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Sharks Mid-Term Report Card: Needs Improvement
Deceptively good stats conceal weaknesses
1/6/14 - By Paul Krill -

The Sharks' mid-season point total - 58 points in 41 games - looks pretty good. That's better than a point per game and it means the Sharks have had a lot of wins. We should all be confident heading into the second half of the season and the playoffs, right? Well, notsomuch.

Of those 26 wins in 41 games, a whole bunch of them came very early in the season. And there were six shootout wins, which count less in playoff positioning than regulation and overtime wins. The Sharks also continue their unfortunate penchant for blowing leads - had anyone ever seen a game before where teams took turns pulling the goalie in the last two minutes of the game because one team (the Sharks, in this case) blew the lead with fewer than two minutes left and then had to pull its own goalie after the other team (Colorado) had already done so? That little number last month cost the Sharks a regulation-time win. (It was another shootout win for the Sharks).

The Sharks also have home losses to bottom feeders including the Sabres and Islanders. Not to mention being annihilated on the road by the Blackhawks, Kings and Ducks - teams the Sharks MUST beat if they want to advance far in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the injuries pile up for the Sharks: We haven't seen Raffi Torres or Adam Burish all year and now, rookie sensation Tomas Hertl is out. Well, it was fun to have him while he lasted.

If we size up the first half of the season and use it to prognosticate on how the rest of the 2013-2014 campaign will go, we can only conclude it will be business as usual: The Sharks will look stunning in the first round of the playoffs and then run into a brick wall in a place like Chicago, Los Angeles or Anaheim. Same old, same old.

It will be another post-season disappointment. This is especially disheartening since the Sharks have Hall of Fame-caliber players like Joe Thornton and maybe Patrick Marleau, who won't have Stanley Cups on their final career resumes (or even Stanley Cup Finals appearances) if the Sharks can't find a way to break through in the playoffs. They haven't, yet.

….Penalty Shots: Before the season, I thought Edmonton would give the Sharks a run for their money, with three consecutive first picks of the draft (Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov) ready to make a difference. But it hasn't worked out that way. Yakupov is -25 for the season. Yikes…When Logan Couture began his breakaway against Anaheim a few nights ago, I knew his goal-less streak would be over.

He has had so much practice with breakaways via frequent participation in shootouts that it was a no-brainer he would score…Congratulations to Joe Pavelski on his return to the US Olympic team. He is a clutch scorer and an all-around class act. He tossed a puck into the stands during a practice session last season that my daughter retrieved. We have it on the mantle above the fireplace. Let's not forget: Joe was taken with the 205th pick of the draft in 2003. Now, he is a star.

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