Sharks’ shaky NHL start no need for concern

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It’s too early to say the sky is falling for the San Jose Sharks.

This is why the NHL is an 82-game season. There’s plenty of time for teams struggling out of the gate to rebound and get things going. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say things are just a tad concerning to this early slump the Sharks appear to be on.

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To be fair, San Jose has played two teams in three games; the Sharks have been outscored 12-3 in those losses to the Vegas Golden Knights (twice) and Anaheim Ducks. San Jose played the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, signaling tough times may still be to come.

An early drop-off was expected for the Sharks. Any time you invest so much in certain players and have to give up valuable assets in the process, you’re going to go through a rough patch.

The Sharks are going all-in on a defensive triad of Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic for the foreseeable future and hope that the likes of Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc can elevate their game to the upper echelon that is expected of them.

Early on, however, San Jose is seeing how much of an impact losing Joe Pavelski is. Their former captain, now on the Dallas Stars, was more than just an inspirational loss in the locker room. His absence negates the impact he has in front of the net and as a solid offensive weapon. It’s also 38 goals from last season out the window that the Sharks didn’t necessarily upgrade promptly.

Losing Joonas Donskoi and Gustav Nyquist also chopped their bottom six like a minced onion. Donskoi has two goals in two games with the Colorado Avalanche, and Nyquist has one with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The fact two of your bottom six guys have the same amount of goals as you as a team through three games is a really telling stat.

But again, that’s why there’s 82 games. The Sharks are still going to be one of those teams contending for a playoff spot at some point. Logan Couture will rally the troops at some point and get through this funk. There’s a reason why the Sharks haven’t started 0-3 in 25 years (1993-94). They’ve been a model of consistency in the NHL. There’s still enough talent on that roster to get it together.

Early returns, however, show there is a large gap in competitive banter in the Pacific Division. The Golden Knights look like the cream of the crop already, and then there’s the rest with the Sharks grouped up in some conglomerate of the other seven teams. Not only did Vegas defeat the Sharks in both games to start the season; the Golden Knights dominated for 120 minutes and nearly shut them out at SAP ­Center.

For now, the Sharks are in limbo. The regression is real. There’s still time to get it together. It’s up to the big-money boys to start playing better.

Here’s our weekly picks after a solid start to the season:

Thursday

Red Wings at Canadiens: A battle of two sneaky Eastern Conference teams that could challenge for playoff spots, but I like Montreal at home. A motivated Carey Price is always a sure bet. CANADIENS

Friday

Ducks at Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets are off to a rocky start out of the gate as expected, but against a young Ducks team, this could be a chance to get Columbus going. BLUE JACKETS

Saturday

Panthers at Islanders: Both teams are on the second string of a back-to-back, but Florida will do less traveling going from Buffalo to Nassau Coliseum. I could see the Panthers resting Sergei Bobrovsky on Friday and playing him Saturday, so the better goaltender prevails. PANTHERS

Last week: 2-1

Season: 2-1

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About the Author
Danny Webster

Danny Webster

Danny Webster is an NHL columnist at Gaming Today. He is a graduate of UNLV whose work also appears on NHL.com, Vegas Hockey Now, and SB Nation.

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