Sharks

Sharks spotlight: Marc-Edouard Vlasic

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Sharks spotlight: Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Editor's note: Over the next month, CSNCalifornia.com Sharks Insider Kevin Kurz and Postgame Live reporter Brodie Brazil will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in numerical order.

Sharks spotlight -- the series

Sharks spotlight: Marc-Edouard VlasicAge: 25 D

In his sixth season in the NHL, all with the Sharks, defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic had four goals and 19 assists for 23 points and 40 penalty minutes in 82 games. He led the Sharks and was 12th in the league in blocked shots (171), and was second on the team in ice time (23:09 per game). He was scoreless with a -2 rating in five playoff games. He has one year remaining on his contract.

Kurz says: A former second round pick of the Sharks, Marc-Edouard Vlasic made huge strides in his game this season, and was the most consistent blueliner from start to finish. He routinely played against the oppositions top players, and although he wasnt quite as effective at the end of the season as he was through the first half, Vlasic could be a mainstay on the San Jose defense for years to come provided the club signs him before he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1 next summer.

Unfortunately for Vlasic, his own-goal early in Game 2 against St. Louis will be remembered as the turning point in the Sharks five-game defeat. As much as his game matured this season, it would have been nice to hear Vlasic, who is one of the more thoughtful and forthcoming players on the team, take a little bit more responsibility for that misplay after the game.
SLIDESHOW: Grading the Sharks
Brodie says: Vlasic has two very big things going for him. First, he is only 25 years old. And second, he already has 6 years of NHL experience under his belt. Put those together, and its very realistic that even after his best campaign, we have not even seen Vlasic at his best yet.

It may be most accurate to say Marc-Edouard was a quality defenseman in seasons prior, but this year, he became one of the teams elite. Midway through the schedule he was lined up with Dan Boyle; a pair that lasted until the final game.

Picture any opponent with a 2 on 1 odd man rush coming towards the Sharks end. Who is the 1 San Jose skater youd like to see defending? My choice would be Vlasic, and I think that is one of the best compliments you can give a blueliner.

Pickles plays a true and responsible defensive game; usually good with positioning, a good stick, and willing to block a shot. Additionally, kept both his penalty minutes (40) and giveaways (44) relatively low. He is a perfect contrast to an offensive minded partner that will likely always be paired with.

2012-13 expectations
Kurz says: Like Logan Couture yesterday, the expectations for Vlasic next season are obvious hell once again be counted on to be one of the teams top and most important players. As one of the more underrated defensemen in the NHL, Vlasic has the luxury of being able to fly under the radar and catch some of his more unfamiliar opponents by surprise.

Vlasics solid positioning and active stick in the defensive zone are the keys to his success, and with players like Dan Boyle and Brent Burns, racking up points isnt a priority for Vlasic. He can continue to concentrate on his defensive game, which should only get better.

RELATED: Vlasics stats splits game logs

Brodie says: Expectations are simple If Vlasic can bring a similar performance next year to what he did this season, the Sharks would benefit greatly. Any improvements on his part, would be a bonus.

Vlasics play was recognized with a bid to Team Canadas roster for the World Championships several weeks ago however Marc Edouard was sent home early from the tournament after suffering a knee injury. Although, the good news, it shouldnt be anything that prevents him from being 100 healthy into training camp.

On a personal level, Marc Edouard remains one of the best interviews on the Sharks. Even on the bench during games, he gives straightforward and honest assessments of whats going on, when times are good or bad. It is this clarity, which also likely helps him evaluate and adapt during the games as a player.
Up next: Tommy Wingels

There's one key difference between struggling Sharks, Canadiens

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AP

There's one key difference between struggling Sharks, Canadiens

The San Jose Sharks and Montreal Canadiens could not be more different in terms of tradition. But, on the ice this season, they couldn’t be more similar.

Both teams have placed their faith in a goalie that wears #31. The top defensemen on each team, Brent Burns and Shea Weber, are 32 and signed until 2025 and 2026, respectively. Tomas Hertl and Alex Galchenyuk are 2012 first round picks playing on the wing after being drafted as centers. Tomas Plekanec and Joe Thornton are favorites on the wrong side of 30, who may head elsewhere next summer.  Heck, both teams miss defenseman David Schlemko, who San Jose lost in the expansion draft and was eventually traded to Montreal, where he hasn’t yet played due to injury.

And both have struggled mightily so far. San Jose and Montreal have combined to win just two games, and sit 29th and 30th, respectively, in goals scored this season. It’s hard to imagine the Sharks and Canadiens scoring so little with all of that talent, but they can’t bank on good fortune, either.

Something’s got to give when the two face off at SAP Center tonight. After tonight, one team will feel much better about themselves, and the other team will be much closer to hitting the panic button.

That’s where the critical difference lies: Montreal’s already hit it, and San Jose probably won’t.

Last season, Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin fired Michel Therrien and replaced him with Claude Julien in February. Seven months after essentially siding with Therrien and trading star defenseman P.K. Subban, Bergevin ended Therrien’s time in Montreal, too. He surely can’t fire another coach, but a Galchenyuk trade is reportedly a possibility, according to TSN.

The Sharks, on the other hand, likely won’t do any of that. Even with the burden of high expectations in his tenure, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson’s never traded away a star player or fired a coach midseason. Even though Vegas pegs Peter DeBoer as the odds-on favorite to lose his job, it’s hard to envision Wilson making a change behind the bench during the year. He didn’t in 2015 when Todd McLellan seemed to lose the room, so why would he now?

Patience is what truly separates the Sharks and Canadiens, and that difference will likely determine how each front office reacts if their teams continue to struggle. Wilson’s shown a willingness to swing for the fences under these circumstances. He acquired Joe Thornton in 2005, after all.

But if you’re waiting on Wilson to take a page out of Bergevin’s book and fire the coach or trade away a key piece approaching their prime? Don’t hold your breath.

Process there even if results aren't for Sharks early in new season

Process there even if results aren't for Sharks early in new season

Saturday’s loss to the New York Islanders is one with which Sharks fans have become all too familiar.

The Sharks held a decided 41-23 edge on the shot count, but trailed 3-1 on the scoreboard. Since 2005, no team in the league has lost more games (59) in which they shot 35 or more times, and held their opponent to 25 or fewer shots.

No, your instincts haven’t deceived you over the Joe Thornton era: San Jose has lost a lot of games where they’ve otherwise outplayed their opponent. Of course, they’ve won plenty of those games too. More often than not, in fact, winning 72 of 131 times under those circumstances.

Frustration under those circumstances became readily apparent in the second period on Saturday, when Joe Pavelski broke his stick over Thomas Greiss’ net. The captain had plenty of reason to be unhappy, as his goalless drought to start the season has mirrored his team’s inability to finish at even strength.

So far this season, only Dallas and Montreal have scored on a lower percentage of their shots at even strength than San Jose, according to Natural Stat Trick. Both the Stars and Canadiens, unsurprisingly, are seventh in their respective divisions. The Sharks are sixth in the Pacific, thanks only to the still-winless Coyotes.

This early in the season, bad results can mask a strong process. They can’t finish, but the Sharks have been, statistically, one of the league’s best puck possession teams at even strength. That can happen over such a short stretch, but that’s easy to lose sight of when the team’s sitting in the division’s basement.

Right now, the Sharks just aren’t scoring enough at even strength, even as they’re playing well elsewhere. The power play’s begun to find an identity, particularly on the Kevin Labanc-led second unit. The penalty kill hasn’t allowed a goal since allowing three in the season opener, and have climbed all the way to 13th in the league.

If the Sharks continue to play this way, the goals, and wins, should come. They may not, of course, especially if Peter DeBoer struggles to find combinations that click for more than a game at a time. But eventually, the results should align with the process.

Saturday night was “one of those games” that have been surprisingly common in recent Sharks history, but it shouldn’t be chalked up as anything more than an amusing anomaly. Sometimes, one team is better, and still finds a way to lose.  

Sometimes, it truly is that simple.