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8 Things to Take Away From This Season
The San Jose Sharks Through 41 Games
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 time.

8) Brenden Dillon for Jason Demers- a big win for Doug Wilson

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 blueline!?!

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 Sharks.

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!

6) Youngsters 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 Sharks fan.

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 Machine

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.

But 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 Hertl

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 Player

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

The 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 unpredictable

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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