5 Biggest Surprises of the San Jose Sharks' Season so Far

Eric HeContributor IIDecember 5, 2011

5 Biggest Surprises of the San Jose Sharks' Season so Far

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    Any sports team knows that a season rarely goes as planned. Injuries, slumps and other factors often alter the course of a team's regular season. This leads to surprises, whether good or bad.

    The San Jose Sharks' 2011-12 campaign is no different thus far. Although there has been no drastic change, there have been some noticeable and clear surprises.

    Read on as I highlight some of the biggest surprises of the San Jose Sharks' season. 

5. Colin White Is Not Producing

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    Colin White assisted on a goal against the Florida Panthers on Saturday night. 

    The significance? Through 15 games, that is the first point that White has registered as a San Jose Shark.

    He has a minus-four rating, and has literally done nothing to help the Sharks this season. Jim Vandermeer, another free-agent acquisition, has taken White's spot in the every day lineup.

    White is known for his defense and hard-nosed attitude. He has not shown that this season, as evidenced by his soft play on this goal.

4.The Sharks Are Tied for Third in Their Division, Lack of Consistency to Blame

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    In my Pacific Division preview, I ranked the divisions as follows:

    1) San Jose Sharks

    2) Los Angeles Kings

    3) Dallas Stars

    4) Anaheim Ducks

    5) Phoenix Coyotes

    Through December 4, the standings are:

    1) Dallas Stars - 31 points

    2) Los Angeles Kings - 30 points

    3) San Jose Sharks - 29 points

    4) Phoenix Coyotes - 29 points

    5) Anaheim Ducks - 19 points

    It is clear that the standings of teams one through four could change in a matter of a day, with the Ducks out of the picture at this point. There is no question that the Pacific Division is the toughest division in hockey, but I am surprised that the Dallas Stars are playing so well this far into the season. However, things could change with Kari Lehtonen injured. 

    The main surprise here is that the Sharks are not playing very consistent as of late, allowing other teams to move ahead of them in the division. 

3. Martin Havlat Has Not Lived Up to His Expectations

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    Through 19 games in his first season as a Shark, Martin Havlat has the grand total of one goal. Throw in 10 assists for a total of 11 points, and Doug Wilson might be questioning himself for making this trade. 

    Coach Todd McLellan has tried to mix things up, putting Havlat on the third line, but has finally settled on moving him up to the second line with Ryane Clowe and Logan Couture. 

    The Sharks gave up sniper Dany Heatley to get Havlat, and it will be disappointing if Havlat does not fill the big shadow left by Heatley. 

2. Dan Boyle Is Really Struggling

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    As I stated in a previous article, Dan Boyle is on a big slump, and he needs to get back on track. He has just one goal and nine assists in 22 games this season, and has made several bonehead plays on offense and defense, including eight giveaways.

    Along with Brent Burns, Boyle was supposed to provide offense from the defensive position, something that he has done in the past few years as a Shark. This year has not worked out quite the same for him.

    In an interview with David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News, Boyle stated, "The game's changed. Everybody's playing the same way -- the neutral zone is pretty much eliminated, which is where I get a lot of my offense. Everybody just fires long bombs, chipping it in. It's just a little bit more frustrating for me."

    "The opportunities aren't there like they used to be," he went on to say. "Just working on it, just trying to be better."

    That interview was conducted on November 27. Obviously, with his poor showing in Saturday's loss to the Panthers, Boyle has yet to find his groove on the ice.

1. Marc-Edouard Vlasic Is Having a Career Season

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    In the absence of production from Dan Boyle, Marc-Edouard Vlasic has really stepped it up, offensively and defensively. 

    He leads all Sharks' defensemen in points with 12, and is very solid on the defensive side.

    You can almost count on Vlasic to make the right play while on the ice. The trade that saw Miikka Kiprusoff go to the Flames may finally be working out for the Sharks.

    Whatever way you look at it, the productivity of Marc-Edouard Vlasic has been the one pleasant surprise in an otherwise sub-par start to the season by the San Jose Sharks.