Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Quarter Pole Report : State of the Sharks

I think I did this last season. Some friends of mine also like to put out a report on their respective teams, now that the season is a quarter over. Here goes.

Goaltending: 8
The Sharks have arguably the best goalie tandem in hockey with Toskala (10-2) and Nabokov (5-5). Just for the record, all of Nabokov's losses came against probable playoff teams (Minnesota, Rangers, Anaheim, Edmonton, and Detroit). I only gave an 8 because while having two netminders is a strength now, the longer we get into the season the bigger a liability it will become. Especially if their respective records have a similar disparity. Tosk will want the #1, and Nabby is making #1 money with a no-trade clause.

Defense: 7
Clearly the Sharks' biggest weakness. The 6th spot is still up in the air, with Gorges, Davison, and Murray all rotating in and out. Nobody has played well enough to lock it up. Hannen is a rock, Matt Carle is a stud, and McLaren hip-checks like a freight train. Trading one of the goaltenders for a solid defenseman (Jovo and Boynton have been rumored) could possible kill two birds with one stone. You know who I really miss? Tom Preissing.

Forwards: 8
Joe is being Joe, but the Marleau-Bernier-Michalek line is the best on the Sharks right now. Cheech is hurt, and Bell, once thought to be the answer to the "Nils Ekman issue", has been relegated to 3rd or 4th like duty. Michalek has been playing on the top line a bit, along with Mike Grier. The third and fourth lines have been doing their job well, with being pests, keeping the puck deep, and creating a decent chance now and again, but the top line needs to be more stable and scoring in order for the Sharks to get a 9 here.

Special Teams: 10
Clearly, the best special teams units the Sharks have ever had. The Sharks are currently #1 in the NHL in PP, #7 in PK. Curtis Brown and Mike Grier have shored up the PK, and putting Marleau and Carle at the points with Joe, Michalek and Cheech on the PP is a deadly combination of skating and shooting skill. Now that Joe is shooting more than last season, the opposing D have a Hobson's choice.

Coaching: 8
There wasn't much pressure up until now with the Ducks the clear favorites to take the Pacific in the pre-season polls, and the fact that they didn't lose a game until last week. But ESPN has San Jose at #1 in the power rankings, and they are no longer a secret. This will raise expectations, and the Sharks will become of of those teams that other teams get up for, like the Wings. As long as Toskala and Nabokov aren't sniping at each other in the press, the coaches are doing a good job.

First quarter Stud: Patrick Marleau - the captain should be on the All-Star team.
First quarter Dud: Mark Bell - I'm willing to be patient, since he got the DUI and everything. But he seems to skate and shoot like a Zamboni. I have no idea how he scored 25 goals like that... there's something missing here. He needs to find it- quick.
Biggest Surprise - Dallas. They lost Arnott and stripped Modano of the captaincy. I was sure that would sow seeds of discontent, but they are still only two points behind.
Biggest Disappointment - Ottawa. How they are under .500 with a lineup like that is putting on a clinic of underachieving.

Comments welcome.

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