In the NHL teams can go from the top of the league to the bottom of the standings in a matter of weeks. Given the nature of an abbreviated 48 game NHL season, the chance of a prolonged slump ruining your season is amplified. The San Jose Sharks had an amazing 7-0-0 start and star players Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were atop league scoring.
While no one expected Marleau to average 2 goals a game over the entire season, when the big line went silent no one was there to step up and the Sharks have gone 0-3-3 in their last 6 games.
The Sharks have struggled on the road going 2-2-1 this season and have their next 4 on the road including 2 against the league leading Chicago Blackhawks. It is time to shake up the lines and get the Sharks role players scoring.
Martin Havlat looked to have a solid start to the 2013 season over the first 5 games but has underwhelmed ever since often going unnoticed. Ryane Clowe has played the physical game well getting in on the forecheck and standing up to opponents, but with 0 goals and just 6 assists over 13 games more is needed from him especially in a contract year.
Aside from the 6-2 loss to Columbus I have liked the Sharks work ethic over the course of this winless streak. In the Sharks February 12th game against Nashville they showed great effort but ran into one of the top tier goalies in the NHL.
Unlike many teams that go 6 games without a win the Sharks are doing a lot of the little things right. New line combinations or a lucky bounce could be enough to allow the Sharks to snap the winless streak and regain some confidence.
The top line of Marleau-Pavelski-Thornton was dynamite to start the season but maybe it is time to switch things up. Logan Couture has played well enough over the last 2 years to get a good look on the Sharks top line. Couture is second to only Patrick Marleau on the Sharks in pure goal scoring ability and can line up on the wing on the top line. Couture has an amazing hockey sense and knows where to be on the ice to make good things happen.
The powerplay was the time the Sharks could do no wrong over their first few games. In their last 8 the Sharks have gone 2-34 with the man advantage and if my college level math is right that’s a success rate of just 5.88%
While unconventional the Sharks could use Scott Gomez on the second powerplay unit to try and give them a much needed spark. Gomez can cycle the puck and has above average play-making abilities when given the time and space. If Gomez was playing with some big wingers it would allow him the space and confidence to create some much needed offense on the man advantage.
The Sharks are too talented of a team for this lack of scoring to continue, but every game that it does the pressure increases and guys grip their sticks a little tighter. While San Jose’s big guns are quiet it’s time for their secondary scorers to start making some noise.
Creator of the Bettman Stand Up hockey blog. I cover the Chicago Blackhawks for The Hockey Writers, In Hossa we trust! I also write for publications such as Arbitrage Magazine and Elite Sports Blog. You can follow me on Twitter @RickEmrith