San Jose Sharks What to Watch For: Looking to Put On a Show At MSG

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 23: Brent Burns #88 of the San Jose Sharks skates against J.T. Miller #10 of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on October 23, 2017 in New York City. The San Jose Sharks won 4-1. (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 23: Brent Burns #88 of the San Jose Sharks skates against J.T. Miller #10 of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on October 23, 2017 in New York City. The San Jose Sharks won 4-1. (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The San Jose Sharks head to the Big Apple for the second time this week to take on the New York Rangers. The Blueshirts are looking for their first win of the season on Thursday night against a scorching Team Teal.

The San Jose Sharks are coming off an impressive win Tuesday night in Philadelphia. The Sharks absolutely annihilated the Flyers on their home ice, tallying 8 goals through 3 periods. The San Jose Sharks put together an offensive clinic at the Wells Fargo Center with 5 players compiling multiple points. Young winger Kevin Labanc amassed 4 assists with 3 of them being primary.

Sharks back-up netminder Aaron Dell played well in his first appearance of the 2018 – 2019 campaign. He collected 31 saves on 33 shots. 14 of those being considered highly dangerous scoring opportunities.

Dell shut down a Flyers team that possesses some all-star caliber talent.  Along with starter Martin Jones the Sharks have arguably one of the best goalie duos in the league. It is a luxury that many other NHL teams are envious of.

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The San Jose Sharks are looking to have better luck this time around in the city that never sleeps. All signs during morning skate indicate that the Sharks are heading into Thursday night with the same line up as the previous game. The Athletics Kevin Kurz was at morning skate at MSG and notes that the line configurations appear to be same.

The coaching staff seems to be going by that old philosophy of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” It also appears that they are even going with goalie Aaron Dell again considering he was on the first on the ice, noted by the Mercury News’ own Paul Gackle.

The Sharks are heading into Thursday night with tons of momentum after blitzing the Flyers. Look for San Jose to stay hot against a New York Rangers team desperate for a win. Here are a few things to look out for during tonight’s game at the Garden.

The Fin(n)s are alright.

Head Coach Peter DeBoer shook up the lines last game in order to generate some offense. He placed Evander Kane on the top line with Joe Pavelski and Kevin Labanc but left the Finns together on the 3rd, with Sorenson on their left side. This line was spectacular, even though they weren’t able to generate a goal they peppered the Flyers netminder Brian Elliott with shots.

Joonas Donskoi and Antti Suomela rank 7th and 8th respectively at shots for created at 5v5. It’s a treat to watch these two continue to formulate their chemistry with one another. Their line continues to create consistent offensive zone pressure even with Kane being moved up to the 1st line.

Neither of these two young skaters have scored a goal this season, but it seems to be just a matter of time until they get on the scoreboard. Look for them to continue to create scoring opportunities from the third line.

Can the Defense Continue to Solidify Their Team Play?

The new San Jose Sharks defensive pairing configurations are only entering their 5th game of season. Team Teal continues to get more consistent play overall. They place in the top 5 in most of the possession stats tracked by naturalstattrack. But there is one statistical category that the Sharks have been struggling with.

The San Jose Sharks have done a decent job suppressing shots and have only given up 13 goals so far this season. But a lot of those goals have come off very good looks generated by the opposing teams offense. A total of 9 of those points have come off of scoring opportunities that are considered highly dangerous. This means that a lot of shots are coming in unobstructed, off rebounds, or from right in front of the crease.

Hopefully the Sharks can button it down in their own zone by giving opposing players less room to operate and get into their shooting lanes.

Can Kane Perpetuate His Elite Play?

Evander Kane has been the Sharks most consistent skater through the first four games of the season. He is on an 82 goal pace, while shooting at 19% clip. Kane produces in all situations, whether it’s down the line up or on the first line with captain Joe Pavelski. His shot is elite and his straight line speed, strength, and vision are really impressing Sharks fans and other hockey enthusiasts around the league.

We shouldn’t realistically expect Kane to score 82 goals, but he will more than likely continue his dominance in the offensive zone. He is excellent at winning puck battles with his size and strength, creating rush attempts with his skate speed, and producing rebounds with his powerful shot. All of these factors are part of the recipe for becoming an elite player in this league.

Expect the Sharks to come out on fire again this game, considering all the momentum they built at the Wells Fargo Center against the Flyers on Tuesday.

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Puck drop is at 4:00 PM Pacific time. Catch the game on NBCSNCA, and streaming live on 98.5 KFOX via the Sharks app.