have about ten tubes of my favorite Pogs in a locker somewhere.

Rabbit: That was probably our first real collectable game.

Tiger: But we’ve had a ton of others like the X-Wing Miniatures game, Young Jedi CCG, X-Men Trading Card Game, and various other card games. Remember Perplex City?

Rabbit: That was an ARG CCG or would you call that a TCG? Anyway, that was a really awesome game but someone beat it before we could get to the highest level.

Tiger: Yes, you bought booster packs which contained puzzle cards. You would solve the puzzles and enter the answers via their website. The more points you got, the higher the level you would go and the more clues you would get to find The Cube which was hidden in the real world and worth two-hundred thousand dollars. I still have the pins they sent us for every level we reached.

Rabbit: Last time I heard there were still two puzzle cards that were never solved.

Tiger: I liked how some of the puzzles where actual Millennium Prize Problems such as the Riemann Hypothesis. The game actually encouraged all the players to work together to solve it.

Rabbit: I wonder if they would’ve split the prize money from CMI too?

Tiger: Do you remember My Perplex City Trades? We would make deals with other players to trade our extra cards to them, since duplicates didn’t help you at all. So I guess you could call it an ARG TCG.

Rabbit: Do you still play CCGs?

Tiger: I don’t, I don’t do collectable card games, trading card games, or deck-building games anymore. I just have the one living card game and that’s the Star Wars LCG. Oh, but I did wish I was able to really get into the Gundam M.S. War TCG. That came out during our pre-internet shopping era and the local hobby shop never carried the cards. I was only ever able to pick up a few boosters. I do remember getting Heavy Arms, which I was really pleased about.

Rabbit: That’s the thing that was always disappointing; we only lived in one town that had a decent hobby shop. It was actually pretty awesome, downstairs had your general toys and educational garbage but in the back there was this unmanned counter with manga. It was the first time we had ever seen manga, and then you’d take these super narrow stairs to the second floor, which was just a converted supply closet, and they had all the card and board games up there.

Tiger: That was the first place I ever went to that made me realize I was a geek.

Rabbit: ╭(♡・ㅂ・)و ̑̑Good times, good times.

Tiger: I hate you right now. (#`皿´)

Rabbit: (っ- ‸ – ς) What? What’d I do?

Tiger: Talking about all our old collectable games has me itching to get into a new card game now. Fantasy Flight has a couple games that are interesting and I haven’t even looked into what Wizards of the Coast is into nowadays. I just miss the smell of a brand new binder filled with card sleeves. I also miss the sound when you tear open a new booster pack and how your heart races to see if you finally got Dratini because he wasn’t rare but you couldn't catch him. Man.

Rabbit: ^pats Tiger on the back^ Poor Tiger, what have I done. I might as well have taken you to the card aisle at Toys R Us and gave you a hundred bucks to go wild.

Tiger: It still amazes me that as much as we loved Pokémon that we didn’t turn into Nintendo gamers. I still have the soundtracks and you still have the movies.

Rabbit: I still have a few Pokémon posters in a tube somewhere in the black hole that is my closet.

Tiger: I have a plushie Charmander in a box.

Rabbit: I have a plushie Pikachu in that same box.

Tiger: Admittedly, I’ve seriously looked into buying a 3DS so I could play the Pokémon games along with the SMT ones.

Rabbit: But you have way too many games as it is.

Tiger: *sighs* Exactly, collecting games is like a collectable game in its own right. (︶︹︺)

Friday, September 4, 2015

Q Attack, Round 19 - Did the San Jose Sharks Change Enough to Win?
The San Jose Sharks have made off-season changes with familiar faces leaving the Bay Area and new players coming in to wear old numbers. The Sharks missed the dance last year; can they overcome their history to dance with the stars again? Tiger and Rabbit thrash out whether these changes are enough to transform the Sharks into the competitive team they once were.


Tiger: Hey Rabbit, check out what I’ve been working on.

Rabbit: ^looks at paper^ What is this, a math problem?

Tiger: No, it’s prospective line combinations for the San Jose Sharks. I’ve been trying to figure out where I’d put the new players.

Rabbit: Doug Wilson, the Sharks GM, was very active this summer and got a few new players while letting old ones go.

Tiger: Yes, it was a lot better than just picking up John Scott last year.

Rabbit: Speaking of John Scott, he was one of the players that was let go.

Tiger: About time too. Other players that are no longer with the team include goalie Antti Niemi and Defensemen Scott Hannan and Matt Irwin who were not offered extensions.

Rabbit: Forwards Andrew Desjardins and James Sheppard were traded during last season as well.

Tiger: Congrats to Desi for winning the Cup too. He definitely deserved to get a ring but I was rooting against Sheppard’s team the whole playoffs.

Rabbit: That’s so mean of you.

Tiger: Sheppard was worthless for our team and was gifted the chance to play for the Cup. He didn’t take advantage of it and was given limited minutes during the playoffs. You gotta work to play.

Rabbit: Back to the other changes, the Sharks were active in adding players not only in the draft but also during free agency.

Tiger: The Sharks had their highest draft pick since they chose Logan Couture in 2007. With Pick number nine, the Sharks selected winger Timo Meier, a power forward from the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads. Meier scored 44 goals and had 90 points during the 2014-2015 season. He is the third pick in the last three drafts from Switzerland and is known for using his six-foot-one, 209 pound frame to play a physical style. He is also praised for his hard and accurate wrist shot.

Rabbit: This draft class was so deep that many players who fell to the second round would have been considered first round contenders in previous years.

Tiger: To this point, the Sharks traded up from 39th overall pick to the first pick of the second round to make their next selection. At 31st overall, SJ nabbed Jeremy Roy, a defenseman from the Sherbrooke Phoenix. The right-handed shooter is also a solid puck-moving defenseman and was ranked 21st among North American prospects by Central Scouting. Known for his smooth skating and on-ice IQ, snagging Roy was like getting two first rounders for San Jose.

Rabbit: While San Jose had multiple draft picks this year, Meier and Roy were the standout picks that could make an impact to the team in the immediate future.

Tiger: I really loved the pick for Roy even if he was pricy. The Sharks paid in full, trading the 39th pick, a second round pick in 2016, and a sixth rounder in 2017 to the Colorado Avalanche, just to acquire the 31st pick of 2015.

Rabbit: That is expensive; do you think he’s worth it?

Tiger: Roy is six feet tall, 188 pounds and was highly sought after. Roy describes himself as a two-way defenseman, skilled in both the defensive and offensive aspects of the game.

Rabbit: He also said he modeled his game after Drew Doughty.

Tiger: *groans* No! Not a Kings’ player!

Rabbit: Roy led all Sherbrooke defensemen with 43 points in 46 games this past season.

Tiger: I think his stock dropped when he suffered a lower body injury earlier this year but being a right-shot defenseman was a huge bonus.

Rabbit: Right-shot means the player keeps the blade of his stick on the right side of his body. These are highly sought after since most players shoot left.

Tiger: Roy also plays in every situation on the ice including powerplay, penalty kill, and as a shut-down player in the final minutes of the game. I actually think he’s the better of the two top SJS draftees. While Meier is skilled, he seemed like a safe pick but Roy has a ton of upside.

Rabbit: Speaking of Meier, the 18 year-old registered 44 goals and 46 assists with Halifax last season. He was named to the QMJHL’s Second All-Star Team and was awarded the Michael Bossy Trophy, given to the best professional prospect. At six-foot-one, the 210-pound native of Switzerland plays a strong game. He’s a solid skater that's known for his versatility on the ice. Meier also spent time on the international scene, representing his country in 66 games, including the 2015 World Junior Championship.

Tiger: The Sharks picked up a few other young players via trade and free agency.

Rabbit: One such player was Patrick McNally who was acquired via a draft-day trade with Vancouver. He just signed a two year contract as well. Playing for Harvard, McNally recorded 21 points and was a plus-16 on the blueline in 21 games. He also helped the Crimson win the ECAC Championship and was named to the All-Tournament Team.

Tiger: Team Teal acquired Mark Cundari and signed him to a one year contract. The 25 year-old posted 29 points in 50 games with Adirondack of the AHL. During last season, Cundari led all defensemen in points and goals as well as wearing an A on his sweater. Before turning pro, Cundari spent some time with the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL, under new Sharks Assistant Coach Bob Boughner. While there, Cundari helped Windsor win back-to-back OHL and Memorial Cup Championships.

Rabbit: I don’t know much about Cundari but I think McNally was a good pick up. He has already spent some time in the NHL, allowing him to get a taste of the big leagues. Now, he just needs to continue developing into a stable blueliner.

Tiger: For the price the Sharks paid, both defensemen were solid pickups. You always take a risk when signing young prospects or unproven players but the ability to bolster not only the NHL team but the new AHL team in San Jose, is a bonus.

Rabbit: Speaking of the AHL team, the Worcester Sharks are no more. They are now the San Jose Barracuda and will play in the SAP Center, along with their big brother team.

Tiger: The Sharks weren’t done with just bolstering their young talent, with the exits of Niemi and a few defensemen; the Sharks still needed to fill two major holes.

Rabbit: To that effect, they signed Martin Jones, the back-up goalie of the LA Kings.

Tiger: *glares*

Rabbit: What?

Tiger: Freaking LA.

Rabbit: It’s not my fault! I thought you were happy about this!

Tiger: I am but I’m not at the same time. Stupid purple-faced-

Rabbit: ^raises hands^ Look at the bright side. Technically, the Sharks acquired him from the Boston Bruins in exchange for the first round pick of 2016 and prospect Sean Kuraly.

Tiger: But the Bruins got him from LA!

Rabbit: Now he’s a Shark.

Tiger: Yes, at least he’s wearing a real color now.

Rabbit: Anyway, Jones had a phenomenal debut in the NHL when he went 8-0-0 in his first eight starts. In that span, he posted a 0.98 goals-against average and three shutouts, making him the first NHL goaltender to allow less than one goal a game. Before his time in the land we shall not mention, Jones played for Manchester of the AHL where he had a 2.42 goals-against average and a 0.920 save percentage. While he’s unproven as an NHL starter, it’s not a surprise to find that this kid has talent.

Tiger: Kid? He’s only a few years younger than we are.

Rabbit: Don’t forget that Jones has a gold medal to go along with his Stanley Cup Ri-

Tiger: *shouts* Stop! Stop! Stop! Don’t finish that sentence, please don’t.

Rabbit: ^silence^

Tiger: Jones posted a 2-0 record during the 2015 World Championships, where he helped Team Canada capture gold. He also won a silver medal at the 2010 World Junior Championships. He definitely has a lot of upside but I question whether he can handle the 82 game season as a starter.

Rabbit: SJS still has last year’s backup netminder, Alex Stalock. While he didn’t do well in relief of Niemi, we’ve seen flashes of brilliance from the young goalie and hopefully the competition from Jones will push the tandem to new levels of skill.

Tiger: With the goaltender situation settled for next season, there were still gaps to fill on the blueline. GM Wilson pulled a July 1st signing of unrestricted free agent, Paul Martin, the former defenseman from Pittsburgh.

Rabbit: At the age of 34, Martin was a stalwart on the blueline for the Pens. Not a flashy goal-scoring defenseman, Martin is known for his rock-solid defensive play. Always making the best choices, his hockey IQ is out of this world.

Tiger: Martin was signed to a shiny new contract and will wear number seven for the next four seasons.

Rabbit: Didn’t Niclas Wallin wear number seven?

Tiger: *rolls eyes* Don’t remind me. Martin is nothing like Wallin. His offensive numbers won’t wow you but his amazingly detailed style of play will have an immediate impact on the ice. Martin does all the little things right like angling players to the boards, using his stick to control the play, and making the simple passes that have a high probability for success rather than trying something flashy.

Rabbit: I haven’t seen him play too much since he played predominantly in the Eastern Conference, but he reminds me a bit of Rob Blake. Not only is he a skilled player but he’s touted as being an exceptional leader. I’m excited to have a mentor like him for youngsters such as Mirco Mueller and the D-men we mentioned already.

Tiger: The only thing I dislike is his almost five million cap hit for the next four years. The Sharks had plenty of cap space to play with but the fact that he’s already 34, a four year contract seems a bit long to me.

Rabbit: I think the expertise and experience he adds to the locker room will be totally worth the price. The Sharks seemed done building the team yet there was one thing still missing…

Tiger: An identity winger! I was calling for them to sign a winger from the very get go.

Rabbit: And they got exactly that when they signed Joel Ward to a three year contract.

Tiger: Ward will be removing his red, white, and blue sweater of the Capitals and replacing it for Teal when the season starts this fall. Known as a clutch player, Ward is physical and competitive.

Rabbit: Everyone raves that he’s a great guy to have in the locker room too.

Tiger: When you talk about identity players, he’s one of the first ones to come to mind.

Rabbit: Not only can Ward impact the game with his hard-nosed brand of hockey, he has the ability to score when it really matters.

Tiger: Just like he did in the playoffs last season when he scored with 1.6 seconds left in the game to give Washington the win.

Rabbit: He is going to add a dimension to the Sharks that they haven’t had since Torres was taken out.

Tiger: I actually really love these three signings. Last year the Sharks tried to reset the team with a focus on younger players but the team showed that they still needed help if they were to get into the playoffs. The Martin and Ward signings show that Wilson is dedicated to winning now while allowing the young guns time to mature. I think this blend will help balance the team and hopefully right the terrible course the team has been on for the past two years.

Rabbit: The players aren’t the only things changing in San Jose with head coach Todd McLellan and his staff moving to Edmonton. The Sharks searched near and far for a new coach before selecting Peter DeBoer, former leader of the New Jersey Devils.

Tiger: He had a tough task in New Jersey, guiding an average team but was able to eke out the potential of most of his players. DeBoer is also touted for his strong communication abilities and isn’t afraid to have a firm hand when needed. He focuses on puck-possession, something the Sharks have been known for but have gotten away from in the past couple of seasons. Downside, DeBoer doesn’t have a lot of NHL experience in the postseason yet he has earned a Memorial Cup title in 2003 with the Kitchener Rangers.

Rabbit: SJS also added Bob Boughner as an assistant coach and Johan Hedberg as an assistant/goaltending coach. Boughner spent ten seasons in the NHL as a defenseman and was the head coach for the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL. He was named OHL and CHL coach of the year in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009, when he led the team to back-to-back Memorial Cup titles. Boughner also worked with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Tiger: Hedberg played 373 NHL games and is currently ranked 3rd in wins among Swedish-born netminders. He’ll be working with Jones and Stalock as they battle for the number one starting position. There was one last late addition to the coaching staff and that was Steve Spott.

Rabbit: Spott will be joining the team as the second assistant coach. He recently spent the last season as an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Before that, he was the head coach of the AHL based Toronto Marlies. They made it all the way to the Calder Cup before losing in seven games.

Tiger: Spott also coached alongside DeBoer when they were with the Plymouth Wahlers and Kitchener Rangers of the OHL.
Rabbit: With so many changes made to not only the roster but the coaching staff, do you think it’s enough to propel the Sharks back into the postseason?

Tiger: I really liked the additions, while I complained that Martin’s contract is too long, you cannot overlook the impact a veteran defenseman can have on the team. The team has obviously been missing beloved Dan Boyle on the backend and Martin will be to fill that void. Plus, the idea of having number seven and number 88 paired together absolutely thrills me. Burns is a force on the blueline but he’s also prone to overemphasizing offense at the expensive of defense. Martin should be a calming influence for Burnzie and I think they’ll make a great pair.

Rabbit: Vlasic and Braun, and now Martin and Burns; yes that looks to be a solid top four D-core.

Tiger: Braun needs to up his game though, he had a middling season last go around but I’m hopeful he’ll be able to regain the glory of his better play. That leaves the third pairing up to Dillon and whichever youngster makes it out of camp. Mueller is still in play but with McNally and Cundari, they could be mid-season call-ups.

Rabbit: Don't forget about Dylan DeMelo who got called up from the AHL team last year but didn't get the opportunity to play. There's a strong possibility that we'll see him with the big club, maybe even right out of training camp.

Tiger: Then there are the forwards, Marleau had a terrible year and the sophomores had very little impact. I’m expecting big bounce back years from Patty, Hertl, and Nieto; along with better overall play from the bottom six forwards. I don’t think we’ll see Karlsson on the top line with Thornton and Pavelski this season, I bet he’ll slide down to maybe the third line with Tierney and Wingels. Who plays with Jumbo and Pavs? Who knows, Goldobin has a great opportunity to make the team out of camp. I’m not saying he’ll be slotted there, but it would be interesting to see the young offensive force with the league’s best passer.

Rabbit: Do you think it will be Couture centering the second line with Marleau and Nieto? Or does Ward take that spot?

Tiger: Hard to say, I’d personally rather see Patty down on the third line since he didn’t earn his minutes last season, but he may bounce back. We have to remember that Torres is a possibility too, though I’d say it’s doubtful since he hasn’t played in two years. Maybe slot Hertl on the third line with Tierney and have Wingels back up with Cooch. Then there’s Smith, Goodrow, and Brown that could round out the fourth line but I doubt Goodrow will stay with the big club the entire season, there are too many good young prospects that I think SJ will give a chance to play.

Rabbit: I’d go Ninja-Jumbo-Pavs, Patty-Cooch-California Kid, Ward-CT-Juicebox, and Goldobin-Smithy-Milkman. Then have the D as Pickles-Brauny, Martin-Burnzie, Mules-Dill.

Tiger: That’s an interesting choice of bottom six. It’s hard to say since we don’t even know who’s going to make it out of camp but I definitely can see something similar when the season starts. Down the middle having Jumbo, Cooch, Tierney, and Smith makes sense. I sort of want them to give Hertl the opportunity to play C again, that is his natural position and he looked good the couple of games he did play center. I like the D-pairings but feel that Mueller needs a full year in the AHL before making the jump. There’s no reason to rush him right now when you have Tennyson and the other acquisitions able to take some ice time.

Rabbit: I’m not sure they made enough changes to the team in all honesty. Many of the reports point to Thornton and Marleau inciting a lot of the friction around the team. The Sharks have more issues than just not being skilled enough on the ice. They have a serious issue inside the locker room and that was apparent both on and off the ice last season. Things need to change internally before their game can really get to the level it needs to be in this league.

Tiger: I think DeBoer will name a team captain right after training camp, which is something that should help heal the rift. The Sharks need a leader to hold them accountable but also to take responsibility and I think Pavelski is that person. I was surprised when Vlasic was given an A, I think they should give one to Wingels.

Rabbit: A little surprised Couture didn’t get one, he’s been very vocal but he also sounds like he causes friction of his own.

Tiger: Last season was the ugly continuation of letting a 3-0 lead evaporate in the playoffs. It literally felt like 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 was one long, freakishly ugly season. I think adding veterans Martin and Ward will shake up the locker room in a good way. I believe that creating internal competition for positions, especially the position of goalie, will force players to really bring their A game every single night. I’m tentatively optimistic that the Sharks will be able to turn it around. They have a new coach, a new starting goalie, they’ll have a new captain, and a new opportunity to finally put the last playoff run behind them.

Rabbit: There's only one question left to ask; is it October yet?

Did the San Jose Sharks Change Enough to Win?

Tiger     vs     Rabbit

Random Happy Time, 25 O’Clock - Sweater Heaven!
The 2015-2016 marks the 25th anniversary of San Jose Sharks hockey. Tiger and Rabbit reminisce about their favorite hockey moments and Tiger tries to decide which player jersey to buy next.


Rabbit: O(≧∇≦)O So this coming season is the 25th anniversary of Sharks hockey.

Tiger: Wow, what a ride it has been. While there have been many ups and downs throughout the years we’ve watched this team, I have a lot of great memories.

Rabbit: One of the biggest memories I have has to be “The Kill.” \( `.∀´)/

Tiger: For those that don’t know, we started watching hockey in 2001 and became fans of the Colorado Avalanche during Ray Bourque’s storied journey to finally raise the Stanley Cup.

Rabbit: While we loved the players, we didn’t necessarily love the team, and eventually went shopping to find one we could truly claim as our own.

Tiger: There was an NHL lockout and after that, ESPN and other channels stopped airing hockey so we were forced to watch the local team, the San Jose Sharks.

Rabbit: The Sharks and Avs actually had a bit of a rivalry going so we weren’t fans of Team Teal but it was the first season back after the lockout and we weren’t going to miss watching hockey again. During the second round of the playoffs, on May 8th, 2006 against the Edmonton Oilers, there was this special moment that we know as “The Kill.” The San Jose Sharks had taken a 1-0 lead in the series and were up 1-0 in the second period of the game. The Sharks took two penalties and had 101 continuous seconds of 5-on-3 disadvantage. If that wasn’t enough, defensemen Kyle McLaren and Scott Hannan broke their sticks during the play, effectively turning it into a 5-on-1 disadvantage. Goalie Vesa Toskala and the guys on the ice did everything in their power to keep the 1-0, killing off the entirety of both penalties. The Sharks went on to win the game 2-1 before losing the series 4-2 to the Oil.

Tiger: (-^〇^-) I have two major memories that both happened during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It was the Western Conference Quarter-finals and the Sharks were meeting their southern rivals for the first time in the playoffs. The series was tied 1-1 when Team Teal rolled into the Staples Center to face the LA Kings on April 19th, 2011. The game started out ugly with the Kings taking the early lead. With only a minute played in the second period, the Sharks were already facing a 4-0 deficit… then started “The Comeback.” Patrick Marleau knocked home a blast from Dan Boyle, Ryane Clowe scored on the powerplay, and Logan Couture brought the Sharks within one. LA wasn’t done yet, adding another tally in the second while Ryane Clowe answered back five minutes later. With less than a minute left in the second period, Joe Pavelski powers his way to the net and ties the game. The third period saw both teams tighten down on defense so it was on to sudden death overtime to decide the winner of this goalfest game.

Rabbit: ((((;゜Д゜))) I’m on the edge of my seat!

Tiger: Just three minutes into OT, Marleau and Thornton charged into the offensive zone, they were well defended but no one was covering Setoguchi coming down the far boards. Marleau made a glorious pass and Seto buried the puck behind Quick. The Sharks completed the comeback and won the game 6-5 in overtime, taking a 2-1 series lead.

Rabbit: You know Wallin got an assist off of Cooch’s and Seto’s goals, right?

Tiger: He was also on the ice for LA’s last goal too. Clowey man, and Seto. Those guys I miss. But the SJ vs LA series wasn’t done giving more spectacular moments, up next is "The Slide." On April 25th, 2011; the Sharks were leading the series 3-2 and had the opportunity to finish off the Kings in their hometown. The game was hard fought with the Sharks taking the lead in the second but the Kings answering back and tying it up in the third. Once again, this game would be decided in OT. The game looked dire for the Sharks, taking a 5-minute major penalty that continued into OT. After they killed it off, Joe Thornton came up the far boards and chipped the puck to Devin Setoguchi, who took it around the net and back out the other side. He found Patrick Marleau streaking towards the net and passed it to him but the puck ricocheted off of a skate and landed in front of Thornton, who was now standing in front of the net. He hammered it home and won the game 4-3 and closed out the series against the Kings 4-2. His iconic celebration of sliding across the ice on his back showed just how much the Sharks relished the win.

Rabbit: Such great memories and I’m looking forward to making new memories in the coming season. (>’o’)> ♥

Tiger: I’m excited too; the Sharks are going to have a retro jersey that harkens back to the original Teal sweater. ♥ <(‘o’<)

Rabbit: And of course, you’ll be getting one. (>’o’)> ♥ <(‘o’<)

Tiger: I’m definitely picking up one and I’m hoping to get another player jersey but I’m not sure who. Maybe Wingels in white and if Mueller plays for the Barracuda, I definitely want to get their alternate jersey.

Rabbit: We’re running out of closet space and you want to get three more jerseys?!

Tiger: I'll make space.

Rabbit: Speaking of anniversaries, happy anniversary! ヾ(@°▽°@)ノ

Tiger: 【・ヘ・?】 Anniversary for what?

Rabbit: For us, silly.

Tiger: *scratches head*

Rabbit: I can’t believe you forgot! This month marks a year since we started TvR.

Tiger: Oh wow, really? Has it been that long?

Rabbit: It has, we posted our first Q Attack in September of 2014. I want to thank all the Qgers and Qbbits for sticking with us! Please continue to read our posts; we definitely have more content planned for 2016! <(^o^<)

Tiger: (>^_^)> Yes, thank you for putting up with all our shenanigans. We appreciate you taking the time to stop by. Whether you’ve been with us since the beginning or just started reading, we thank you. We’ll try to keep coming up with new content and topics that we hope you find interesting.

Rabbit: I think we should do a food only segment, where we talk about our favorite dishes every month.

Tiger: I want to do a Fallout and TES weekly discussion.

Rabbit: How about a “Saitou is Awesome” segment?

Tiger: A “Ga-Ga-Ga-Gundam!” mode would be better.

Rabbit: Ge-ge-ge-get out of here! (メ`ロ´)/