A win on Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings would have been a confidence booster for the San Jose Sharks. Although the Sharks have one of the leagues best records, they have struggled at the Staples Center, only winning one game in their last twelve visits. The Sharks did put out a strong effort, but in the end their mistakes cost them a win. They committed six minor penalties, including two too-many-men-on-the-ice infractions, with the last one allowing the Kings to tie the game late in the third. The Sharks had fewer power play opportunities, shots, hits, and faceoffs won than the Kings did, and yet it took an overtime power play goal on the road to defeat them. In fact, despite the negatives from the game, there are some positives to take away from it as well.
For starters, Martin Havlat returned to the lineup and registered a plus-1, with two hits, and showed that he may actually be healthy for the first time since joining the Sharks. He didn’t show a ton of offense creativity, but that will come with more ice time. If he starts playing up to his talent level, the Sharks would have the ability to insert a legitimate scoring threat into the fourth line. Not many teams in the league have this luxury and it would do wonders to spread out their offense even more than it already is.
Another great sign from the game was the Sharks quick start. They scored thirteen seconds in and played fast the entire game against a stingy Kings’ defense. They were playing without Dan Boyle, Brent Burns, Matt Nieto, and Rafi Torres, and yet despite the mental miscues, played a strong game. Last year even with a full roster, the Sharks had a huge problem getting pucks past Jonathan Quick, but on Wednesday this wasn’t the case. It didn’t matter that they were injured, committed bone headed penalties, and hit posts; they kept their foot on the gas pedal and continued to attack. If the Sharks can play this way with inexperienced youth on their roster, once they get back Burns, Boyle and Torres, they could play even better.
Tonight the Sharks will have a chance to prove just that, with the return of Boyle and Nieto to the lineup. As impressive as the Sharks have been this year, their opponent, the Phoenix Coyotes, are right on their heels. The Coyotes come to San Jose with 20 points, and a win against the Sharks in regulation would put them in a tie with 22 points. The Sharks beat the Coyotes 4 to 1 on October 5th and will look to put more distance between themselves and the Coyotes with a win tonight. Expect a tough battle though, with the Coyotes riding a three game winning streak and attempting to extend it to a season long four games.