After a strong start to the season the San Jose Sharks finally fall for the first time this season to the New York Islanders on the second night of a back to back and the injury bug starting to take hold. It’s time for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!
The final score aside this was not a completely awful, I thought the compete level was much better than the previous nights game against the New Jersey Devils where the team was frankly flat for long stretches. It is important to remember that this is a very good team in the Islanders with plenty of depth and talent throughout the line up and I can think of worse teams to lose too. The Sharks got goals from Joe Pavelski, Joel Ward and top prospect Nikolay Goldobin who scored his first NHL goal on a beautiful feed from Joe Thornton.
On the topic of good feeds I thought Matt Nieto also had a solid outing for the Sharks showing off some excellent patience before making a great pass for Joel Ward’s first goal as a San Jose Shark. I thought Dylan DeMelo also looked alright in his first NHL game on the third pair with Matt Tennyson.
Alex Stalock had a night to forget but what I think a lot of people are over reacting at his play in the game especially in comparison to starter Martin Jones. There is a significant contrast in styles between the two goalies. Stalock relies more on his athleticism and reflexes which can occasionally cause him to over play a puck being too aggressive and just look busier in goal. In Stalock’s defence I’d argue he handles the puck decently and he has always played this style which has served him well in the past. Jones is a much calmer goalie, he is very patient and waits for the puck to come to him.
The other problem is that Stalock had to play behind the pretty awful Branden Dillon and Brent Burns pair which only saw moderate effectiveness last year. If Paul Martin is going to be out for any significant amount of time I feel the Sharks should really look at breaking up the Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun pairing. The Martin injury in my opinion showed how thin we are for defencive depth. With the age of Martin upon signing him it also begs the question why didn’t Doug Wilson sign a NHL caliber 7th defenceman for these situations… well aside from cap space of course.
The Sharks have been suddenly ravaged by the injury bug in this young season, with Logan Couture, Paul Martin, Joonas Donskoi already injured Ben Smith took a puck to the ear last night and didn’t return. This is not mentioning the fact that Melker Karlsson who is currently assigned to the Barracuda is still not skating and could be definitely used right about now. If Smith is out for any period of time I hope the Sharks will call up Bryan Lerg or Micheal Haley to shore up the bottom six.
I think Tomas Hertl has done a much better job than expected as the second line centre but one place he is not living up to expectations is in the face off circle where he only won 33% of his draws, he won 58% against the Devils. The second line for the sharks usually draws pretty stiff competition and I am concerned about Hertl’s effectiveness against the true top centers in the league. Joe Thornton may have had one of his worst nights in the face off circle that I have seen in a long time only winning an uncharacteristic 29%.