After starting the season on a seven-game winning streak, the San Jose Sharks have watched their offense go cold. The team is now on a six-game losing slide, and it doesn’t get easier anytime soon. Two of the next three games for the Sharks will pit them against the NHL-leading Chicago Blackhawks, the only team without a regulation loss in 2013.
During the current skid, the Sharks have never scored more than three goals, and have only scored more than one goal on two occasions. Star players Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski have gone cold after red-hot starts to the season and need to step it up if the Sharks hope to stay competitive against the best teams in the Western Conference. The previous meeting between the Sharks and Blackhawks was an exciting one, as goaltenders Corey Crawford and Antti Niemi battled. Crawford prevailed with a 5-3 win, but Niemi will get at least one more shot at his former team in the next week.
If the Sharks want to have a good showing against the Blackhawks, a great starting point would be improving their power play. The Sharks have converted just twice with the man-advantage in their last eight games, despite having 31 chances. The Blackhawks have the second-best penalty kill in the league, so that might be easier said than done. Both of these teams rank among the league’s best in goals against and most would expect a goaltending duel when they clash. If their first meeting is any indication, this could be a high-scoring affair and a great chance for the Sharks to get their offense back on track.