The Sharks came up with a much-needed, high scoring victory over Tampa Bay. Antti Niemi played a good, but not spectacular game. But it didn't really matter. The Sharks were back to the team they're meant to be: a high scoring, playmaking, shooting, offensive-minded hockey club. Niemi's numbers are good so far this season (.917, 2.37 in 24 games played), but nowhere near league leaders Brian Elliot, Tim Thomas, Henrik Lundqvist, and the rejuvenated Nikolai Khabibulin. But what's more important is that the Sharks are near the top of the league in terms of scoring differential (+17).
A big reason for Wednesday night's blowout was that scoring came from all over. Ferriero, Desjardins, and Burns all put goals on the board. With Burns and Boyle not scoring the way most people had hoped during preseason and the top six still without a point-per-game player, it's really important that the Sharks distribute the shifts and the attack.
Right now the biggest question marks on offense remain Torrey Mitchell and the currently injured Martin Havlat. Mitchell sometimes shows flashes of star-caliber play, but other nights seems only to be a mediocre bottom six player. Havlat so far though has just not panned out as a star. The Sharks were hoping that a change of scenery would return him to point-per-game and all-star play, but with just 15 points and a horrendous 2 goals in 26 games that doesn't seem like it will happen.
This team needs more speed and scoring like that. Unfortunately, I think we have all seen that Havlat isn't playing like that and that Jumbo Joe and Marleau are slowing down. I think it's time the Sharks to start thinking about making a move to bring in some fresh speed. Kyle Turris has been traded, but was never a good option in the first place. I think one place to look for sure would be Edmonton. The Oilers are flooded with young talent: Hall, Eberle, RNH, and struggling young players like Magnus Paajarvi and Linus Omark. Edmonton needs a larger veteran presence, especially on the blue line. The Sharks should maybe look into moving guys like Marleau and Boyle for some young stars, because as good as Pavelski and Couture are, soon Marleau, Thornton, and Boyle will start to wear down.
Here's an example of the filthy goals Linus Omark has the potential to score:
And what is this?!! Probably one of the most creative shootout goals ever.
As of right now though, all is well with the Sharks. They are first in the Pacific and seem to be regaining confidence.
For the NHL on the whole, I think the biggest thing (other than the "who cares?" trade of hothead Kyle Turris) is 24/7. Henrik Lundqvist and Ilya Bryzgalov are dominating the show. And for those who haven't seen it yet, the best moments from Bryz from episode one:
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