San Jose Sharks: Radim Simek’s impact continues to be felt

The San Jose Sharks have been enjoying the return of defenseman Radim Simek as the left-handed defenseman’s presence continues to be felt.

The San Jose Sharks endured a pretty difficult month of December winning just two games at the time of writing with a chance for a third victory to close out the year against the lowly Detroit Red Wings.

And during that vast stretch of losing, there wasn’t much to remain optimistic about.

The offense had imploded, the goalie duo of Martin Jones and Aaron Dell remained a mess, and the team’s defense continued to underperform. And in the process, the team lost a lot more than they won.

But seemingly out of nowhere, the Sharks managed to put together their most complete game in weeks defeating the Philadelphia Flyers by a final score of 6-1 on Saturday night.

The star of the night was undoubtedly Timo Meier who broke out with his first career NHL hat trick while the rookie duo of Mario Ferraro and Joel Kellman each scored their first career goals.

But hidden amongst those signature performances has been the return of defenseman Radim Simek who continues to make his presence felt.

It’s become a thing of urban legend at this point, but it’s truly remarkable how much better the Sharks have fared with Simek in the lineup.

Over the last two seasons, the Sharks are an incredible 41-13-5 with Simek in the lineup and just 17-26-6 without him. And even in the middle of what has been a difficult season for San Jose, the team is still 12-4-2 with him in the lineup.

Without him, the Sharks are just 5-16-1.

And in his two games since returning from a knee procedure that cost him seven games, Simek has continued his excellence.

The 27-year-old defenseman assisted on Joe Thornton‘s first goal of the season in Friday’s overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings and he set up the aforementioned Kellman on his breakaway goal on Saturday.

His physical play has been a welcome addition to the Sharks lineup and the pairing with Ferraro is clearly working wonders. After being paired with Brent Burns for much of last season and finding great success, the duo simply couldn’t find the same chemistry earlier in the year.

That said, Simek’s return has still helped out Burns.

With Simek out of the lineup, both Burns and Erik Karlsson were forced to play nearly 26 minutes of ice time per game. But a healthy Simek helps alleviate the need for the Sharks’ top defensemen to play as many minutes thus keeping them fresher and more effective.

That, in turn, is a large cause of his overall postitve impact.

The Sharks still have a long way to go before they could climb out of the Pacific Division’s basement, but just having Radim Simek in the lineup clearly gives them an edge.

And with him back in the fold, there’s no telling where the Sharks could end up a couple of months down the line.

Next: San Jose Sharks: All-Decade Team for the 2010s

Provided the oft-injured blue-liner stays healthy, of course.

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