The San Jose Sharks (6-0-0) are now the last remaining team in the National Hockey League with the Blackhawks falling last night. This evening the Sharks will look to stay undefeated as they take on the Edmonton Oilers (4-2-0) for the second time this season.
In their first meeting San Jose scored all six of their goals in the first period and then decided to take their foot off the gas for the remainder of the game. They won 6-3 anyway but Edmonton was the better team in the latter two periods. Since then the Oilers have won 3 of their last 4 contests and have the second best power play in the league right behind the Sharks.
Nail Yakupov scored his first career NHL goal in that game against San Jose as well, and since then he has added 3 more tallies including this goal where he ends up tying the game late before his team beat the L.A. Kings in overtime.
My favorite part of that goal? It’s definitely the awesome celebration, no doubt. The guy can flat out play and as you can tell loves the game. I wish more guys had this kind of reaction, although I know it’s not for everyone ( i.e. Patty Marleau).
Yakupov now leads the team in goals with 4 while teammate and fellow number 1 overall draft pick Taylor Hall leads the team in assists (with 7) and points at 8. Also notable are forwards Sam Gagner and Jordan Eberle who have 7 and 6 points on the season, respectively.
San Jose has been taking care of business themselves although last game would have been lucky to get out of that game with one point, let alone two. Last game Anaheim seemed to figure out the formula to beating San Jose as well by staying out of the penalty box. The Sharks’ power play was held to just two opportunites and could not capitalize on either of those chances.
It was pretty evident that without the power play San Jose struggled to generate much offense and early on this season may be relying too heavliy on it.
Over on Fear the Fin they do a great job of charting corsi ratings (an advanced metric for hockey that charts how often shots were directed at their own net vs their opponents’ net while on the ice) on a game-by-game basis and if you look at the numbers from last game against the Anaheim in which they won 3-2 San Jose was not very good on even strength, besides the second line. Even guys like Joe Thornton (-6) and Brad Stuart (-8), who are supposed to be great defensively, were dominated all game. The Sharks were equally bad in their 4-1 victory against the Canucks, so this hasn’t been a 1-game thing.
Basically, I want to see the Sharks try to improve their 5 on 5 play. Much like in basketball when you ‘live by the three, die by the three’, you can live and die by special teams in hockey. Except in order to do that you need a top tier power play AND penalty kill, something that the Sharks are far from possessing. Besides, most of the game is played on even strength so you obviously want to be at the top of your game as a team in that department.