Despite walking away with a victory Sunday night, the Sharks looked slow and out of sorts in opening the season against the Calgary Flames. Many assured us that the win probably didn’t mean much — a better barometer for the Sharks would be Tuesday’s tilt with the Edmonton Oilers. With plenty of speed to go around and young stars ready to break out, San Jose might either show they’re for real or show their age.
20 minutes and six goals into the bout and San Jose showed there was nothing slow about ’em.
You might have to do a double-take at the box score just to make sure it’s real. Six goals on 17 shots. Three goals on four power plays. Two goals from Patrick Marleau to go with his two on Sunday. Two more from Logan Couture. One apiece from defensemen Dan Boyle and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Two assists for Joe Pavelski and three helpers for Joe Thornton.
The outburst is tied for most goals in one period by the Sharks and the first time they’ve done it on the road. It was also the fastest six goals in San Jose’s 22-year history.
The long time-Sharks weren’t the only ones who impressed. Ticky-tacky penalty aside, Brad Stuart was particularly effective in his second game since re-donning a Sharks jersey, generating two effective scoring chances including a beautiful behind the back pass to Martin Havlat right in front of the net. He notched his first point of the year in assisting on Marleau’s first goal.
And let’s be honest — Patty’s the guy who’ll be the talk of San Jose when the Sharks make their return to HP Pavilion on Thursday night. He and Thornton are integral sprockets in the Sharks’ hot start. No one has ever pointed at Marleau and proclaimed he doesn’t score regular season goals, but his contributions in the first two games have come from all over the ice, including down in front of the net (much to the dismay of Jeremy Roenick, I’m sure). He’s been collecting and depositing rebounds, showing nice hands and sniping with precision from the slot. You could say the same thing about Couture as well.
Marleau can thank Thornton for a lot of his success. The two pose the most formidable scoring threat on the Sharks, melding two completely different styles and forming what can only be described as beautiful goals. Jumbo was the primary helper on both of Marleau’s goals, and both of his passes were mind-boggling. Thornton seems to know exactly where Marleau is on the ice at all times, and so far their 2013 season has read like an epic best buds flick (without the adversity). The Sharks’ penalty kill has been nothing short of deadly so far, and these two guys are the reason.
— It’s the smallest of sample sizes, but Marleau is tied for the league lead in goals through two games. Just how meaningless is the stat right now? He shares the title with Chicago’s Marian Hossa and former-Shark/now-Anaheim Duck Daniel Winnik.
— Yep. Daniel Winnik.
— Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk got pulled during the first intermission for backup Yann Denis. Denis didn’t give up a goal to the Sharks for the rest of the game, but then again San Jose took the foot off the pedal and really sat on their five goal lead for the final 40 minutes.
— The Sharks’ new-look penalty kill took some more hits at the hands of the Oilers, giving up a man advantage goal to rookie Nail Yakupov in the first period and a 5-on-3 goal to rookie Justin Schultz in the second. Adam Burish, one of the Sharks’ few offseason additions, was responsible for Yakupov’s goal; Sam Gagner fed the puck across the crease and Burish couldn’t catch up in time to defend the pass.
— Speaking of the penalty kill, it may be one of the only places where the Sharks are truly missing Brent Burns and Jason Demers right now. For all of the punch Douglas Murray may pack, he certainly lacks in quickness, agility and the ability to close on puckhandlers.
— Nothing official yet on Scott Gomez, but seeing as the former Habs center has been following the Sharks around Alberta and skating in their jersey, he should be signing soon. We’ll see how the bottom two lines alter if/when it happens.