The Sharks handily defeated former bench-boss Ron Wilson and the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 Tuesday night, giving the Sharks a record-best 25-game start to an NHL season in history, tying the mark set by the 1943-44 Montreal Canadiens.
Their mark of 21-3-1 gives them a commanding 12-point lead over the Ducks in the Pacific, not to mention that the Sharks boast an NHL-best 43 points. This is good for a five-point lead over Eastern Conference top dogs New York Rangers, with three games still in hand.
It seems Todd McLellan and Danny Boyle were the final pieces of the puzzle necessary to bring these formerly 'sleeping giants' into the limelight and make them the early favorite to be hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup come June.
Some new blood behind the bench and another stud in Dan Boyle weren't the only keys to San Jose's recent success.
Along with the surefire producers like Thornton, certain people are making names for themselves while seemingly-dead veterans are rejuvenating their careers.
This seems to be a renaissance season for Patrick Marleau, playing alongside Joe Thornton and Devin Setoguchi, who is having his coming-out party this season with 13 goals, 16 assists, and a whopping +14 rating thus far.
These factors are helping Marleau make fans forget last year, when he sputtered out a modest 19 goals and 29 assists, with a terrible -19 rating, something very hard to do on a pretty dominant Sharks squad. Marleau looks to be back on his game and is currently on pace to set career highs in goals, assists, and points.
Another name that may have gone under your radar before this season is Joe Pavelski. The former seventh-round pick in 2003 is on pace to have a career year by leaps and bounds. Last year he managed 19 goals and 21 assists for a modest 40 points in 82 games. This year, he is currently sitting sixth on the Sharks scoring list with 11 goals and 11 assists.
Pavelski is seeing top-six forward ice-time in San Jose and isn't letting new coach Todd McLellan down.
Another guy rejuvenating his career before our very eyes is aging blue-liner, Rob Blake. After a couple disappointing seasons in his second stint in a Kings uniform, Blake looks better than ever. He is currently third in defenseman scoring behind teammate Dan Boyle and Nashville Predators' Shea Weber. Blake only managed 31 points last year and already has 21 points so far.
These Sharks sure do look mighty. When you have lesser-known guys like Pavelski and Setoguchi producing comparable numbers to studs like Big Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, then only good things can come of it.
If the Sharks keep up their dominance of the NHL, then they may finally shake the "underachiever" stigma and bring the Cup back to California this summer.
Some food for thought. Over and out.
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