Head coach Peter DeBoer rearranged his lines before the San Jose Sharks visited the Tampa Bay Lightning for their first meeting of the season Saturday night.
DeBoer promoted Mikkel Boedker to the second line, downgraded Kevin Labanc to the third line and switched Joe Pavelski and Joel Ward in the top line.
It turns out that the unforeseen changes were actually pretty good.
San Jose put forth its best offensive output in this road trip so far. The Sharks’ forward lines have been generating chances and playing with rhythm over the last two games alone.
Patrick Marleau contributed to the struggling San Jose offense. When the Sharks play offense, their defense and goaltending steps forward in unison.
The veteran forward scored on a difficult play that might’ve not been counted. Marleau breathed a sigh of relief after referees said his goal was good because the puck crossed the goal line. It was initially waved off because he crashed into the net with Andrej Sustr and Brayden Point.
“They’re obviously one of the better teams in the League and a very highly skilled group over there,” Marleau told NHL.com correspondent Corey Long. “We knew we had our work cut out for us tonight, and the guys did a good job.”
The Sharks have a reason to be concerned about his Marleau’s decline as he just turned 37 in September. He has scored five points (four goals, one assist) and has a minus-two rating in 15 games thus far. It’s still early in the season, but DeBoer is satisfied with his progress.
Marleau notched his 485th career goal in Tampa Bay. The offense is starting to click after being under the radar.
Despite his early season struggles, Marleau can improve his production.
Marleau scored 48 points (25 goals, 23 assists) and had a minus-22 rating last season. This was his lowest point total since 2007-08. Nine years ago, he scored the same 48 points (25 goals, 23 assists) and finished with a minus-19 rating.
His longevity and his ability to be an effective player this late in his career is respectable, even if he’s not the guy he was a few years ago. Marleau currently plays as a third line left wing alongside center Tomas Hertl and rookie right wing Kevin Labanc. So far, so good.
Marleau’s presence can make a difference in the outcomes of Sharks games. With his excellent speed, Marleau can catch defenders off guard by blazing right by them. He has a natural goal scoring ability that’s highlighted by a deadly shot and good size. He also has the ability to make good judgments and quick decisions on the ice.
It’s important to have offensive talent on all four lines. Everyone on the team can make things happen by racking up points.
The Sharks’ competitiveness is coming at the right time in all the right places. They aren’t where they want to be yet, but they’re fighting hard to make their way to the top.