Figuring Out the San Jose Sharks
By Patrick Hoffman
It is hard to believe that just two seasons ago, the San Jose Sharks made it to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history.
Unfortunately for the Sharks and their fans, it was not a happy ending. The team was defeated in six games by the Pittsburgh Penguins despite having played a pretty good series.
Fast forward to today and it has been difficult to figure out what kind of team the Sharks really are. As of this writing (February 1, 2018), the Sharks are third in the Pacific Division with 60 points, which obviously means that if the playoffs were to start today, they would be in it.
With that said, however, that division is extremely tight, with the exception of the Vegas Golden Knights. Right now (February 1, 2018), the Sharks are just one point ahead of both the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks and are just two points ahead of the Calgary Flames.
Clearly, the Sharks will have no room for error as they had into the stretch run portion of the season. In order to start playing better and cement themselves firmly in a playoff spot, several things will have to happen.
For starters, this team is going to need elite goaltending from here on out. This is not to say that the team's goaltenders have been bad.
Rather, each guy must step up their play in order to help this hockey club. Martin Jones is currently (February 1, 2018) 14-12-5 with a 2.67 goals against average, a .911 save percentage, and three shutouts while backup netminder Aaron Dell is 12-4-3 with a 2.51 goals against average, a .917 save percentage and two shutouts.
If these guys can continue to supply this kind of goaltending and may be even play a bit better, it could go along way to helping get this team into the playoffs come April. In order for the goaltending to mean something, that means another area of their game needs to improve.
That area would be offense. Despite having a lot of offensive talent, this team is currently (February 1, 2018) 17th in the league in goals scored, which is something that is going to need to improve.
You know that the team's offense is inconsistent when your team leader in points is a defenseman (Brent Burns - 8 goals and 34 assists for 42 points). Other guys like Logan Couture (21 goals and 16 assists for 37 points), Joe Thornton (currently injured - 13 goals and 23 assists for 36 points), Joe Pavelski (10 goals and 25 assists for 35 points), and Tomas Hertl (14 goals and 17 assists for 31 points) all need to be better.
Another thing to look at in terms of offense for this team is the fact that they no longer have Patrick Marleau, who is now a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. When Marleau was a Shark, he usually had high goal totals so with him no longer on the team , it is easy to see why the team's goal scoring would be down.
Other than those two things, this team is in decent shape. They have a solid power play (fifth in the league), a stellar penalty killing (second in the league), and a good coach in Peter DeBoer that can help this team get into the playoffs.
If this club can manage to get better goaltending than they have been and put the puck in the net with some regularity, this team should make the playoffs and be somewhat of a threat to have success in them.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.