To Thrash or Be Thrashed? How the NHL and the San Jose Sharks are Shaping Up
As discussed previously, ice hockey is not something that only interests Santa’s helpers and Canadians. The 2015-2016 season of the National Hockey League officially kicked off on October 7th and it’s looking to be a great one. The San Jose Sharks made some big changes during the offseason and will be looking to move straight back into post-season hockey after not making the playoffs this spring.
Of course, the season has barely started, but the standings are still interesting to analyze. In the Eastern Conference, the standings in the Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions look nearly identical to end of the regular season this spring. However, in the Western Conference, the standings (that are highly subject to change) are much different; the Arizona Coyotes and the Dallas Stars are off to a strong start compared to their weak performance last season. Furthermore, the Anaheim Ducks (one of the best teams in recent years) have only one W, and coach Bruce Boudreau is on the hot seat with talk of a replacement.
During the offseason, the San Jose Sharks made some major changes to their staff and bench. Finnish goaltender Antti Niemi left for the Stars, and the Sharks acquired Martin Jones as their new number one. Another notable acquisition was Joel Ward from the Washington Capitals, who has had a tremendous start to the season. After a lack of a captain in the 2014-2015 season with Marleau, Thornton, and Pavelski as alternates, Joe Pavelski has been named the new captain for the Sharks. The biggest news of the offseason was a new head coach; Peter DeBoer has taken over in the Tank.
The Sharks are currently third in the Pacific Division in the West. As seems to be the trend with the Sharks, they are once again thrashing teams, or being routed themselves. In the first four games of the season, the Sharks put away fourteen goals and allowed only two. However, they then allowed fourteen goals and scored only four in the next three. In the eighth game of the season, San Jose emphatically shut down the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 (Joel Ward with a hat trick), and are making strides towards a great rest of the season.
Although it might not be your top priority, the Sharks, and the rest of the NHL, are worth paying attention to during any time off. Branson Senior, Alina Rainsford, is a Sharks fan who follows the team as closely as she can throughout the season. Regarding the changes made to the team and the upcoming season, Rainsford said: “I think naming Joe Pavelski as captain has really helped the Sharks. Pavelski brings veteran leadership and a calm presence that the team really needs. Having a new head coach, Pavelski also brings continuity to the team through his new leadership role. We’re off to a pretty good start this year, and I think some of the missing pieces from last year’s lineup have been filled.” Tune in to the radio or television and keep up with Bay Area hockey.