Top 5 takeaways from Sharks' 1-2 homestand
Top 5 takeaways
The Sharks returned from a tough East Coast road trip to their first homestand of the season, dropping two of three games at SAP Center. They sit in the middle of the Pacific Division with a 5-4-0 mark. Here are the five biggest takeaways from the past week…
1 – The Sharks need Paul Martin to stay healthy
The 34-year-old defenseman returned from a four-game absence on Saturday against Carolina, immediately re-stabilizing what had been a shaky defense while he was out. Although the Sharks lost on Wednesday to Nashville with Martin in the lineup, the club is 4-1-0 when he plays and has surrendered just eight goals in that span. He may be the most team’s most indispensible player this season.
2 – Special teams has been poor
Prior to Wednesday’s game against the Nashville, the Sharks had lost the special teams battle in five straight games. Although they finally kept the opposition off of the scoreboard on the penalty kill on Wednesday after five straight games allowing a power play goal against, they’ve now gone six straight without a power play goal of their own. As of Thursday morning, they are 26th in the NHL on the power play (11.1 percent), and 18th on the penalty kill (80.0 percent).
3 – The division is wide open
While the Sharks’ start to the season has been pretty mediocre, they’re fortunate in that no other Pacific Division team looks overly imposing. The Kings have won six straight, but have just a two-point lead over the Sharks for first place after 9 games each. The Flames and Ducks have been extreme disappointments, and none of the Oilers, Coyotes or Canucks is an elite club, either. There is time for the Sharks to work out some kinks under new coach Pete DeBoer.
4 – Depth scoring is missing
Now that the Sharks are nearly at full health they’ll need some more forwards to start producing. That includes the current third line of Tommy Wingels, Matt Nieto and Chris Tierney, who have a combined three goals – one from Wingels on Saturday, and one each from Tierney and Nieto into an empty net on Oct. 13 in Washington. All throughout training camp the Sharks and their coaching staff boasted of the team’s scoring depth, but it just hasn’t been there since Couture fractured his leg.
5 – Sharks taking advantage of AHL team
There have been six players so far that have played games for both the Sharks and AHL Barracuda, as the Sharks shuffle players to and from their nearby minor league affiliate. Although none of the call-ups has exactly lit the world on fire, it’s a nice luxury for the Sharks in that they can bring up different ingredients for different opponents, while also saving valuable salary cap space.