San Jose Sharks: A Quick Comparison

San Jose Sharks WRECKED

With the 2010-2011 NHL regular season coming to a close, it’s time to put out a few comparisons, observations, and maybe a rant or two about our beloved San Jose Sharks.

This Year vs Last Year

Offense

Last year was pretty epic: we almost had two 40-goal scorers and another ridiculous amount of assists from Thornton, but most of it came in the first half of the season and seemed to trickle away towards the end and damn near disappeared in the playoffs. This year, our offense has been much more interesting and much more spread out making several lines difficult to play against. The big three, Heatley, Marleau and Thornton, are down in scoring from last season but I don’t think anyone will argue against them being our superstars. Players that are normally a little lower have stepped up huge: Ryane Clowe is only 3 points behind Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski is pacing Dany Heatley, not to mention rookie Logan Couture hitting the 30-goal mark, and production from guys like Wellwood, Eager, Mayers have all contributed to what I feel has been a more balanced offense this year.

2009-2010 2010-2011
Thornton 20 G , 69 A 20 G , 48 A
Marleau 44 G , 39 A 37 G , 34 A
Heatley 39 G , 43 A 25 G , 37 A
Clowe 19 G , 38 A 24 G , 38 A
Pavelski 25 G , 26 A 19 G , 46 A
Couture 5 G , 4 A 31 G , 23A
Setoguchi 20 G, 16 A 22 G , 19 A
TOTAL 172 G , 235 A 178 G , 245 A

(Note: this is being written with about 2 or 3 games left in the season.)

Getting paid $7-$8 million a season, Heatley should be higher than 25 goals. Marleau is doing fine (ever notice how Marleau always looks like he’s about to cry?) and hopefully Thornton gets at LEAST 2 more assists to hit 50, I know I don’t get paid at work for falling short on my quota. Other than those guys, I feel that production this season has overall gone up.  Maybe the Sharks should consider spreading some of that wealth down to the “little guys”… Clowe and Pavelski are two of the most dedicated and passionate players we have on the team and definitely deserve a raise. Or, at the very least, management should take them out for a shot and a beer.

Winner: This Year

Defense

We’ve had some minor changes with rookies being brought up and send down from the AHL. We had one big change in losing Rob Blake last season; even in his old age he was still a solid player and huge presence on the ice with a monstrous slapshot and a lot of leadership. It was clear when Doug Wilson tried to sign Niklas Hjalmarsson that he was looking for a top D-man to fill Blakes shoes. The season started without a suitable replacement. Fast forward to February 18th, we acquire Ian White from Carolina for a draft pick, which was awesome because Ian White is a strong defenseman with good puck moving abilities and makes a great addition to our system. Otherwise, our defensive core is, for the most part, the same: Boyle, Murray, Vlasic, Wallin, Demers, Huskins, and some rookies here and there. Aside from Boyle showing a small decrease in goals from 15 last season to 8 this season, our defense is on pace with last season.

Winner: Tie

Goaltending: Nabby Vs Niemi

Evgeni Nabokov: 10 seasons on the Sharks, 9 years as the starter.
Career GAA: 2.39 Save %: .913 and 50 Shutouts with three 40+ win season in a row.

Oh Nabby, what happened to you man? You used to be cool. Nabby had great regular season success but choked in the playoffs. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved the guy: I have his jersey, I have his autograph, and even got to meet him once. He seemed like a down to earth guy, but letting him go was a great move that, to fans, was far more of a sentimental loss than a strategic loss. Bottom line, people were just used to him. I remember going to games (especially ones we lost) during the beginning of the season and overhearing people complain as they walked back to their cars, “Nabby would have stopped that goal” or the same thing talking to people downtown in bars, “Getting rid of Nabby was dumb” but with little conversation it always lead to talking about the playoffs and I’ve never heard anyone defend his playoff performances and neither have I. I wish him the best on the Red Wings Islanders but I’m glad he’s gone.

Antti Niemi: 1 season on the Sharks, he’s been the starter for… a couple of months.
Career GAA: 2.35 Save %: .916 and 13 Shutouts

Yes, he’s been the official starter for only a couple of months. He had his chance to prove he’s starting goalie material when Niittymaki was injured and placed on IR and there’s no question he’s the starter. In the few months Niemi has been the starter, I never tense up every time another team has an odd man rush or open shot like I used to when Nabby was manning the net. I can’t even pinpoint what it is. Maybe it’s because he’s won a Stanley Cup, or maybe because he’s been playing like a god damn savage. Maybe it’s because he’s Finnish. Whatever it is, people seem to have either forgotten about Nabby or don’t care anymore because we have a better chance of winning. He’s been a brick wall ever since he took over and I think he’ll be a solid backstop for years to come.

Winner: Niemi (Plus “Nemo” is more fun of a nickname than “Nabby”)

Douglas Murray: Looks like Chucky.
Douglas Murray is a huge badass, the “Crankshaft”, one of my favorite players on the team. Seriously though, he kinda looks like Chucky.

Douglas Murray looks like Chucky

Winner: Everyone

-Sean Moore

 

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About Sean Moore
Senior Editor, Photographer at Wrecked Reviews

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