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Sharks Showcase Speed, Skill, Size and Youth

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks
It is said that statistics can reveal what the reader is looking to see. Numbers have a strange way of confirming our beliefs, and making our doubts more concrete. It is easy to get caught in an over-analytical state of madness when we talk about sports. Perhaps it’s because we wish to see into the future, and identify the best teams by sheer numbers.
 
Anyone who has been around sports for a long time knows that numbers don’t always mean everything and sometimes they mean nothing at all. However, the San Jose Sharks have some very interesting player statistics this year.
 
This year’s team is an average of 26.4 years old. This is the lowest in the NHL, with the next youngest team being the Pittsburgh Penguins at 27.1. Youth is a great thing to have in a team, and young squads are sometimes associated with a team that is “re-building” for the future and trying to develop their youth.
 
The San Jose Sharks do not fall into this category because they are putting a competitive team on the ice this year and have every year in the Doug Wilson era. Having a well balanced team is crucial in the NHL, and the Sharks are set up in a prime position boasting lots of young talent, and some older veterans to “show them the ropes.”
 
Excelling in their roles as the veterans on the team are Patrick Marleau, Evgeni Nabokov and Kyle McLaren who provide advice to the younger guys. By remaining a young growing team, but always having a few of those older veterans to lead the way, the San Jose Sharks believe they are in a position to remain competitive for years to come.
 
While the Sharks are the youngest team in the NHL, they also boast the leagues tallest and heaviest players as well. It may seem odd to the casual hockey fans that the youngest team in the NHL would also have the biggest players. An obvious advantage to having larger players is that they can get in front of the puck easier, making it more difficult to be scored on by the opposition.
 
In lieu of this fact, the NHL has discussed making the nets larger several times in the past years in order to increase scoring opportunities. The connection between weight and height players is one that is easy to figure out, but the connection between bigger players and the youth of a team is a bit trickier.
 
Do these numbers even mean anything?  A lot of hockey analysts would say no. They might point out the fact that game time decisions, and good execution are more important factors in striving for the Stanley Cup, not their youthfulness or size.
 
Some might say these numbers are significant because the biggest team can be more physical, and makes it tougher for the other team to score. All we can do is wait and see… and hopefully at the end of the year we can all say the most important number is one. One Stanley Cup won by the San Jose Sharks, a team that has been in the league only fifteen years. Plenty of Sharks fans could learn to like that number!
 
INJURY UPDATE
Mark Smith sat out of today’s practice as he recovers from a charley horse affecting his right thigh. Smith left last night’s game after colliding with a Kings defender in the neutral zone but left the ice under his own power and went immediately to the dressing room.


“It’s pretty sore,” Smith said. “We’ll see how it goes and maybe try to skate tomorrow.”

Smith is listed currently day-to-day.
 
CARLE TO BE HONORED BY UNIVERSITY OF DENVER
The University of Denver will honor 2006 Hobey Baker Award winner and current San Jose Sharks defenseman Matt Carle with a special on-ice ceremony during the first intermission of the Pioneers’ game against Michigan Tech Friday, Nov. 17. Carle returns to Denver with the Sharks this week for the first time since winning college hockey’s top individual honor last April.
 
In 2006, Carle became the first player in DU history to capture the coveted Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s top player. The junior captain and two-time All-American also became the first player in WCHA history to earn Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors in the same season after leading all NCAA defenseman with 53 points on 11 goals and a nation-leading 42 assists. Carle also became the second Pioneer to be named USA Hockey’s College Player of the Year.
 
Carle played an instrumental role in helping the Pioneers to back-to-back NCAA National Championships in 2004 and 2005, and helped Team USA to the gold medal at the 2004 IIHF World Junior Championships. Carle finished his illustrious three-year DU career as the fourth-most prolific scoring defensemen with 122 points on 29 goals and 93 assists in 112 career games.
 
Carle decided to forego his senior season when he signed a professional contract with the Sharks March 19 and tallied six points on three goals and three assists in 12 games. This season, Carle is third among NHL rookies with 14 points on three goals and 11 assists in 18 games for the 13-5 Sharks who play the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center Wednesday, Nov. 15.
 
NEXT GAME
The Sharks conclude their four-game road trip in Colorado against the Avalanche. Game time is set for 6:00 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on FSN Bay Area, KFOX 98.5 FM, Sharks Radio Network Affiliates and SJSHARKS.com.
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