After reeling from four straight losses to open the 2019-20 season, the tide appears to have turned a bit for the San Jose Sharks. Since re-signing franchise cornerstone Patrick Marleau, the team leader in career games, goals, and points, after a brief two-year stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Sharks have found themselves on the winning end three games in a row, including two over the Calgary Flames and the Carolina Hurricanes in the last week. While momentum surely appears to be in San Jose’s favor at the moment, there are also some issues that have the potential to hold them back should they persist. Let’s take a dive into who’s hot and who’s not for the San Jose Sharks.
If there was a scorching category, Kane would find himself there after his first-period hat trick against Carolina Wednesday night. San Jose had three power play goals all season going into the Hurricanes matchup, and Kane scored two power play goals before the first period was even over! He also added an assist against Carolina on Tomas Hertl’s empty netter and found himself with four points, a plus-three rating, and three hits last week. The 6-foot-2 winger is third on the team with six points while sporting a plus-two rating. When it comes to Kane, team captain Logan Couture knows exactly what he brings to the table.
“Special moment for him,” Couture said. “He’s a goal scorer. That’s what he does. He goes to the net hard and he fills that role for us. When he’s hot, there’s not many guys that are as hot as him. We’re hoping that he rides that wave right now.”
To say that Jones has been instrumental to this brief winning streak would be an understatement. After a .854 save percentage (SV%) in his first three starts, the veteran netminder helped his team on their way to two big wins versus Calgary and Carolina, stopping 36 and 32 shots respectively for a .958 SV%. While Jones tends to be a boom-or-bust goalie, he has been all boom since the re-acquisition of Marleau.
The 2019-20 season didn’t start off all that great for Hertl, but he sure seemed to turn the page in the last week. After a dreadfully slow start with a minus-six rating and zero points through the first five games, Hertl came to life scoring five points with a plus-four rating in his next two, including a shorthanded goal and an assist against the Flames, and a one goal, two assist outing against the Hurricanes. The young center finished the 2017-18 season with 46 points and followed up with 74 points during the 2018-19 season. If he can keep contributing like he did this past week, those numbers should continue to grow.
Vlasic has found himself in quite the pickle thus far this season. The veteran defenseman has zero points and a minus-eight rating through seven games. In 20:42 of ice time per game this season, Vlasic has five giveaways, five shots-on-goal, and is third on the team with 188 shifts. That’s right, he’s on the ice a lot, and for every shot he takes on goal, he’s giving a puck away, as well. It’s not all negative for Vlasic — he has committed zero penalties this season. If you’re going to have a bunch of zeros on the stat sheet, that’s the best place to start!
While it’s hard to call someone who had an assist in each game last week not hot, when it comes to Erik Karlsson, the $14.5 million man, his four assists and minus-six rating leave a lot to be desired. He has also added eight blocks and four hits, but hasn’t seemed to fully recover from his offseason groin surgery and play to the level that is expected of him. He has done well quarterbacking the power play unit, including an 85.7% controlled zone entry success rate, but beyond that he has been less than inspiring compared to his price tag. His head coach Pete DeBoer, for what it’s worth, doesn’t seem to be worried about Karlsson’s game.
“It’s been a little inconsistent and he’s the first to admit that,” DeBoer said. “That’s tough when you’re laying around, recovering from surgery. You’re not on the ice, you’re not getting the reps, you’re not scrimmaging like the other guys are in summer. We expected a little bit of this. I’m not worried about him. He’s going to get his game in the right spot.”
At this point, if Radil’s name wasn’t on the roster, you might not even know he was playing. The 29-year-old forward has gone scoreless while averaging a little over 11:30 of ice time this season including no points, three hits, one blocked shot and one shot on goal against the Flames and Hurricanes last week. It has only been six games for Radil, and the winger scored 11 points in 36 games during the 2018-19 season, so there’s definitely some hope that he can turn it around, much like the Sharks have, and start to contribute.