San Jose Sharks Are Finally True Contenders
The San Jose Sharks have been one of the better franchises when it comes to wins and losses over the last decade. Ever since trading for Joe Thornton in 2005, the Sharks made the playoffs every season except last year. That includes 2006, when they were in last place when Thornton arrived. This team has been a contender in years past, but this year feels different.
The main difference between this year and years past is what is happening on the back end. It all starts with Martin Jones, who came over after the Boston Bruins traded Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings. Jones was never going to get a shot sitting behind Jonathan Quick, so they made him available. Now, the Sharks and the Kings are tied for the top of the Pacific Division with 26 points. To be fair, this has been the worst division in terms of points. Either way, Jones brings a different mindset to the goaltender position. The Sharks can rely on Jones if their offense doesn’t produce on a given night. Antti Niemi and Evgeni Nabokov did not bring that same confidence.
The Sharks have won six games in a row. It is the second streak of at least four games already this season. The Sharks need to get more consistent, but they are learning under new coach Peter DeBoer. By the time January hits, we will know exactly what this team is, and that will be a scary team for the rest of the league.
Joe Pavelski and Marc-Edouard Vlasic have been carrying their teams from their prospective decisions. Pavelski leads the team with 20 points in 21 games. He has four game winning goals, which is tied for most in the NHL. He is the guy the Sharks look to when they need a goal. Half of those came in situations where if he didn’t score then the team would not have won. Vlasic is a guy who never received the credit he deserved. He is one of the best defenseman in the game, but he will never be in the conversation with Erik Karlsson or Shea Weber.
There is too much going right for this team to ignore them when talking about contenders.
It is true that their streaky nature is concerning, as well as their paltry 13.6 percent powerplay; however, if they can find a way to fix those two things, this team could be unstoppable.