Is this the Sharks’ Year to Win?

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Is this the Sharks’ Year to Win?

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Creative Commons

Creative Commons

Danielle MacArt, Reporter

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It’s a beautiful day when hockey starts, and this past October, the official start of the National Hockey League’s 2014-2015 season, was no exception. Every fan was ready to see some awesome hockey, while every hockey team, including the San Jose Sharks, was geared to play their first couple of games with both new players and new lineups, all in the hopes of winning the ultimate prize at the end of the season, the Stanley Cup.

Towards the end of the last season, the Sharks lost players Dan Boyle, Marty Havlat, and Brad Stuart while also receiving the large presence of 6’ 8”, John Scott. Other changes included defensive-turned-offensive player Brent Burns being moved back to defense and players Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau being stripped of their captaincy, which gave every player a chance to vie for the position during their summer training camp. So far, however, the Sharks have only named four alternates to the position.

The question is, however, if these changes will help the Sharks make this season the one where they finally win the coveted Stanley Cup. After a heartbreaking loss to the Los Angeles Kings in the Conference Quarterfinals last playoff season, the Sharks were ready to show their fans during their first official season game that the past was behind them, and that they were completely ready to play. The team did just that when they embarrassed last season’s Stanley Cup winner, the Los Angeles Kings, at their own arena, defeating them 4-0.

The Sharks then went on to win the next three games, further strengthening their argument that they were ready to play for the win this season. After those strong first three games, however, the Sharks almost fell off the grid. While they have still won more games than they have lost, a recent four-game loss while on the road led to the question that maybe the Sharks still don’t have what it takes.

Great offensive players such as Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, and Joe Pavelski continually contribute to the Sharks’ goal scores. The problem is with the Sharks’ defense. While Antti Niemi and Alex Stalock make some great saves, there are times when goals are scored against the Sharks where the puck should have never gotten past the Sharks’ defense if they were doing their job.

Take, for example, the October 23 game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Sharks were ahead for most of the game, but ended up tied with the Blue Jackets with eight minutes and twenty seconds left in the third period. It seemed that the game would be going to overtime, until the Sharks’ defense made several mistakes, resulting in the Blue Jackets getting one past Niemi in the last 21 seconds of the game. The Sharks were not able to come back and they lost 5-4.

If how they have been playing so far–cruising along, winning and losing here or there–is any indication of how the rest of the season will go, I would not expect the best season from the Sharks. While they will most likely make it to the playoffs, like they always do even if their season is not the best, it is highly unlikely that this year will be the year that they win the Stanley Cup unless they step up their defense.

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