The San Jose Sharks finished April with a 5-9-1 record. It started with two wins against their rival Los Angeles Kings, which was on the back of ending March with two wins against the Minnesota Wild.
Any thoughts of a playoffs push were quickly thwarted though as the Sharks went on to lose eight straight in the middle of the month for their fifth-worst losing streak in franchise history.
Third Star: Josef Korenar
The Czech born Josef Korenar has made seven NHL appearances, all of them coming in the month of April. Most of them were in relief duty for Martin Jones, but three of them came in the form of starts. He wasn’t able to capitalize on the relatively easy matchup of the Anaheim Ducks in his first NHL start, but the Sharks didn’t really help him either with just one goal in support.
According to Evolving Hockey, Korenar has saved 2.22 goals below what is expected and 2.3 below average. These are not great numbers and even though the Sharks are not a great team, these numbers indicate he should be better. These may not be outstanding numbers, but the Sharks did win two games with him in the net so that counts for something.
The Sharks have to make a decision on Korenar by the end of the season as he is a restricted free agent. Giving him more games to see what he can do in a larger sample size would be prudent. He also had both of his starts against the Arizona Coyotes so some team diversity will be good. With three more games coming up against the Colorado Avalanche, Sharks management will see what he can do against one of the best teams in the league.
Second Star: Evander Kane
Evander Kane has been the most consistent Shark all season. His 11 points in 15 games trail only Tomas Hertl, but this isn’t the only month he has done this. Kane has the most points on the team with 42 in 50 games and he also has the highest point per game pace at .84. The 29-year-old has certainly been an effective points producer since the Sharks signed him to a seve- year, $7 million per year contract. His 20 goals in six straight seasons are a testament to his consistency.
His consistency is especially impressive considering the off-ice issues. Contemplating bankruptcy, it seems questionable whether he would even play this season. Not only has he played, but he is on pace for his higher 82-game point pace of 69. Most impressive for this feat is that he has had arguably the worst linemates of his career this season, though he has also had the most power-play time, as well as some of the most time on ice.
First Star: Tomas Hertl
After battling COVID-19 symptoms earlier in the season, Tomas Hertl regained his form and had a fantastic April. (Tomas Hert’s COVID-19 symptoms were bad. Having his wife, baby also test positive was worse, The Mercury News, 03/10/2021) In the 15 games he played, he had 12 points. This included two games where the Sharks were shut out. He has played a fair amount with Sharks’ leading scorer Evander Kane, but he also regularly gets assigned less-stellar linemates like Rudolfs Balcers, Patrick Marleau, and Alexander Barabanov.
Beyond just the points, Hertl is one of the best two-way forwards on the team. Opponents have the third-worst Corsi against while he is on the ice. On top of this, he has the highest individual expected goals per 60 minutes on the teams. Not bad for a guy who had to deal with a life-threatening virus affecting not only him, but his wife and infant child as well.
Who is Next?
The Sharks only have six games in May. I’d love to see Korenar establish himself as a legitimate NHL goaltender, or perhaps one of the many rookies the Sharks have debuted this season can gain a star, as Nikolai Kynzhov did back in January.
Victor Nuño is a physician in private practice in Santa Cruz and an associate professor of osteopathic manipulative medicine at Touro University in California. He is an avid hockey fan ever since the San Jose Sharks joined the NHL in 1991. He plays, watches, and consumes everything related to hockey, but especially the Sharks and AHL affiliate Barracuda. In addition, he is a father to two beautiful young girls and husband to a wonderful wife. Follow me @VictorNuno12