The Best and Worst from San Jose Sharks' Preseason
With that in mind, here is a look at the best and the worst we've seen from the Sharks during this month's NHL preseason.
Feel free to comment on any of these selections or to mention any other items you feel are significant and belong on this list. As always, indicate why you feel your choice belongs.
Best: The Power Play
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The Sharks have looked strong on the power play so far in the preseason.
They scored at least one power play goal in both of the games in which they had at least one opportunity with the man advantage. They scored all three of their goals on the power play in their home win over Phoenix on September 21.
Overall, the Sharks are 4-for-13 with the man advantage, a 30.8 percent success rate. Jason Demers, Logan Couture, Freddie Hamilton and Tommy Wingels have the power-play goals while Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski have been setting up teammates with regularity. The team is getting production from many different players, which is a promising sign.
Obviously, the sample size is small, but the Sharks' power play looks efficient and dangerous, and that bodes well for the club as they enter the regular season.
Worst: Raffi Torres Injured
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Winger Raffi Torres suffered an injury in the preseason game with the Anaheim Ducks when he collided with Emerson Etem.
Torres injured his ACL and will be out a minimum of 4-6 weeks according to David Pollack of the San Jose Mercury News. That means the Sharks will be without their biggest pest until at least early November.
The loss of Torres is a tough one for the Sharks to take. They really don't have any player who can play the tough, gritty style that Torres does and contribute on any of the top three lines. With Torres in the lineup, opponents have to think a bit before they take liberties with any of San Jose's star players.
Brodie Brazil of CSN tweeted about the importance of having Torres in the lineup. Losing him will certainly be a blow to the Sharks in the early part of the season.
Best: Freddie Hamilton
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Winger Freddie Hamilton has been one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises of training camp this year.
Hamilton wasn't on anybody's radar before the season started. He was drafted by the Sharks in the fifth round of the 2010 NHL draft. When The Hockey News listed the Sharks' top 10 prospects in their annual Yearbook, Hamilton wasn't even mentioned.
His statistics last year didn't give any indication he was ready to jump to the NHL either. In 76 games, the Toronto native had a rather ordinary 13 goals and 26 points.
But in training camp, Hamilton has impressed coach Todd McLellan, according to Curtis Pashelka of the San Jose Mercury News. "He's playing like he wants to make the team," McLellan said. "The coaching staff feels comfortable with him, so things are going the right way."
Hamilton has played in two preseason games. He has one goal and five shots on goal. He played 17:25 in the game against Phoenix. Best of all, he looks like he belongs.
The injury to Raffi Torres may help Hamilton make the big club to start the season.
Worst: Penalty Killing
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The overall numbers have not been horrible, but the Sharks' penalty-killing unit has been inconsistent over the first three preseason games.
Actually, in the first two preseason games, San Jose killed off all eight short-handed situations and looked pretty good doing it.
But in the third game against the Coyotes, the Sharks allowed two power-play goals in four penalty kills, and the PK did not look strong.
Obviously, during preseason games, teams do not use their full rosters, and the penalty-killing units may not have their normal personnel, so that has to be taken into account when analyzing special teams.
After three games, the Sharks are 10-for-12 on the penalty kill, or 83.3 percent. But breakdowns like the game against Phoenix must be eliminated before the regular season gets under way.
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Antti Niemi is established as the starter after being a Vezina Trophy finalist last season.
In his one preseason game, Niemi looked sharp, making 29 saves on 32 shots in an overtime loss to Anaheim.
The two candidates for the backup job also played pretty well in their preseason debuts.
Alex Stalock didn't get much work in his debut against Vancouver. He only faced 16 shots all game and went several minutes at a clip without much action in the San Jose zone. He made 14 saves and earned the win in a game he was rarely tested in. The lack of action did seem to distract him a bit.
Harri Sateri played a stronger game against the Coyotes. He made 24 saves on 26 shots to earn a win and a .923 save percentage. Both goals Sateri allowed came on the power play.
In the first three games, the Sharks have allowed two, two and three goals and that came in overtime. The goaltending and overall team defense have been solid.