The San Jose Sharks have one of the best rosters in the NHL…on paper. Unfortunately, their paper success hasn’t exactly translated to the ice in the first 15 games of this young season. They are 7-8-0, with 14 points, and fourth in the Pacific Division. Lucky for them, and their fans, they are only five points out of the first place spot in the division. Based on their play though they don’t deserve to be this close to first place. Let’s take a look at what the Sharks need to fix to be the team they are capable of being.
Goaltending: Through the first four games of the season Martin Jones was fantastic, but since then he has been atrocious. Jones was 4-0-0 with two shutouts and a .982 save percentage to start the season. Since then, Jones carries a .879 save percentage. No explanation is needed for why that needs to improve. Alex Stalock has not been good either, sporting a .894 save percentage on the season with 113 shots against. A team can’t win when their goalies are letting pucks in left and right. Goaltending was something that everyone was worried about coming into this season because both goalies had very little NHL experience. Hopefully, Jones is just having some growing pains as an NHL starter and will bounce back. There was a time in Montreal when Montreal Canadiens fans wanted Carey Price out of town. Look how that turned out.
Logan Couture's Health: What was thought to be an unfortunate event that would not derail the Sharks’ season has turned into a complete derailing. Originally, the Sharks depth appeared to be a strength at forward, but since Couture went down with his broken leg, depth is a major problem for the team. Any team that features Mike Brown on the fourth line is going to have a practically useless fourth line. Once Couture comes back from injury, they should be able to slide Chris Tierney back to the fourth line center position. Hopefully, with Melker Karlsson back in the lineup, they can also move Mike Brown to the press box where he belongs. The Sharks also need younger players like Barclay Goodrow and Matt Nieto to start taking steps forward, rather than staying stagnate or going backwards. If they can improve, then the Sharks depth would be solved.
Special Teams: The Sharks have the worst power play percentage in the league at 11.4 percent. Even teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets (20.7 percent) and the Buffalo Sabres (23.5 percent) have their power plays figured out. Even though Couture is out with his injury, the Sharks power play unit should still be able to find the net. It features Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns and Joel Ward on the first unit. What more talent is necessary to put the puck in the net when you are a man up? The Sharks look like they would need a sixth man on the ice to score on the power play because it has been atrocious. The penalty kill hasn’t been much better either. They are ranked 21st with a 77.1 percent penalty killing percentage. These both need to get better and with the talent the Sharks have, attention turns to the coaches. Not a good start for the new Sharks’ coaches and if this trend continues, then Peter DeBoer may not have this job after this season.
It’s still early on if you’re looking at the big picture, but so far this has been a very disappointing start for a Sharks team that has shifted back to a win-now mode. Hopefully, they get healthy and back on track to the incredible first four games they had.