Six Games In
Instead of writing some game recaps, I decided to give my take on some players that are playing well, some that aren't, and some keys to winning games.
Michal Handzus – This guy might be the prototypical 3rd line center that every team needs. Remember Malhotra? Handzus is the bottom six player the Sharks needed last year, and he has not disappointed. Defensively he is really good, he is always above 50% in the faceoff dot, and he has offensive upside with the ability to take to the odd PP shift.
Joe Pavelski – Who would have guessed that Pavelski would be the sniper of the first line? He has four goals in six games and doesn't look out of place at all playing on the top line with Marleau and Thornton.
Joe Thornton – Speaking of Thornton, he played his 1000th game the other night against New Jersey, registering a goal on his special night (so he FINALLY learned to shoot). Big Joe has a goal and 3 assists so far this year and seems to be heating up.
Martin Havlat – I know he has only played two games, but he has looked just as good as advertised in those two games. Defensively, he is always positionally aware and is usually the first forward back on the backcheck. Offensively, he has 2 assists in 2 games. Plus, the Sharks have yet to lose a game with Havlat in the lineup, that has to be worth something.
Room For Improvement:
Brent Burns – Sure, offensively hes been pretty good and has that big shot from the point, but defensively he hasn't been all that. He seems to go down far to often and does not always have the best positioning.
Patrick Marleau – Patty has a goal and two assists. That's ok. But considering that those two assists came in the first game and the goal was an empty netter, it becomes less impressive. Marleau needs to be a game-changer for this team, he is being payed like a game changer, but has yet to step it up this season.
Ryane Clowe – I won't list Clowe's stats, because that might sway how you look at his game. All I know is that he seems to make a lot of passes that go nowhere near their intended recipient. He needs to improve on the small parts of his game, but that will come as the season progresses.
Antti Niemi – I do not blame Niemi for being rusty since coming back from knee surgery, but in his first two games, the Sharks needed him to be better. However, he seems to be coming in to his game, as he made 39 saves against the Bruins last night. Hopefully he can keep it up.
Keys to Winning (or Losing):
Turnovers – Come on guys, this isn't peewee hockey, you are professionals. Learn to make pass and stop giving the other team the puck.
3rd Periods – This is an area where the Sharks drastically need to improve, dating back to last season. They seem to always be letting in goals and giving up leads in the final period, something that will drive your coach, and fans, crazy. Against the Bruins last night they had a two goal lead heading into the third and gave that up in a thirty second span.
Playing 60 Minutes – During the three game losing streak, there is no doubt that the main reason the Sharks were losing those games (except for the fact that they were inept at scoring goals) was that they were taking periods off. Teams are too good in this league to expect to win games when you don't give a consistent effort for an entire game.
Some Strange Stats -
The league leaders in goals are Kessel, Neal, and Michalek. Did Ovechkin and Stamkos change their names or did they just forget how to score?
NIKOLAI KHABIBULIN leads the league in GAA with an amazing 0.72. And no that was not a typo.
Jonathan Quick has 3 straight shutouts. Do you know the last goalie to record 3 straight? It was Steve Mason in 2008. How's that working for him?
Speaking of Columbus, they suck. Like, really bad. The Jackets currently have 0 wins. They were beating Ottawa last night with 37 seconds left in the game and LOST IN REGULATION.
TWITTAH - feel free to follow me @homersampson. Please?