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Sharks October Recap
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.

Mikkel 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. Finally.

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.

The fourth line has been tremendous after a down year, playing valuable shut down minutes and spending much more time in the offensive zone.

The only 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 last season.

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