Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Sharks in review

Two games in and I think we've seen both good and bad from this season's San Jose Sharks. They're definitely not quite hitting their stride yet, but I think a lot of the key components are there for this team to really come together.

The good
-Joe Thornton is shooting the puck. Big Joe's got a hell of a shot, and by putting the puck on net more, it opens up a whole host of options. If Joe's shooting more, defenses will have to decide between guarding passing lanes and guarding Thornton, which will only open up more shooting space for Patrick Marleau and Jonathan Cheechoo.

-The top line. Cheechoo still hasn't scored, but I'm pretty pleased with the play of the Thornton/Marleau/Cheechoo combination so far. There's a lot of creative playmaking going on, and Cheechoo's got his share of one-timers fired off -- without a few great saves by Roberto Luongo, Cheech would have had two goals last night. The scary thing is that the trio can get even better.

-Torey Mitchell. Well, I didn't make it out to any preseason games, so I only read about Torey Mitchell, but mark me impressed. He's got great hands, great instincts, and blazing speed. Putting him together with Milan Michalek seems like a great idea.

-Evgeni Nabokov. Ok, Nabby sucks at the shootout. That's not a big surprise, but he's been absolutely stellar so far, including some great stops on Ales Hemsky and the Sedin twins.

-Jeremy Roenick. All fanboyism aside, JR had a bad game against Edmonton, but he looked as good as Sharks fans could hope for against Vancouver. And the fact that he's only been positive with a good attitude, even at the prospect of being scratched on opening night, can only help the Sharks.

-A little team toughness: The Sharks have showed more collective team resolve regarding hitting and standing up for one another. They don't need to recreate the Broad Street Bullies, but a little "screw you" mentality is definitely a step up.

The bad
-Joe Pavelski, Steve Bernier, Ryane Clowe. Pavleski was a scoring leader in the preseason, but he's pretty much disappeared. Bernier was better against Vancouver, but he's still being surprisingly easy to push off the puck. Ryane Clowe hasn't even really been noticeable on the ice.

-The penalty kill. I know the PK's numbers are good so far, but I really think that's more due to Nabby's play than the actual PK group out there. I mean, you keep scrambling like that and the puck's gonna go in the net sooner or later. I'd get Curtis Brown back in the lineup just because the combo of him and Mike Grier worked extremely well last year.

-Kyle McLaren. I love Kyle, but he's definitely had a hard time, especially with Edmonton's speedy forwards. Maybe he needs to take a power skating class or something, he's just looking out of place there.

-Christian Ehrhoff. My personal theory about Ehrhoff? He's learning a lot from Sandis Ozolinsh -- turn the puck over, get it back, and try and go end-to-end. Hey, Christian, how about fewer bad passes and more one-timers from the point?

-The power play. I think the top line is trying to get too cute with their passing and cycling during the power play, and having McLaren fan on shots from the point isn't helping. Late in the Vancouver game, Ron Wilson moved Joe Pavelski to the point, and that might be a more effective option. It'll be interesting to see what happens next week when Ozolinsh becomes eligible for a contract. The fact that he hasn't been released yet must mean he's doing well.

Basically, most of my concern really stems around the defense, and that's been pretty constant since the off-season. The Sharks have plenty of cap space and trading material to bring in a big name (paging Wade Redden), but hopefully, the whole season won't hinge on that.

1 comment:

Megalodon said...

I was pretty nervous when the team struggled to score against the bunch of bums they have in Edmonton, but putting three past the best goalie in the West helped me feel better.

However, Marleau on the top line really reveals a lack of dependable scoring on all the other lines. Michalek aside, it's a bunch of guys who are all potential, but could also dissapear for long stretches.