Defense was the major component that GM Doug Wilson attempted to improve this offseason. He brought in superstar Brent Burns, and signed free-agent deals with veterans Colin White and Jim Vandermeer. Add this to Dan Boyle, Douglas Murray and Marc-Eduouard Vlasic, and on paper, this is one of the best defensive lineups in the league.
Well, the Sharks have definitely been average on defense, and have not really shown much improvement over last season. Miscommunication and mishandling the puck have led to goals for their opponents.
Against the Blues on October 15, a turnover in his own end by Sharks' defenseman Jason Demers led to a breakaway goal for St. Louis. Later in that game, the newly acquired Burns misplayed a three-on-two that led to a wide open score late in the third period, which turned out to be the decisive goal.
In the third period against the Devils, White and Demers were going back defending a two-on-two. As they entered the zone, White and his man, David Clarkson, made contact. White fell down, perhaps attempting to draw a penalty. Demers, oblivious to the fact that White's man was unguarded, pursued his man into the corner. This resulted in a pass to a wide-open David Clarkson in front of the net, and an easy go-ahead goal for the Devils. (See above video.)
One last example: against the Boston Bruins on Saturday, a loose puck sprang free to Bruin forward Tyler Seguin outside the Sharks' zone. Inexplicably, Dan Boyle and Douglas Murray, the last two defensemen back for the Sharks, both went for the puck. These two guys have been playing with each other for more than two years; and they should know each others' tendencies and movements by now. This led to a two-on-nothing, which led to goal.
Bottom line, the Sharks need to live up to their expectations, and they need to prove that Doug Wilson made the right moves this offseason.