The San Jose Sharks entered this season as a Stanley Cup favorite and deservedly so. Over the past few years they’ve added some significant pieces in F Evander Kane and D Erik Karlsson. These additions plus the likes of Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Joe Thornton, Brent Burns created quite a buzz in the Bay Area. For most of the season, the team played fairly consistent earning them their fourth straight postseason appearance. The Sharks started off March with a bang, rattling off 6 straight wins. Then the wheels fell off the bus with 2 wins in the next 11 games (2-8-1), and therefore are the limping into the playoffs.
Sharks – The Good
This team has shown it is one of the most prolific offensive units in the league. They rank 3rd in goals per game at 3.5, and with a balanced scoring attack. Brent Burns is the leading scorer with 81 points, and Tomas Hertl is the leading forward with 72 points, good for 43rd in the NHL. The Sharks have 10 players with 35 or more points and 11 players with 10 or more goals.
Defensively the Sharks are pretty stacked with Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic as their top three defenseman. These three would be a number one d-man for any team in the NHL. The defense as a whole has let up 2277 shots against, which is 2nd best in the NHL. Their penalty kill is also one of the best in the league at 23.8 percent, good for 6th in the NHL.
Sharks – The Bad
One word…goaltending. The Sharks are sitting 2nd in the Pacific despite some pretty awful goaltending. The combination of Martin Jones and Aaron Dell has done little to inspire confidence. Combined, they have allowed 3.01 goals per game, 22nd in the NHL. The most concerning stat is .889 combined save percentage which is dead last in the NHL. Despite only seeing the 2nd least shots in the NHL, this tandem has been anything but consistent. Jones is the starter, and his play has been ugly during this recent stretch. In his last 8 games, he has one game above .900 (.912) and that was against the Kings, who are last in the Western Conference.
The silver lining is that all season this team has overcome the poor goaltending to put wins, and in the playoffs wins are all that matters. However as the playoffs progress you’ll need some big performances from your goalies as the competition stiffens. The Golden Knights will be San Jose’s first opponent and they are not exactly on a hot streak themselves, heading into postseason play at 4-4-2 in their last ten, but most of those games were played without starting G Marc-Andre Fleury. Sharks fans better hope Martin Jones can find his form, or San Jose is looking at an early exit this spring.