| Sharks October
A Monthly View of San Jose Hockey
|11/2/16 - By Zach Bodenstein -
Hockey season is flying by so far, and for Sharks'
fans, that may be a good thing. This team is coming off of its greatest playoff
run in franchise history, falling two wins shy of the ultimate prize. Now, nine
games in to the 2016-2017 campaign, they're still dominating. The Sharks sit at
a respectable 6-3-0 record, good enough for second in the Pacific Division.
However, this record in not indicative of their play thus far. They could, have
and will be even better.
As of October 30th, the Sharks sit third in
the NHL in CF% (net shot attempts for vs. against at 5v5), which reflects on
how often the Sharks are generating chances and controlling the puck in the
opponents' zone while negating shots coming their way.
Even with this
domination of the puck, the Sharks sit just 25th in the NHL in 5v5 shooting
percentage, something that is bound to change. A struggle with past Sharks
teams has been depth, and while they had plenty during last year's playoff run,
this year's team has even more.
Adding David Schlemko didn't seem like
much to many, unless you're a Sharks fan and have been wanting to sell your
soul for a puck-moving and possession-driving defenseman on the third pairing
for over a decade. Some believe he is a prime reason why this team looks as
good as it does. Replacing Roman Polak, his giveaways and penalties on the
third pairing, he has turned Brenden Dillon into the top possession defensemen
in the entire league. Yeah.
That pairing ties the Drew Doughty-Jake
Muzzin pairing for top possession pairing in hockey. We all know Pete DeBoer
likes to role his lines more than any other coach and he has the luxury of
doing so when all six defenders are capable of creating opportunities and
negating scoring chances.
Brent Burns is doing Brent Burns things.
Paul Martin, while struggling slightly, has improved. The Vlasic-Braun pairing
has been lights out, as well.
Martin Jones hasn't missed a beat.
Despite the road trip that the league cursed the Sharks with to begin the
season (five of the first six games on the road on the other side of the
country) he bailed his team out at times when they didn't show up. He sports a
2.15 GAA and a .916 save% with 5 wins in eight games.
Aaron Dell won
his NHL debut and only start to date against the New York Islanders in
Brooklyn. He will likely be called upon more throughout the year with the
Sharks having the most back-to-backs in the league.
The Sharks changed up their forward lines after losing
two straight games to Pittsburgh and Detroit, going on to win three straight
games and dominating every single one of them. Of course, Joe Pavelski
continues to be the greatest all around American-born hockey player in the
world with 11 points in nine games, leading the team. No, I have never heard of
a "Patrick Kane."
Moving Tomas Hertl to play center on the third line
not only gives the Sharks scoring depth, but it gives them a new identity. A
tougher team to play against with more punch down the middle.
Boedker, just one goal so far this year, seems like an ideal candidate to put
up big numbers with the Joes. He has shown good chemistry so far and his speed
will definitely come in handy, and has, when Big Joe has the puck.
Joonas Donskoi, after a slow start, finished the month with a three-game point
streak and a two-game goal streak. The second powerplay unit has been clicking.
The first unit looks a ton better as well after starting the
season completely flat. That insane puck movement is back, making defensemen
more confused than hockey fans seeing the Oilers in first place.
fourth line has been tremendous after a down year, playing valuable shut down
minutes and spending much more time in the offensive zone.
concern for the Sharks is faceoffs, where they rank dead last. Over the last 8
years or so, the Sharks have essentially been a top 5 faceoff team every
season, so it is bound to change especially with Hertl coming to play 3C.
For now, it seems as if Bob Boughner has figured out this penalty
kill. The Sharks sit 11th after back-to-back seasons of being in the league's
bottom 10. Part of that is due to Jones and his Carey Price-like demeanour.
One month in, and a long way to go, but this team has shown one thing:
it is eager to get back in the playoffs and finish off what they couldn't do
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