Eight games down and 74 left before the postseason. Plenty of hockey yet to play for the San Jose Sharks but have we already seen a snip-it of what the rest of the season will be like?
Obviously, the Sharks have too much offensive firepower to merely win four out of every eight games for the rest of the season. However, the manner in which they have won and lost games thus far this season has done little to put the offseason concerns to rest.
San Jose’s defensive corps still hasn’t shown to be anywhere close to Stanley Cup caliber, the goaltending has been inconsistent and the offense has been at times top-heavy.
While it is a positive sign that the big three of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Dany Heatley can carry the team in a particular game, the role players have to be able to contribute when the top guns get shut down.
Unfortunately for San Jose, even though the top three turned up their even strength play on Wednesday, offense from other key sources will need to improve.
Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe have eight goals between them but Devin Setoguchi has been stuck on just one goal since San Jose returned from Sweden.
Furthermore, the Sharks have just 10 points amongst their defenseman, and five of those are courtesy of Dan Boyle.
Boyle, who also owns the only goal for a Shark defenseman thus far has been leading a far from Cup worthy defensive unit. Boyle and Douglas Murray form an ideal top unit with scoring and defensive play but the second pairing of Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Niclas Wallin have been far from an ideal shut-down pairing.
Throughout these first eight games, both Shark netminders in Antero Niittymaki and Antti Niemi have frequently been left out to dry by the defense. Niittymaki’s posted the better numbers thus far as each goalie has earned four decisions a piece but a much larger percentage of Niemi’s goals allowed have been due to poor defensive coverage.
Simply put, if the Sharks are going to remain a top seed in the Western Conference this season and make another deep playoff run, there are numerous areas in which they need to improve on.