The opening month of the 2015-2016 National Hockey League is in the books and the San Jose Sharks are off rocky start. They have played ten games. We (the fans) have great expectations from Team Teal on the 25th anniversary of the Sharks this season. They are the first team to only let two goals or less through the first four games of a season since the 1948-1949 Detroit Red Wings. The Sharks won their first four games and then problems began.
In their first outing in Los Angeles, San Jose emerged victorious 5-1. The next two games against the Anaheim Ducks and Washington Capitols were shut-out wins (2-0 and 5-0 respectively). Coach Peter DeBoer faced his old team, the New Jersey Devils, on Friday October 16th. It was a matter of pride for the team to win the game for Peter and so they did. Alas, the shut-out streak of Jones was broken. New Jersey scored to tie the game 1-1. It would g from the three-on-three overtime (three-on-two when SJ took a penalty) and a shoot-out but the Sharks were tenacious and earned the second point to remain on top.
The fifth game started the troubles. Alec Stalock started in goal hoping for his first win of the season over the New York Islanders. SJ lost 6-3. The nest game had Jones in defending the net against the New York Rangers. That was a shut-out loss (4-0). Los Angeles took revenge with a 4-1 win. Finally, the Sharks managed to get back to a winning form over Carolina with a 5-2 victory. Joel Ward scored a hat trick against his former team. The next game was another loss, Nashville taking the two pints with a 2-1 win. The final game of the month had the Sharks facing off against the Dallas Stars at home. Niemi guarded the net for the Stars against his old team, earning a 5-3 win.
Our favorite men in teal had a blow when Logan Couture fractured his fibula during the morning skate. Is this a death knell for San Jose? No. Stocked with a mix of veterans and young players the talent abounds. Logan will be missed but the guys will soldier on.
San Jose ends the month of October in the middle of the pack with 10 points out of a possible 20 (for an even 500). Joel Ward is leading the team with 11 points (7 goals and 4 assists). Captain America, Joe Pavelski is second with 10 (6-4) and has 3 GWG. Brent Burns leads in shots with 49. The 41 game League suspension for Raffi Torres aside (that’s like, 4,920 minutes), Mike Brown leads in penalty minutes with 22. Martin Jones has spent most of the game time guarding the net. He has a .932 save percentage and a 1.88 goals against average.
So, how does San Jose match up against the rest of the League? The power house team of this season is Montreal only lost 2 of 13 games). We Sharks fans DREAM of such an amazing streak. Luckily, it is early. Logan and Raffi will return. Whether Raffi will make an impact remains to be seen but Logan definitely influences his team mates.
They stand in 15th place in terms of wins; 16th for goals scored; 18th for goals against; 1rst for face-offs won; 12th for shots per game; 20th for the power play; and 21rst for the penalty kill.
Clearly, San Jose has some work to do in the special teams department.
Joe Thornton was heard to quip after he scored his first goal that the goalatender didn’t expect him to shoot. That is why he scored. Sadly, I think this is a problem with the team in general. In the documentary, “Red Army” it was noted that the Russian Five dazzled their opponents with puck movement and passing. I think San Jose needs to get rid of that thinking. A goal is a goal, whether it came from a beautiful set-up or quirky shot. Putting the puck on net is key. Watching the team when they have 13 shots by the end of the third epriod leads me to this conclusion. One HAS to shoot to score and must score to win. I also believe this tendency to pass instead of making a shot has cost them the ‘W’ this and previous seasons. One also needs to be aggressive on the backcheck. Don’t leave opposing players open. Screen goalies.
Well, if the Kansas City Royals can win a Wolrd Series trophy, the end path for the Sahrks is possible. Bring that Cup home!
recap of game one:
game two re-cap
game three re-cap
game four re-cap
we’re not going to bother re-capping most of the other games.
Stay safe out there!