Sunday, May 23, 2010

San Jose Sharks: A Short Reflection of the 2010 Season.

As an avid Sharks fan, it is never easy to see their elimination from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, especially since they have shown terrific promise this year. Despite the less-than-desired exit, one cannot say the Sharks “performed badly post-season as usual” or “failed to perform” this year. The team had a fantastic year, finishing first in the Western Conference (second overall in the NHL), and advancing to the Conference Finals of the playoffs, falling short only to another incredibly strong team; one that had been seeded behind the Sharks by only one point. In the process, fans saw some huge wins, and had witnessed some very talented and contributive individuals. We have watched players such as defenseman Dan Boyle, arguably the best offensive defenseman to play today, new star Joe Pavelski, the Sharks’ current top clutch player, and the usual suspects Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Dany Heatley lighting up and entertaining the home crowd. Say what you want about Dany Heatley, but his regular season performance was what helped push the Sharks to their top seed in the first place. With some well-needed rest and off-season training, there is no doubt the Sharks will return to the next season ready to go.

In addition, there was veteran captain Rob Blake, rock solid forward Ryane Clowe, star rookie Logan Couture, faceoff and forechecking king Manny Malhotra, goal clincher Devin Setoguchi, and workaholic Scott Nichol – all with amazing seasons. Never have I been so amped to watch the Sharks play hockey, because this year, they were really good.

As many of you know, the Sharks have typically fared well in the regular season the past few years. Now, it is up to the team to find out how to properly play in clutch situations. Besides the obvious conclusion about needing the “want” and the “hunger” to win, here are a few observations I have made concerning the Sharks that could help them in future playoff seasons:

1) The Sharks need more snipers. A sniper is a player that can, quite literally, score at will if they are given the chance to have a decent shot. They have the ability to shoot fast and hard and and put the puck in just about any corner they wish. Unfortunately, the Sharks do not have a player that (specifically) fits this category, although there are a lot of good shooters on the team. Sharks’ goals are mainly scored from wonderful puck handling plays, tip-ins, and close range shots. If the Sharks can get at least one, possibly two players in this category, they can put together lethal scoring lines. It is evident the Sharks lack snipers mainly due to their typical dominance of the “shots on goal” counter but not necessarily the scoreboard.

2) The Sharks need to improve some aspects of their defensive game. This is not to take a jab at the skill level of the Sharks’ current defensive lines. (As a defenseman myself, I idolize players like Dan Boyle.) However, it is important to improve where the Sharks failed to perform well. In particular, and especially when watching other teams with terrific defensive configurations, the Sharks must do a better job of choking up the slot and covering shooters. Most of the goals scored against the Sharks were from lines rushing into the zone, passing the puck in ways to open up shooters, where one would be able to rip a shot either from the high slot or in another lethal shooting zone. I found that the Habs (Montreal Canadiens) did this very well after watching their games so far this series. Being able to play well in this manner will diminish the amount of shots on the Sharks net.

3) The Sharks need more big hitters (enforcers, if you will). Although the Sharks have had some in the past, like current New York Rangers forward Jody Shelley, there is currently no dedicated enforcer, at least one that I know of. Enforcers need not essentially fight all the time, but be the ones to line up players of the opposing team to deliver hits. Players like Joe Thornton may be able to dish out some pretty massive hits, however he is primarily known for his ability to play as a power forward and set up some great plays. What the Sharks need is, more or less, a dedicated enforcer, sent out on the ice to rile the other team up. The Blackhawks, for instance, found their heavy enforcer in forward Ben Eager, who on many occasions would throw his massive frame around to knock some unsuspecting Sharks players off of the puck and on to the ice.

Although I am sure there are more subtle details on how the Sharks could have improved their game, these three stuck out huge. It is one thing to have some fantastic players, but it is another to have the complete package. Especially when faced against an incredibly fast Chicago Blackhawks team, having some players with specific roles are what are needed to have pure competition.

From the spectator’s standpoint, there may have been some players who did not perform up to expectations during the playoffs, however all can change next season. I have the confidence the Sharks will put together a massively powerful team this year to become a top contender for the next year’s Stanley Cup. Although the Sharks may have some work to do, it is up to you, the FANS, to continue your diehard support for your local team, and keep rocking the teal!

Remember, San Jose is not just home to Silicon Valley…it is also the Sharks Territory!

Thank you for all of your support this year! There is a reason opponents loathe playing games at the coveted HP Pavilion: it’s because of you, the fans, showing your support, and making it known that our team, the San Jose Sharks, are a force to be reckoned with!


  1. Thanks for all the great posts this season! Hopefully, next year you'll be writing about the Stanley Cup win =)

  2. Thank you, kind sir. I hope so as well! Every year, a little bit closer.