Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 03/23/12 at 03:18 PM ET
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
The Sharks were a 105-point team a year ago, won two rounds, qualified for the conference championship for a second consecutive year and then ultimately lost to Vancouver, in part because Thornton, their top centre, was injured and could hardly play in the third round because of a separated shoulder.
The Sharks were so convinced of their championship potential that they worked even harder to tweak the lineup in the hopes of leapfrogging the Canucks this season. GM Doug Wilson made two separate trades with the Minnesota Wild. In one, he brought in defenceman Brent Burns to add scoring from the blueline. In the other, he added Martin Havlat to replace Dany Heatley, thinking the chemistry change would revitalize Havlat and the team.
But Havlat got off to a slow start, missed more than two months with a torn hamstring, and since his return he has been one of the better Sharks’ players. Burns has been okay too. After scoring 17 goals and 46 points for the Wild last year, he had 10 goals and 35 points through 72 games for the Sharks – playing about 22 and a half minutes as opposed to the 25 he played a year ago. Surprisingly, Thornton is actually having a better statistical year this year than last, with 69 points in 74 games after scoring only 70 in 80 a year ago. Logan Couture is up too, but Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and especially Ryan Clowe have seen their numbers drop; and no secondary scoring has emerged to take the pressure off the big boys. Suddenly, it looks as if every step the Sharks have taken to get closer to playoff success has actually moved them half-a-step back.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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