| 8 Things to Take Away From This
The San Jose Sharks Through 41
|1/11/14 - By Zack Bodenstein -
As the halfway point of the season has approached,
the Sharks stand third in the Pacific Division with a moderate record of
22-16-5. Considering the team dealt with tons of adversity to begin the season,
playing 16 of the club's first 21 games on the road, the season has not gone
all that poorly. Yet, the Sharks should be disappointed with the way it has
gone, and play with more urgency to get to the top of the division come playoff
8) Brenden Dillon for Jason Demers- a big win for Doug
It was clear after the departure of Dan Boyle this past
offseason that the Sharks needed to fill the hole that he had been filling on
the Sharks blue line since 2008, insisting on getting younger while doing so.
When the Chicago Blackhawks made Nick Leddy available before the start of the
season, it seemed like an instant fit for the 23 year-old left-handed shot
defenseman to make his way to San Jose.
Doug Wilson did not pull the
trigger on him, and he ultimately ended up in Long Island. Jason Demers, coming
off of a career year offensively, was struggling mightily in his own zone this
season, thus was shipped to Dallas for the 24 year-old left-handed shot,
Brenden Dillon. Dillon has made a huge impact with the Sharks, finding instant
chemistry with Brent Burns. Dillon uses his big body to block shots and play
physically every night while logging almost 20 minutes per night. He has looked
calm on the blue line and added a much-needed boost to the Sharks' defensive
game. This is one of those small, but big, deals that turned out to be a big
win for the Sharks.
7) Why is Brent Burns still on the
A question that I will scream at the top of my lungs
every day! When Brent Burns was a forward for the Sharks on Joe Thornton's
wing, he showed that he is the most dominant power-forward in hockey. He could
do it all on the wing; speed, score, physicality, cycle, use his body, you name
it. Moving him back to the blueline created a big hole on the wing, which is
now being occupied by Joe Pavelski, having another terrific season for the
But moving Pavelski up to the top line has ultimately created
a hole on the third-line, where Pavelski would excel at centre and negate the
depth of any other team. With Burns struggling defensively on defense, and
Pavelski on the top line, the Sharks lack any star power on their bottom-six,
which could boost them to quite possibly the best offense in the NHL. It's a
chain reaction, Doug and Todd, stop screwing around!
coming through, finally!
Being a young player in the game today is
tough as it is, but the Sharks have had various players make their NHL debuts
and excel this season. Names that have stood out are Chris Tierney, Mirco
Mueller, Barclay Goodrow and Melker Karlsson. Karlsson, a signing in late May
of 2014 out of Sweden, has entered the Sharks lineup due to the amount of
injuries to their bottom-6 and has made a terrific impact. He was described as
a hard-worker coming in, and has shown it, quickly winning the hearts of every
Karlsson has posted four goals, including goals in three
straight games, and four assists in 12 games, while playing physical and
working hard in the corners. He is an ideal third-line player at the age of 24
and is probably here to stay even when this team is fully healthy. Barclay
Goodrow, coming over from North Bay in the OHL, has made his presence as a
Shark, providing solid depth and creating great chemistry with James Sheppard
and Melker Karlsson. At just age 21, he looks like a solid player for years to
come, just getting started. Chris Tierney has only played 14 games as a Shark
this season, which is ridiculous.
Even when on the fourth line, he
continuously works hard and creates scoring chances for himself and his
linemates. He has bounced back and forth between Worcester and San Jose,
probably because he is only 20 years old. Still, he looks like an extremely
promising forward for the Sharks, and hopefully he is here to stay by the end
of the season, as he has been consistent and dominant for them. Mirco Mueller,
with one of the toughest jobs in sports, being a 19-year old defenseman in the
NHL, has blossomed. The first-round pick from 2013 has already made his way
into the lineup and excelled, beating out both Scott Hannan and Matt Irwin in
terms of consistency and effectiveness. The youngsters have made this team
quicker, more consistent, and more energetic.
5) Tommy Wingels: The
Okay, so we knew this guy was good. But this good? Another
late-round stud by the Sharks, he has been flat-out awesome this season.
Bringing a huge physical boost to the Sharks, ranking third in the NHL with 157
hits. He is an absolute workhorse, giving it his all every shift. In the middle
of a scoring slump, Wingels has still contributed 24 points in 41 games,
including 8 points on the powerplay as a part of that second unit.
even during his scoring slump, he is providing a key role for the Sharks,
keeping the puck out of the net and keeping the puck in the opposition's zone.
He is a key young player for the club going forward, on his way to being a top
power-forward in the league.
4) Earth Calling Patrick Marleau and Tomas
I mean seriously, where the hell have these guys been. It's
been a classic Patrick Marleau season, of ups and downs, but not to this
extent. He had his usual hot start, but this cold streak is insanity. He has 7
goals on the season, on pace for 14. A typical Patrick Marleau season would see
him finishing with 30+, but this year I'm sure he's hoping to reach 20. He is
at the lowest shooting percentage of his career, and not getting the bounces he
usually gets to lead to his success.
He is also one of the fastest
players in the league with one of the quickest releases, but doesn't seem to be
using that to his advantage lately. Marleau still sits at a respectable 28
points in 41 games, but only 7 goals. If he were scoring at his regular rate,
this team would have far more success. It is clearly difficult to win games
without an offensive weapon not contributing in the goal category. Tomas Hertl,
the sophomore following up his shortened-rookie season, is not playing well
this season. He has had his energetic games where his legs and moving and he
looks engaged, but he is not scoring. Last year, barring his knee injury, Hertl
was on pace to outscore any other rookie in the league.
This year, he
sits at 7 goals and 15 points at the halfway mark of the campaign, way below
standards for both him and the Sharks. He has been given many opportunities to
play with Pavelski and Thornton, but cannot contribute on the score sheet.
Although, he has many games where he plays a decent shutdown role. Still,
Marleau and Hertl need to contribute more offensively if this team is going to
have any success. The Sharks have always been dominant because of the number of
premier scorers that they have, playing solid defensively, they need more goals
to win more games, it's that simple.
3) Joe Pavelski: A Good Hockey
You mean to tell me that 204 players were drafted ahead of
this guy? The man is elite. 41 goals last year, led all NHL players in goals
for the 2014 calendar year, and now he has another 21 this year. Imagine
Marleau and Hertl contributing, Burns up on the wing, and this man on the
third-line, how many teams would line up better than the Sharks? He leads the
league in powerplay goals, he plays a strong defensive game, and he's an
extremely smart hockey player. I can talk all day about how good Pavelski is,
but his play speaks for him.
2) No C, No problem
dreaded offseason saw Joe Thornton lose his captaincy, but he has responded
well. He has dominated the puck all over the ice, slowing the game down and
making the Sharks a better team. He is still the top playmaker in the game with
the ability to find anybody on the ice. We've already seen how the Sharks look
without their best player, although they have won 2 out of 3, they need him.
Thornton has 33 points in 38 games and is a threat every time he is on the ice.
He is a competitor at age 35 and has shown zero signs of declining. He remains
one of the most underrated superstars in the game after all these years, while
ranking 39th in points ALL TIME.
1) The Sharks are VERY
We've seen the Sharks beat the best of the best and
we've seen them lose to teams in the McEichel sweepstakes. For whatever reason,
bad teams remain their kryptonite. The Sharks are 12-7-2 against teams in
playoff positions this season, playing amazing games in almost every single
one. The Sharks are 3-6-2 against Carolina, Columbus, Buffalo, Edmonton,
Arizona, and Florida. Why? Because sports make no sense and the Sharks play
down to other teams levels.
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