So I just got back home after tonight's season opener, and let me tell you. The energy in HP Pavilion was amazing. The crowd was even louder than it was at the last game I went to at the Shark Tank (Game 4 of the WCF against Vancouver). My tickets were only $80 each to sit in the last row, but it was money well spent.
The Sharks did a lot of things extremely well. All four lines played great, fierce hockey. Andrew Desjardins had a career night. The top six (minus Havlat) looked good and forechecked really well. The new powerplay was solid. Burns and Boyle really do form a deadly combo on the points on the man advantage. Thomas Greiss played well enough to get the win and the goals he let in were not really his fault.
Of course, the Sharks can't escape this one without some criticism. I'll start with the areas the Sharks can improve in. First and foremost: Discipline. I thought we got rid of Heatley so we could avoid sloppy play. The penalties the Sharks took tonight against an essentially minor league opponent were bad. Too many holding the sticks. Seriously, a real team (LA or Anaheim) is going to capitalize on those chances. As always, the defensive play also could be better. While on the powerplay in the first period, Boyle and Burns gave up a 2 on 2 chance that gave Phoenix a pointblank shot. I think both of those defensemen provide great offensive skill to the backend, but should not be paired together during even strength, because they will give up way too many chances.
And now for the sad part. The biggest reason the Sharks need to improve is because the opponent they faced was a joke and can't be considered a real test. Phoenix looked terrible. Smith is not a starting goalie. Not even close. Yandle didn't make much of a defensive dent in his 31+ minutes of TOI. Michal Rozsival (needs no explanation). However, there were some positives for this collapsing team. The two bright spots were Shane Doan (as always) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson whose got great hands and a mean shot from the point. But honestly, it's time for Quebec Nordiques round two. Phoenix is not meant to stay in the NHL. They do not have anything close to a competitive team, and it was pretty depressing to watch the one they put on the ice tonight. Move, to Quebec, Winnipeg will move West and things will be right with the world.
Sorry for the rant, but nobody wants to see a team play like that, especially when the financial situation is just as depressing.
Back to the team that matters. The Sharks did show that their offense didn't take a hit with the losses of Heatley and Setoguchi. Pavelski looked right at home on the top line. And any team that puts up over 50 shots in its first game is clicking. I can't wait to see how the Sharks stack up against their first real opponent, the Anaheim Ducks.
A few notes:
*Thomas Greiss is a very capable 20 game-backup, but he is not a regular starter. Hopefully the goalie injuries don't become a problem.
*Brad Winchester looks good on the fourth line, which managed some nice plays.
*Michal Handzus proved why he is so valuable and had good PK chemistry with Torrey Mitchell.
*and this one is just for fun, but why is Brent Burns wearing number 88? I'm sorry, but that's just not a defenseman's number. Leave it for Patty Kane.Back to the San Jose Sharks Newsfeed