3 San Jose Sharks That Need to Get Hot Down the Home Stretch

MJ KasprzakSenior Writer IIApril 11, 2013

3 San Jose Sharks That Need to Get Hot Down the Home Stretch

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    In years past, the San Jose Sharks have looked like contenders at the NHL trade deadline and general manager Doug Wilson would add a player to take his team over the top.

    That never worked out, so this year he traded three active players—including one from the second line—for draft picks. That forced the team to look within what remained in the dressing room for added punch.

    Someone had to get hot and their increased production would have to take the place of player additions. Coach Todd McLellan moved Joe Pavelski down to center the third line, which gave the team the same boost it would have gotten from a new addition.

    Hence, the team climbed a few spots in the Western Conference standings and Wilson picked up a couple complementary pieces to help the Sharks make one more run at the Stanley Cup. The problem is that it is becoming evident they do not have enough.

    While he has played well, the Sharks have lost both games since Raffi Torres joined the team. Could this be because their chemistry was upset by the introduction of someone with a tainted past? Or is it simply two very common things—their long history of complacency and season history of struggling on the road—coming together in their last two games?

    Since they are in a tight playoff chase and they are so dominant at home, it is vital that the Sharks climb to at least the fourth seed. With five road games left and none of the tiebreakers, being the best non-division winner is going to take more than what this team has shown it is capable of on the road.

    It is going to take someone else stepping up. This must be a player not already performing well, but capable of filling roles at the top of the depth chart.

    Unless at least two of these under-performing Sharks step up and give them another boost, they are going to be out of the playoffs before Mother's Day.

Patrick Marleau

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    Patrick Marleau had nine goals in the first five games of the 2013 NHL season. The prospect of him missing 20 goals was ludicrous.

    Despite leading all San Jose Sharks forwards in ice time, he has just seven goals in the 34 games since. At that pace, he will finish with 18. If his peak and valley have evened out, his season-long pace is now 19.7 goals.

    The Sharks need their former captain and best goal scorer to show up big down the stretch.

    He has gone seven games without a goal and four without a point, but if he can score four or five goals and average a point a game down the stretch, he can help his team be one of three contenders in the Western Conference.

Martin Havlat

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    Martin Havlat has a tremendous amount of talent, as both a skater and with his stick. But he has absolutely no grit. He will not lay a hit or block a shot, and sometimes he skates as if his focus is elsewhere.

    It was this problem that had gotten him dropped from the scoring lines on a regular basis. He was recently performing quite well on Joe Thornton's top line, but then the new-car smell wore off and his flurry ended. He has now gone without a point in three straight and six of his last seven games.

    If the Sharks could get Havlat's best for the final nine games, it probably means three lines are clicking. They are going to need that kind of production depth down the stretch to set themselves up for a legitimate Stanley Cup run.

Brad Stuart

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    Brad Stuart was brought back to the San Jose Sharks to bolster the blue line and provide leadership. He has done that, logging a lot of ice time and being the team's best defender.

    But last season, Stuart had five goals and 16 assists. That was about a point every four games, or double the rate he is scoring at in 2013 (five assists in 39 games).

    If he can get a little hot on the offensive end—even simply doubling his point total—down the stretch, the Sharks have a chance to earn home ice in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

     

    MJ Kasprzak is the original community leader for the San Jose Sharks and Green Bay Packers on Bleacher Report. He is now a shareholder of the latter and covers the Sharks and Bay Area Christian issues professionally for Examiner.com.