SJ Sharks Preview
One question has been loitering on the minds of San Jose hockey fans for the
2008-2009 season; can the Sharks win a Stanley cup? In 2007-2008 the answer was a
painful NO as they were eliminated by the Dallas Stars in only the second round of the
The loss to Dallas left fans feeling sick, and Shark’s management puzzled. How
could a team with so much talent not make it past the second round? San Jose has had the
talent and potential to advance to the Cup finals for the last four seaons, but have time
and time again fallen in the second round.
The demand for better playoff performance has led to some changes in leadership and
some additional personnel that has soothed the sick feelings of the Shark’s nation, and
left them optimistic about the upcoming season. Here are some of the keys to the Shark’s
having a great season, and moving past the second round of the playoffs.
1) Coaching: Ron Wilson was replaced during the off-season by former Redwing’s
offensive coach Todd McLellan. This was a huge move by the Sharks, because
McLellan is coming off a Stanley Cup winning season with the ‘Wings. McLellan
will have his work cut out for him as a rookie head coach, but the Shark’s want
someone with winning experience in the playoffs. This was a great move because
McLellan will fine-tune the Shark’s power play, and beef up their penalty kill squad
as well (only 75% in playoffs last year). There is no doubt that the Shark’s will make
the playoffs again this year, and with McLellan at the helm, who knows how far they
2) Trades: The Shark’s have made a couple moves including trading Rivet, Rissmiller,
Carle, and Campbell. In return they have picked up:
A. Dan Boyle-Great veteran from Tampa Bay Lightning, has had some problems
with a wrist injury, but the Shark’s hope he can lead the power play and is capable of
scoring 20 plus goals.
B. Brad Lukowich- Also from Lightning, was injured most of last season, hopes
to contribute to Shark’s Defense.
C. Rob Blake-at 6’4 225, Blake adds some size and skill on the D line to replace
The most important statistic that all three of these players have in common are
Stanley Cup rings. This is another clear sign that the Shark’s are thinking ahead to
the playoffs, signing veterans who have been all the way.
3) Great regular season play from returning players:
A. The Shark’s need Joe Thornton to stay healthy first and foremost. Thornton
had a dominating season in 2007-2008, leading the team in scoring (29 goals) and
assists (67). He is arguably the best passer in the league, and one of the best players
in the entire NHL, but he can’t carry this team to the Cup alone.
B. Jonathon Cheecho is another key component of the Shark’s offense, but last
season was a disappointing one, as he scored only 23 goals, down from 56 just one
year earlier. Cheecho needs to start producing higher numbers if the Shark’s want to
make a run.
C. Ryan Clowe needs to stay healthy this season. He was sorely missed in 2007
when a knee injury forced him to miss all but 15 games of the regular season. Still,
he put up 5 goals and 4 assists during the Shark’s 13 playoff games, proving that he is
still a key component to this team.
D. Torrey Mitchell needs to recover from his broken leg. The Shark’s announced
the Sophomore Shark’s leg was broken during practice, and that he will be out for 8
weeks. This isn’t a huge deal since it is at the beginning of the year, but the Shark’s
need Mitchell’s speed and penalty-killing skills come the playoffs. If he loses a step
the Shark’s are going to have to look elsewhere for the explosiveness Mitchell brings
to this team.
E. Patrick Marleau is still in San Jose after rumors of a trade in the off-season.
Marleau, the captain of the Sharks, had a falling out with Ron Wilson last season, and
only produced a fraction of what he is capable of in the regular season. He scored 19
goals and 29 assists, down from 32 goals and 49 assists in 2006-2007. Marleau didn’t
have a bad season, but he didn’t have a great season either. If the Shark’s expect to
make it far in the playoffs, they need Marleau to become reanimated and lead again.
F. Evengi Nabokov is undeniably one of the best goaltenders in the league. His
play last season proved to every Shark’s fan that Nabby is the backbone of this team.
The Shark’s finally gave Nabokov a starring role in 2007-08, letting him start 77
games. He rewarded the team by putting up 46 wins, and only allowing 2.14 goals
per game (third best in league) and 6 shutouts. Fans who watched the playoffs last
year can tell you that the only reason the Shark made it to the second round was
Evengi Nabokov. Although his numbers weren’t phenomenal, Nabby made so many
clutch saves against the Calgary Flames in the first round, and then the Stars in the
second that San Jose began to take him for granted. Anyone who doubts Nabokov
only has to YouTube his name to see some of the best goaltending in the history of
4) Executing in the Playoffs: this is an area that has been the Shark’s Achilles heel.
Despite having a great record during the regular season, the Shark’s fall apart in the
playoffs the last few years. In 2007-2008 playoffs, San Jose tied with Colorado for
the least amount of goals scored, 26. If the Sharks want to be competitive they have
to step up their offense, penalty killing, and power play come playoff time. The
Sharks have a great team this year, and if all the pieces fall into place they have a
legitimate chance to win the Cup.