The San Jose Sharks played their best game of the season in their 6-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night and passed a big early-season test.
The San Jose Sharks have surged to a four-game winning streak and are playing their best hockey of the season so far. And while it’s still early, it’s certainly encouraging to see the team playing like this after a rough initial start to the year.
San Jose stumbled out of the gate to a 4-10-1 record through 15 games leaving many to believe that this team was a hollow shell of last year’s squad that had fallen just short of reaching the Stanely Cup Finals.
However, the Sharks began to build some momentum with consecutive victories over the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild — two of the Central Division’s worst teams. It was a start, but they still needed to show that they could hang with some of the NHL’s toughest rosters.
It appears that they’ve proven just that and passed their first early-season test.
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The Sharks followed up those two victories with wins over the two-time defending Central Division champion Nashville Predators and the current Pacific Division-leading Edmonton Oilers.
And they did the latter in rather convincing fashion.
Within the first 22 minutes of the game, the Sharks had a 4-0 lead on one of the NHL’s best teams and they didn’t look back from there. San Jose played their most complete game of the season and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
So what’s changed with this team?
For starters, the team’s defense is looking much-improved from their early-season struggles. The Sharks surrendered just one goal to Nashville — the second-highest scoring team in the league — and did the same to the highest-scoring duo in the NHL.
The duo of Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid were mostly held in check — save for a second-period goal from the former. However, McDavid was held to just one shot on goal and that didn’t come until the third period.
The NHL’s best player was held pointless for only the sixth time this season while he was limited to just one shot on net for just the second time all year.
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The Sharks’ defense has stepped up their game which is making life easier for Martin Jones who did a pretty solid job against Edmonton after a stellar performance a few days earlier against Nashville.
Radim Simek‘s return has breathed new life into the Sharks’ defense and his pairing with Brent Burns is picking up where it left off last year. Burns himself scored the first goal of the night just a few minutes into the game.
But perhaps no players have stepped it up more than the trio of Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier, and Barclay Goodrow. The three have become the Sharks’ most effective line and they continued their dominant stretch on Tuesday.
Hertl tallied his fourth goal in as many games and he now has seven points over his last four contests. Meier managed a goal and an assist bringing his point total to an equal seven over his last four games — including a four-game assist streak.
Meanwhile, Goodrow recorded his first career “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” tallying a goal, an assist, and a fight — which he objectively won as well.
The Sharks are already a deep team thanks to a clean bill of health and it helps to have a line playing as well as they are right now.
San Jose is still sitting towards the bottom of the Pacific Division, but they’ve rejoined the pack that resides in the middle of the standings. And if they continue to play this well, they should only continue to rise through the ranks.
They’ll now take this four-game winning streak to the road when they face the Anaheim Ducks this Thursday night.