The San Jose Sharks have been impressive through their first two games of the 2013-14 NHL season, and are one of only six undefeated teams remaining after the first week of action. You’ll have to forgive the team for not taking too much stock in the hot start though, as they began the 2012-13 campaign in a very similar fashion.
San Jose didn’t lose a game through the entire first month last year, winning seven straight and taking all 14 possible points from those contests. They fell off badly afterwards though, as the offense dried up and they struggled to find other ways to win. San Jose went 2-6-4 in February and sank down the standings as the losses piled up, more or less wiping out the outstanding start.
Another season, and another chance to stay consistent for the Sharks.
They thoroughly handled the Vancouver Canucks in the home opener, and downed the Phoenix Coyotes in a similar fashion. How long can the winning streak last though?
The upcoming week isn’t a cakewalk for the Sharks, but the games are there for the taking. On October 8 the New York Rangers will be in town, and they may or may not be tired after facing the Los Angeles Kings the night before. This is a very winnable contest for San Jose because of the rest factor, especially if it comes out flying like it did against Phoenix.
After that, the Sharks take to the road for the first time, playing Vancouver for the second time in as many weeks. The Canucks have played some strong hockey since getting trounced by San Jose, and will be a tougher out this time around. Still, this is a team that the boys in teal have managed to defeat 10 times in a row. Making it 11 isn’t outside the realm of possibility.
They’ll take on the Ottawa Senators next, and then will face their toughest test of the young season in the St. Louis Blues on October 15. Circle that date on your calendar, as it could be a Western Conference Final preview.
If the Sharks manage to take all of these games, it will put them at 6-0—just one win off of the start they had in 2013. While there are really no such thing as easy contests in the NHL these days, some games will be tougher to win than others. The schedule makers did San Jose a favor early on by giving the squad plenty of time to rest between contests.
They don’t have their first back-to-back until the end of October, when they’ll play the Senators and the Montreal Canadiens on October 26 and 27. That means that the Sharks play 12 consecutive games with at least one day in between. For a team that is looking to get a few healthy forwards back in the lineup, this is vital.
That’s a look at the upcoming games, but what about the level of play? Can the Sharks continue to fire on all cylinders like this?
The biggest difference between the start this season and last season is that the depth guys are getting it done for San Jose. It seemed like Patrick Marleau was scoring two goals a game for the first few weeks last year, and the team rode that hot streak to several victories.
Through two games of action, eleven different players have posted points for San Jose. That’s a massive boost to any team that’s looking to stay hot—Consider that Marc-Edouard Vlasic is currently the team’s leading scorer right now with three points. The Sharks have scored eight goals this season, and six of them have come from different players. Marleau and rookie sensation Tomas Hertl both have a pair of markers, but the rest have come from up and down the lineup.
When guys like Justin Braun are posting timely goals, you know the offense is rolling.
Among the players that haven’t put the puck in the net yet include Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle, Tyler Kennedy and Joe Pavelski. That should scare San Jose’s next few opponents, because those guys aren’t going to be kept off of the score board for long.
Considering how rock solid the offensive depth has been for the Sharks—and how excellent Antti Niemi has been—it’s conceivable that the Sharks could be one of the last remaining undefeated teams. It’s likely that the Colorado Avalanche and Toronto Maple Leafs will drop games before San Jose, possibly leaving only three other teams in the undefeated club.
The Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins. Pretty outstanding company, no?