Jeremy Guerin | December 29th, 2018
The San Jose Sharks are finally looking like what people expected coming into the season. Or are they?
They have 49 points, tied with Calgary for the best record in the Pacific. They are 7-1-2 in their last ten games, but the only game against a formidable opponent was a 5-3 to the Winnipeg Jets. There are many things to like about the Sharks, but are they finally looking like the team many experts picked to win the Western Conference?
For starters, let’s address the problems the Sharks are facing, starting with their age. The Sharks are the fifth oldest team in the NHL, trailing only the Minnesota Wild, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights, and Los Angeles Kings. The other four teams? All have struggled mightily at points throughout the season. The Sharks struggled out of the gate as well, dealing with an injury from Joe Thornton and mediocrity throughout the lineup. Timo Meier started off scorching, but he was injured and missed several games for San Jose. The Sharks are full of grizzled veterans like Brent Burns, Thornton, and Joe Pavelski, but the injuries might catch up with them eventually because they will need to fight for playoff position as a result of their slow start.
The other elephant in the room is the Sharks’ big offseason acquisition. Erik Karlsson donned teal this past summer to join the aforementioned Burns to make a tremendous pair of Norris Trophy winners. So far, Karlsson hasn’t lived up to expectations. Now the two haven’t been paired with each other, but he has registered just two goals on the season. He has 24 assists, but the complete package that supposedly came with Karlsson included the dynamic offensive presence.
Finally, there is the goaltending. Martin Jones was giving up an atrocious 3.00 goals per game earlier this year, but it has started to go down and he is down to a 2.83 GAA. However, the Sharks keep running into the same problem. They win a game 5-1 and lose the next one 6-0. They can’t get any sort of momentum going, and according to ESPN, they have only had a middle of the pack schedule. The Sharks need consistency between the pipes between Jones and Aaron Dell.
Can the Sharks put it together? Sure they can. But there are still a lot of holes on this team. While it is a scary thought to imagine them at full strength, it is questionable as to whether they ever get there. San Jose needs to tune up multiple issues before the playoffs. Don’t be fooled by this recent stretch; they have taken advantage of some cupcake teams. This Sharks team needs to improve, or their Stanley Cup aspirations are in for a rude awakening.
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