Best of the West

Through much doubt, early difficulties, and a large change in the locker-room (over the last 12 months), the Sharks have turned themselves around this year to proove that last season was mearly a fluke.There are several key reasons that this U-turn has been so abrupt:

1) The players are buying into coach Ron Wilson’s system of a hard forecheck and using the teams abbundance of speed to their advantage. This system allows the opposing teams little time to make plays and get set up, which is resulting in many turnovers and scoring chances. Marleau, Strurm, Korolyuk, and Primeau are some of the fastest players in the game right now, and are using their speed to create opportunities, not only for themselves, but for their linemates as well.

2) The emergence of Pat Marleau as a true force in the NHL. He is playing smart hockey, taking advantage of slower opposing players, and is throwing his weight around. But the main reason for his stellar play is it seems like he is playing every shift as though it was his last. Being named captain for 10 games is only going to boost his confidence.

3) GOALTENDING!!! The Sharks would be duking it out with Chicago in the standings if it were not for the re-emergence of Nabokov as a top tier goalie, and for the outstanding play of “backup” Vesa Toskala. There isn’t a team in the league that has recieve such reliable netminding from BOTH of their goalies this season.

There have been a few negatives however. The play of Brad Stuart of late has been dismal. He made 3 or 4 mistakes again the Red Wings on Monday that resulted in several quality scoring chances, and a goal. I wish this was just an off night for him, but it has been happening quite a bit since his return to the Shark Tank (after last season injuries, which limited him to 30+ games). Rathje… why won’t he skate? he glides up and down the rink with as much vigor as my grandmother walking up and down the stairs. And to top that off he doesn’t use his size to his advantage.

We now find ourselves in mid-January, and the Sharks find themselves just 4 points back of Detroit for the lead in not only the west, but the entire league. With 3 victories in their last 3 games against top raking clubs (Van, Col, and Det), San Jose has sent a message to the rest of the league. Opposing teams take note- the Sharks are back.


24 Responses to Best of the West

  1. Wills says:

    I watched SJ beat Detroit 2-1 at the shark tank monday night. To be honest, Nabokov stole the game without a doubt, and SJ got outplayed pretty bad. One thing I noticed about the Sharks is that they have a very fast team, maybe the fastest team in the NHL. Another thing I noticed was besides Marleau they really don’t have that many dangerous forwards upfront. Although their defense is huge they also lack a offensive defensemen that can run their powerplay, making their powerplay the night I watched them look brutal. This team is a good team (not as skilled as a Colorado, Vancouver or Detroit) with a great goalie right now. As long as their goaltending stays hot this team should stay with the top teams in the West, but if Nabokov starts to fall, this team will quickly fall with him.

  2. nocuphere says:

    Last year wasn’t really a fluke. The sharks played sub-par during the season, but played really well the last 25 games or so, and carried it over to this year.

    Just goes to show that you don’t need a high payroll to compete.

  3. defenestrate says:

    “Best Of The West”…I like that kind of unbridled optimism. The turnaround is indeed impressive, and as long as your goaltending continues in this vein, you will be competitive. Good luck knocking out the Wings (whoa – flashback!).

  4. matteo says:

    Yes you do so need a high payroll. Especially high priced veterans. If you dont have at least one 9 million dollar checking forward that barely scores then you are horrible, and a poopie head.

    Love,

    Bobbie C.

  5. nocuphere says:

    what ta fuck? Matteo, you didn’t turn gay overnight dude. Did you?

  6. Lint07 says:

    I see them acquire either Jeff O’neill or Robert Lang before the deadline…

  7. matteo says:

    I’m just fuckin around

  8. nocuphere says:

    Good. I thought you were swinging from the other side of the plate. haha.

  9. TRaPT1307 says:

    yeah.. That game honestly reminded me of the Wings v Ducks in the playoffs last year.

  10. dkball7 says:

    “There isn’t a team in the league that has recieve such reliable netminding from BOTH of their goalies this season.”

    I know I may seem biased, but the devils have gotten 4 great performances out of Corey Schwab, and Scott Clemmensen. Here are their COMBINED stats:

    3-0-1-0

    .979 sv %

    .48 GAA

    It’s not just Marty behind the pipes in the swamp.

  11. UsedPuckBag says:

    The title was kind of a typo. I meant to add a question mark at the end, but forgot to do so.

  12. defenestrate says:

    It’s better this way. Be confident. You catch more flak (and thus have more fun) that way.

  13. distance7 says:

    Not trying to take away from it, but you have to put in the fact that Clemmensen shut out the Penguins..trap Vs. trap in that epic battle of dump and not chase. Dump it in boys, KEEP FOUR BACK!

  14. defenestrate says:

    He’s being “metrosexual”, whatever that is. I thought it was someone who likes to have sex on public transportation, but my daughter has informed me that I’m, as usual, incorrect.

  15. TC_4 says:

    The reason why the Sharks have turned the corner is Nabakov. However, don’t expect big things out of this Shark team come playoff time. Unless they play like the Ducks and Wild did last year. It’s there, but I believe that the Flames, Stars, Blues, and Oilers(all possible first round opponents for the Sharks)would knock them out, if they don’t make any serious moves. I said it here before, Anson Carter would be a decent fit on this team. I don’t think there is a doubt this team needs som offense, and Carter can defintley bring that. Another possiblity(that would fit really good)is Jeff O’Neill. Would they deal Toskala to get a big name??? I wouldn’t be too surprised.

  16. TC_4 says:

    BTW, really good article man! It looks like they removed some cancers from the locker room, and that helped.

  17. TC_4 says:

    That’s a lie! They started off this season BRUTAL(the first game of the year, the Oilers played terrible, and even I’ll admit that isn’t a top 10 team in this league, and still beat them 5-2). They never got it going until about game 12 or 15, somewhere in there.

  18. nocuphere says:

    I haven’t heard of the metrosexual before. yikes!!

  19. nocuphere says:

    You talking to me?

  20. nocuphere says:

    Thats a lie is it? Go look at the stats bro. They tied like 8 of there first 13 games, and had two wins in between. I said they got rolling around the end of the year last year, and they did, and they only have 11 losses this year, so do the math.

  21. UsedPuckBag says:

    The way Toskala has played this season, and in the few games he played in previous years has been outstanding. He has the more potential (IMO) then any goalie that I have seen go through the Sharks system, Nobokov included. There is almost no chance they would trade him for O’neill (a UFA at seasons end), unless the Canes sweetened the pot.

  22. UsedPuckBag says:

    As much as I loved Nolan as a Shark, and as pissed as I was when they traded him, I really think it helped the team chemistry.

  23. dkball7 says:

    Note to predz fan:

    No matter how much you would like it, there is no such thing as a “hitting system”.

    P.S: THE PREDATORS PLAY THE TRAP TOO!!!!!!!

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