The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Sharks Have Impressive Start to the Season

The San Jose Sharks have been known to dominate the first few games of the hockey season and this year is no different. In their first eight games, the Sharks have a record of 7-0-1, including two 4-1 wins against their Canadian rival, the Vancouver Canucks.

The Sharks’ early success can be attributed to the strong return of veteran players in addition to the introduction of fresh offensive talent over the months leading up to the beginning of the ‘13-’14 season.

Most players remain the same: The defense is still headed by Dan Boyle and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. The main core of forwards from last season still consists of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture. These four veteran forwards have started off with a solid contribution of goals and assists to the team, and all of them are currently within the top 10 in the NHL for most points scored this season.

The most notable changes to the Sharks roster are the new forwards acquired during the offseason. Perhaps most worthy of mention is the 19-year-old phenom from the Czech Republic, Tomas Hertl, who was the Sharks’ first pick (17th overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft. The rookie has been nothing short of spectacular.

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Hertl has already scored seven goals, tying him for the most goals in the league with four other players, including stars Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin and fellow Shark, Patrick Marleau. Four of Hertl’s goals came in a single game against the New York Rangers, when he set many records: Hertl is the first Shark to record a four goal game in 18 years, and the youngest player in the NHL to score four goals in one game in nearly 30 years. Hertl’s fourth goal of the Rangers game was a stunning, through-the-legs shot into the top left corner of the net, which many are already predicting to be the goal of the season.

Other notable additions to the offensive roster include rookie Matthew Nieto and Tyler Kennedy who was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Nieto has already posted two goals and three assists, and Kennedy has posted one goal and two assists. The Sharks offense is not without its losses though: powerhouse forwards Martin Havlat and Raffi Torres both start this season on injured reserve. Both had major surgery shortly before the start of the season. Havlat underwent a bilateral pelvic reconstruction procedure, and Torres went under the knife for a torn ACL. Torres is not expected to return for at least three to five months. While there is no known timeline regarding Havlat’s recovery, he is slated to return at some point this season, according to Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson.

But the offense has been phenomenally strong in spite of the losses incurred by player injuries. The Sharks are currently leading the NHL in shots per game, average goals per game and overall goals scored. The Sharks have scored 39 goals so far, beating out the second highest-scoring team by nine goals.

The returning defensive squad has also had solid performances so far; the Sharks have permitted the fourth lowest number of total goals, and goals per game out of the 30 teams in the NHL.

Only time will tell whether the ‘13-’14 Sharks have it in them to finally win the Stanley Cup. Their early success is certainly promising, but one can’t forget that last year the Sharks started off with seven back-to-back wins and then fell into a seven game losing streak.

Even with this in mind, Sharks fans should definitely be optimistic.

In the past, the Sharks have been known to choke in the playoffs after regular season domination, usually due to lack of execution from veteran players. However, their current roster has both depth and fresh talent, which may be just what the Sharks need to become real cup contenders.

Additionally, the Sharks are long overdue for a Stanley Cup Championship. The team has made it to the Conference finals twice in the last five years, which is a feat only shared with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Boston Bruins and the Los Angeles Kings. Each of the teams who shares this achievement with the Sharks has won a Stanley Cup in the last five years.

All things considered–the combination of veteran star players and skilled new teammates, the promising performance of the team thus far and their playoff history–the Sharks have a real chance at being championship contenders this year.

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