7 Things the San Jose Sharks Need to Do to End the Poor Play

Michael DeSantis@@dtrain2495Senior Analyst IDecember 12, 2011

7 Things the San Jose Sharks Need to Do to End the Poor Play

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    The San Jose Sharks looked great after the month of November, and I thought they would look good coming into December. Well, I was wrong. So far, the Sharks are 2-3-1 this month.

    The record isn't exactly alarming; what's alarming is the Sharks play. The offense hasn't been producing many goals outside of a five-goal game against the Dallas Stars, and the defense has been letting the shots pile up on Antti Niemi.

    If this play keeps up, the Sharks record may end up looking worse soon. However, no need to worry too much. The Sharks have plenty of talent to help them get on a huge winning streak.

    Here's how they can snap the ugly slide and start on another hot streak.

1. Win Games at Home

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    The Sharks record this season is 15-10-2.

    So far at home, the Sharks are 8-6-1, and on the road, the Sharks are 7-4-1.

    Whoa, the Sharks road record is slightly better than their home record. That's not good. Home games are important for a team to get some wins behind a big crowd. The Sharks have loads of fan support—they sell out nearly every game.

    The Sharks need to start making their games worth the fans' money. 8-6-1 is a decent record, but for a team as talented as the Sharks, you need to win more games.

    Winning games at home in front of the fans is a big confidence boost for the team and gathers the fans behind your backs as well. Why else do you think nearly every team has a better home record than on the road?

2. Attack on Offense More in the Third Period

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    This is not to say the Sharks exactly take the third period off. They just don't have the right strategy when holding a one- or two-goal lead heading into the third.

    It's blatant that the Sharks try to run their third periods with a lead by relaxing on offense and playing a strictly defensive game. That's not the way to win. And it's been evidenced in the Sharks' games. One or two pucks are eventually going to go by Niemi or Thomas Greiss if you try to conserve the lead in your own end.

    If the Sharks want to win games, they're going to need to put pucks in the opponent's net and increase their leads instead of worrying about giving up the lead.

3. Big Players Need to Show Up on the Score Sheet

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    The lack of offense has been evident because a majority of the big players on the Sharks haven't been scoring goals.

    I'm a huge Patrick Marleau fan, but the fact he hasn't scored a goal in seven games makes me a bit uneasy.

    Joe Pavelski has been declining as of late after a superhuman start.

    Ryane Clowe hasn't been scoring a lot of goals lately, and neither has Joe Thornton.

    Dan Boyle and Martin Havlat still only have just one goal on the year.

    The Sharks really need their big players to appear in the goal column often if they want to win games and have success in the postseason.

4. Fix the Penalty Kill

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    Special teams are a very important part of hockey. The Sharks penalty kill has been dreadful. They've only killed just over 75 percent of penalties they've taken.

    It's going to be rough to win some games if the opponent scores often when you're going to the box.

5. Fix the Power Play

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    The Sharks started off as a great power-play team this season, but they've been slowly falling, and falling and falling.

    Now, the Sharks have a 17.5 percent power play, which is 15th in the league—not good. The Sharks special teams coaches have a lot to do.

    The Sharks have always been around the top 10 of PP and PK percentage for the past several seasons. And if this is supposedly one of the most talented Sharks roster in years, then where is the problem?

    Maybe the Sharks need to have practices for solely special teams, or the lines need to be jumbled. Or maybe they need to be kept the same to create chemistry?

    No matter the problem, the Sharks need to turn around their PP and PK in order to get back on a winning path.

6. Get More Goals from the Blue Line

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    So far this season, only two Sharks defensemen have more than one goal. Brent Burns has four, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic has two.

    Dan Boyle and Jason Demers only have one goal each.

    The Sharks have only gotten nine goals from defensemen this season, in total.

    That's not a pretty stat—the Sharks defense needs to step it up on offense.

    Dan Boyle may be at the age of decline, but he should definitely have more than one goal at this point in the season.

    The Sharks need more defensemen to contribute in the goal column.

7. Martin Havlat Needs to Step It Up and Score Goals

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    In the offseason, Martin Havlat was acquired from the Minnesota Wild to be a faster version of Dany Heatley and be a consistent scoring threat for the Sharks.

    The Sharks were expecting 25 goals or so from Havlat. But so far in 23 games, Havlat only has one goal. He's on pace for about four goals. That's pretty bad.

    Don't get me wrong, I like Havlat. Sure, he has 11 assists, but he's been declining in that department too as of late.

    It's goals that win games. A team can't win if they aren't lighting the lamp. Havlat needs to start scoring some more goals like he's capable of.

    You can argue he's drowning in the depth of the Sharks offense, but he was supposed to be one of the Sharks major goal threats.

    If Havlat can start tickling the twine, the Sharks will have an easier time winning games.