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Sharks Circling the Western Conference

When it comes to one of the most consistent teams in the NHL over the last decade or so, one has to look no further than the San Jose Sharks.

Year in and year out, this team is a Stanley Cup contender as well as a threat to be the best team in the Western Conference. Heck, this team went to the Cup Final in 2016 when they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.

Going into this season, much of the same was expected from this hockey club. In the beginning of the season, however, the team certainly did not look great.

They were not winning on a consistent basis, were not getting great goaltending, and the team was basically hovering around .500. Simply put, they were not near anywhere as good as they were supposed to be.

It’s amazing how much things can change in a span of a few months. As of this writing the Sharks are one point out of first in the Pacific Division and are third in the entire NHL.

At 27-13-3, the Sharks are back to being not only one of the best teams in the West, but in the entire NHL. They are also one of the hottest teams in the league as they are currently 8-1-1 in their last ten games.

For the Sharks, it starts with their high-octane offense. The team is currently third in the league in goals scored as they have 167 goals in 47 games, putting them close to four goals per game.

Leading this team in points is offensive defenseman Brent Burns. Burns currently has 52 points (nine goals and 43 assists) and has shown no signs of slowing down.

Following Burns are the likes of Logan Couture (42 points), Timo Meier (41 points), Erik Karlsson (41 points), Joe Pavelski (39 points), Tomas Hertl (38 points), and Evander Kane (34 points).That’s a lot of offensive from those seven players combined.

Speaking of a lot of offense, the team’s back end has been outstanding. Guys like Burns and Karlsson have put up a ton of points and it’s very rare that a team has two Norris Trophy winners on the same team.

What’s also been huge for this hockey club is the fact that starting netminder Martin Jones has been able to get his game back into good shape. In the beginning of the season, he was awful and the team was forced to give back-up Aaron Dell a bunch of games and he did not provide the steady goaltending this team needed.

Fast forward to today and Jones is 21-8-4 with a 2.74 goals-against average, a .903 save percentage, and one shutout. While those numbers are not Jones-like, they are a lot better than they were a month ago and with him playing this way, the team is back near the top of the standings.

While the West is absolutely loaded with top end teams, the Sharks are definitely a team that has a chance to represent the conference come the Final. They have a great offense, their defense is improving, and Jones is starting to play like he always has for the Sharks.

Watch out folks. The Sharks smell blood in the water.


Photo: 
The Mercury News

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