San Jose Sharks: Offense finding consistency with Karlsson and Kane

SAN JOSE, CA - OCTOBER 18: Evander Kane #9 of the San Jose Sharks in action against the Buffalo Sabres at SAP Center on October 18, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - OCTOBER 18: Evander Kane #9 of the San Jose Sharks in action against the Buffalo Sabres at SAP Center on October 18, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The San Jose Sharks are beginning to flash the full potency of their offensive threats after an underwhelming start to the season.

With two of the top offensive defensemen in the NHL since 2010, the San Jose Sharks appeared primed to start the campaign off strong. Hopes were high after addition of Erik Karlsson before training camp opened, giving coach Peter DeBoer options on how to best utilize him with current Shark Brent Burns.

So far, the power play experiment with the two players did not go as planned. San Jose began the man advantage 0-for-19 before breaking through in Philadelphia. At first, Burns and Karlsson were paired together with the hope their creativity would generate numerous scoring chances.

For Karlsson, he was still searching for chemistry with his new teammates and a new defensive partner in Marc-Edouard Vlasic. On the power play, both Burns and Karlsson could not get in sync, resulting in lackluster special teams play.

San Jose Sharks
San Jose Sharks /

San Jose Sharks

Burns and Karlsson can be viewed as quarterbacks on the power play. Both want to set up the play and execute from the blue line. With the two playing on the same unit, dictating the tone appeared hesitant as the two could not decide what move to make.

Adversity hit the Sharks early after Joe Thornton landed on the IR after two games. His surgically repaired knee became the focus as the veteran often plays through the pain. An infection to his knee though, has kept him out of the lineup, and his return is up in the air.

The focus shifted back to Burns and Karlsson as coach DeBoer made a move to split the pair up on the power play. As a result, consistent time in the offensive zone sparked more scoring opportunities with the man advantage instead of one-and-done shots to the net.

For now, separating the two has proven successful, but the likelihood of reuniting is probably imminent. Karlsson is getting comfortable in his new surroundings after spending teh first part of his career with the Ottawa Senators. As he begins to mesh with the Sharks after a few more games, San Jose’s true potential will start to become clear.

Signs of the two making progress came on Burns’ game-winner against the Nashville Predators. The two were on the ice together as the power play was set to expire and Karlsson set up Burns to deliver the tally on the man advantage. Burns’ score capped a three-goal rally in the third period that lifted the Sharks over the Predators.

Karlsson has yet to score a goal for the Sharks, but his play with the puck is one significant reason for the surge in offense. No matter whether he’s in the offensive of the defensive zone, Karlsson has shown no signs of panic, looking calm and collected when making passes or skating out of the zone.

Not only is Karlsson finding his groove, another addition to the Sharks last season is making an impact San Jose has desperately missed in past years.

Evander Kane is living up to the seven-year extension he signed during the offseason. Not only is he a goal scorer, but Kane also provides grit and is unafraid to get physical, seeming to revel in getting under the skin of opponents.

More from Golden Gate Sports

But his emotions have gotten the best of him early, dulling his impact in the early going. Against the Islanders, a careless tripping penalty by Kane resulted in New York converting on the man advantage.

Despite the shortfalls, Kane is consistently playing at a high level, knowing the opportunity of contending for a Stanley Cup is possible every year with the Sharks.

Proof of him backing up his physical style came at the end of the second period against Nashville. As the horn sounded, Kane body checked a Predators player into the boards, resulting in some pushing and shoving between the two teams before they headed to the locker rooms.

San Jose trailed 4-2 after two periods after a few unfortunate bounces went in favor of Nashville. Not only did Kane let a little frustration go into the hit, but he also set the tone for the third period as the Sharks would not back down.

As a result, Kane factored into the final frame, recording two assists on Joe Pavelski’s tying goal and Burns’ marker late in the game.

Doug Wilson emphasized how he wanted difference makers who could fit with the Sharks immediately, and for the future. Until Karlsson signs long term, Kane is fitting the bill and could be the missing piece that helps this club finally go the distance.

Next. San Jose Sharks: Early Adversity with Thornton on IR. dark

Almost ten games into the 2018-19 season and the Sharks are beginning to live up to the expectations after making a big splash in the offseason. Contributions are coming from all four lines, and the team is just scratching the surface of their capabilities.