The San Jose Sharks injuries started piling up before the season even began. Raffi Torres underwent ACL surgery and hasn’t played a regular season game yet. Martin Havlat hasn’t played a game this year either. Adam Burish was forced to undergo a procedure that will hopefully fix an issue with a disc in his spine. He hasn’t played in 2013-14 yet.
Dan Boyle was knocked out and stretchered off the ice after a hit from behind by Maxim Lapierre, and Brent Burns took enough damage to his mouth to force him out of action for a few nights.
Usually a team losing 3,130 games worth of NHL experience to open a season wouldn’t be considered an OK thing. Usually an IR list like that forces a team into damage-control mode, hoping to just stay afloat until reinforcements begin to arrive with some good health.
The Sharks are anything but usual this season, and have proven it by not only playing through these losses, but thriving in light of them. If you listen to the opposition’s announcers (for fun) during a pregame prior to taking on San Jose right now, they’ll ramble on about how deep the team is. How they can beat you with their first line or fourth line and are getting goals from throughout the lineup.
They’re not wrong, but they also aren’t considering how dangerous this team could be a few months from now. San Jose is the only remaining squad without a regulation loss, yet they have one of the more extensive IR lists around. For comparable reserves, you’d need to look at those of the Philadelphia Flyers or New York Rangers.
That should give you an idea of how truly special this start has been for the Sharks. Every time a player has gone down with injury, someone has stepped up and elevated their play to a new level.
No Havlat or Burish? No problem. Tomas Hertl and Matthew Nieto stepped in and not only have been phenomenal, but will give the
team some tough choices to make once the veteran forwards are ready to return.
Boyle going down would have caused waves of panic in years gone by. Yet with Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Scott Hannan pitching in offensively, the loss doesn’t seem so bad.
The injuries were piling up so badly that it forced general manager Doug Wilson to go out and acquire Mike Brown for an extra hand on deck. Right now the feeling around the club though is that it won’t ever lose. Obviously they will. The season is long. But it won’t be because of injuries and a shaken lineup.
More so than any season in recent memory, this Sharks team has the depth and poise needed to make a run at the Stanley Cup. Once the full contingent is out on the ice and everyone is playing where they should be, there won’t be a deeper team in the NHL. Not that there is right now anyway.