When it comes to scoring, the Sharks high powered talent knows a thing or two about putting up points. They also know how to spread the wealth. San Jose has five players who have reached the 60 point plateau this year. Only the Anaheim Ducks can claim a similar number and the Philadelphia Flyers are the only other franchise with more than three 60 point men. There are 10 clubs that don’t even have one person at the point level.
In essence, the numbers say the Sharks are very difficult to defend. Sometimes an entire line will consist of all three 60 point players on a club. Things are very different with Team Teal where three lines contain at least one individual with 60 points.
Those leading the scoring way for San Jose include Patrick Marleau
(69), Joe Thornton
(66), Joe Pavelski
(63), Dany Heatley (62) and Ryane Clowe
(62). That makes it almost impossible to key on one group as this list doesn’t even include San Jose’s second leading goal scorer in Logan Couture
“It’s tough to defend a team with so many guys that can produce offense,” Heatley said. “A lot of teams you can kind of key on one line. On this team, you can try and take away one line, but the other two or three lines have that ability to score goals.”
“It makes the team that much more potent,” Marleau said. “You see teams that win Stanley Cups and that’s what they do. They have everybody contributing at key times, first, second, third and fourth line. Everybody is doing their job. It’s good to mix it up.”
When the postseason arrives, as it will a little over a week from now, the depth will become even more necessary.
“This time of year, you need depth all the way through the playoffs, you need scoring from everybody,” Heatley said. “We like our makeup. The deeper you get in the playoffs the better the caliber of guys on the other team and you get more matchups where they can play against the second and third lines as well. We need that depth and it’s been here all year for us.”
With the scoring dispersed throughout the lines, it makes it a little more fun for the players themselves.
“No matter what level of hockey you are at, or what type of player you are, when you put that foot in the car and are coming to the rink, you want to score a goal,” McLellan said. “As much as you want to win the game, individually you’d like to score goals. If you’re a four minute player or a 24 minute player, the goal is the same – to win the game and find a way to get on the scoresheet. ”
“You saw (the depth) right from the start of the year,” Pavelski said. “I think guys expect production out of themselves and not out of the line.”
The scoring up and down the lineup may be exciting for the Sharks, but not for the opponents who have to stop them.
The Sharks have posted 100 points now in five consecutive seasons and to the players who have been around during the time, including Thornton, Marleau and Pavelski, it is a source of pride.
“It started a while back, but it’s something we’ve tried to ingrain in ourselves,” Marleau stated. “We’ve put in a lot of hard work and effort over the years. It’s good to see, being at the top of the league, having one of the best teams every year and being in the playoffs with a chance to win.”
“The ultimate goal is the playoffs, but you’ve got to perform in the regular season to get there,” Pavelski said. “It’s a nice thing, but it comes from the day-to-day. Focusing on the games and taking it step by step.”
Heatley is in his second season seeing the Sharks success firsthand and he can see why the success has been going on for years.
“We play with each other and we know what each other is capable of,” Heatley said. “When we have our game together, we are as good as anybody in the league.”
A lot of clubs have the talent to reach 100 points, yet the Sharks keep finding way to accomplish the mark.
“In January of this year, we were a long way away from it,” Heatley pointed out. “We found our game and found how we need to play. It’s been fun.”
“There was as stretch this year where it didn’t look like we were going to get there, but the guys turned it on,” Pavelski said. “We needed it to just to get into the layoffs and it resulted in a 100 point season.”
It’s not just happenstance that the five straight years of 100 points has taken place and it is a statement around the NHL.
“It lends some credibility to what we do as an organization,” McLellan said. “It reverts all the way back to Tim Burke and his scouting staff. You don’t achieve regular season success like that without having some talent and the scouts have done a very good job. Doug and his staff have done assembled some talent and the players themselves come to the rink prepared to play. I’m sure it’s a goal of theirs each year.”
Los Angeles is up next for San Jose and even though the Kings have lost two of their top offensive talents it hasn’t deterred their winning ways.
“With their makeup, they’re a very good defensive team,” McLellan said. “Their penalty kill is excellent. Their goaltender is tremendous. When you lose key pieces like they did, unfortunately for them, others tend to play to their strengths. They only gave up one goal against Dallas and didn’t give up many chances. I expect them to play that way and they have all year.”
The Jr. Sharks 12 U Girls team defeated the East Coast Wizards 1-0 in overtime to capture USA Hockey’s National Championship. This is the first National Championship for the Jr. Sharks. Congratulations to Coach Rick Burke and all the girls on the team.
Tickets for the Sharks 7 p.m. Monday game with Los Angeles can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The game will be on CSN California, 98.5/102.1 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.