Tuesday, September 2, 2008

08-09 Preview: San Jose Sharks

You were expecting someone else to beat me to it? I'd actually love to hear from the other Chroniclers on the Sharks (that's what the comments section is for, I reckon), but for now:

The Sharks are at once predictable and unpredictable. Assuming that Joe Thornton and Evgeni Nabokov don't have a total meltdown, they'll still be awesome this coming season. It'll be mighty interesting to see how the change of head coach will affect their play, both in style and in results (victories, losses, how far they make it in the play-offs). I'm a big Ron Wilson fan, and I'm still in official denial about him going to coach the Maple Leafs (simply isn't happening; the real Ron Wilson is enjoying Pina Coladas on the beach at Hilton Head), but it does look like he was having an adverse effect on the play of captain Patrick Marleau.

I predict Marleau will have a good season; I'll even be so bold as to predict he plays on the first line as Jumbo Joe's left wing instead of centering the second line. That job will probably go to young American Joe Pavelski. I feel bad about not mentioning him in my NHL Guide post on the Sharks, but I admonish you now, readers: Pay attention to Joe Pavelski. He's not dissimilar to Erik Christensen in that he's awesome on the shoot-out and is capable of some truly stunning goals...but he's young and it's uncertain just how good he'll become. In the cases of both Christensen and Pavelski, I predict sheer excellence this season. I can't wait for Pavelski to play for the USA in 2010.

Another young Shark to watch is, of course, Ryan Clowe. The simple fact is that Clowe is a beast: he body-checks and he scores quite a lot of goals when he's healthy. If Clowe can stay healthy, the Sharks are going to have serious scoring depth.

Milan Michalek is only going to get better. He's a guaranteed 20 goal scorer, and depending on which line he's on I think he's capable of 30.

Jonathan Cheechoo is something of a wild card because his success depends on A) him staying healthy and uninjured (he played a substantial portion of last year with a broken thumb, which tells you all you need to know about his commitment) and B) whether or not he plays with Joe Thornton. I didn't understand it when Ron Wilson split JT and JC up for a few games last year; they clearly have great chemistry and Thornton elevates Cheechoo's game like whoa.

Mike Grier will continue to be Mike Grier, and I predict another stellar season for the Greatest Man on the Planet, a.k.a. Jeremy Roenick. I can't wait for JR to have another campaign of dramatic/goofy game-winning goals. Hopefully at the end of the season we'll see Patrick Marleau pass him the Cup.

The Sharks have lost their top defensive pairing by trading Craig Rivet to Buffalo and losing Brian Campbell to free agency (not that there was ever a strong chance he'd stay). But they do have Dan Boyle, who while no Brian Campbell is a fine puck-shooting defenseman, and most importantly, they have Rob Blake.

It's going to be extremely interesting to see where Rob Blake fits into things this year. The main reason, perhaps the ONLY reason, Blake is there now is to win the Stanley Cup. Rob has a few already, and I think Doug Wilson is banking on him leading the (totally Cup-less, I think) team all the way through the post-season.

The rest of the Sharks defensive corps is pretty strong, I think: Vlasic, Ehrhoff, Murray, and some other people. And they have the finest and most tireless defenseman in the League in goal.

I predict the Sharks do finally make it to the third round of the play-offs this year. There, they'll probably face either the Red Wings or the Stars. Whether or not they win and move on the Stanley Cup Finals really depends on their veterans. It's all up to Rob Blake and Jeremy Roenick.

As it happens, I think these might be the lines:


That, ladies and gentlemen, is depth.


Big Shooter said...

OK, I didn't point it out earlier because I'm making an effort to be a nicer person, BUT...

We are obviously having some trouble with the ONE PER DAY thing I was trying to do. You know, to take us to October!!

At this rate we will be through next week!!!

Mortimer Peacock said...

We'll just starting making up teams to fill the space.

I'm already thinking about my San Juan Cocks post.

FrenchCatalogues said...

I don't know. I think the news is going to start coming in. There are thirty teams and you know nobody really wants to write about the Stars. Par example stuff non-related to previews will be up with the next hour. Watch out!