By Chris Loveland
That’s right, these Sharks are making the playoffs. Book it.
Well maybe don’t book it, but as a Sharks fan since the days of Mike Ricci and Owen Nolan, I’m not used to seeing this team miss the playoffs. With the NHL playoffs all you have to do is make it, and then its anybody’s cup. Every year I ask myself, “Why can’t it be us?”
While the Sharks have never won the cup, here are the ten reasons why I have blind faith that this is our year.
- This may be Patrick Marleau’s last year in the league, especially with new head coach Peter Deboer at the helm. Marleau is arguably the greatest Shark of all time, and as my personal favorite NHL player, to see him go out on a lackluster season would be heartbreaking.
- No more Todd Mclellan. Maybe this year we will have some kind of rhyme or reason to line combinations, and rapport developed within the lines.
- The big young talent up front. The future of this team is bright my friends, starting with forwards Melker Karlsson, Tomas Hertl, Barclay Goodrow, Nikolay Galdobin, and Chris Tierney, all of whom 25 or under. These six all have top 3 line potential this year alone, and they are learning under veterans like Couture, Thornton, Marleau, and Pavelski. The development of these young guns will be fun to watch.
- This revamped defense is BIG. The entire defense on the current roster are all listed above 6″0″ and, save Demelo at 195, 200 lbs or above. I can’t wait to see how Deboer pairs up these versatile D-men.
- Martin Jones. We snagged Jones from the Kings this offseason, and even though he’s been backing up Jonathan Quick for 2 years, he’s shown true potential in his limited playing time. In 2013-14 he posted a 94.67% even strength save percentage, which is very good. We’ll have to just wait and see what we have in Jones, but I’m an optimist. This year Jones will clear our minds of the consistently mediocre Antti Niemi.
- Jumbo Joe. Jumbo was way too quiet last year, I’m expecting a big bounce back season for the vet. Thornton’s ice awareness is up there with the greatest of all time, and even if he is past his physical prime, don’t count him out just yet.
- Brent Burns. This man is a competitor. Last year’s failure clearly hurt him, and if you don’t think he will come out firing this year, you are sorely mistaken.
- The mixture of youth and veteran talent will create perfect harmony this year. These young guys will all have an experienced veteran to guide them throughout this year.
- The winning atmosphere. In the last season of Mclellan’s tenure there was a noticeable change within the confidence of the team; they no longer expected to win, they hoped to win. Deboer brings with him a swagger that Mcllelan lost throughout last year’s season, and this team needs some swagger.
- Tomas Hertl. Hertl is healthy and he is looking very good in the offseason. Also, I still remember when he first came on to the scene, proceeding to tear up he NHL until his gruesome injury. Expect a huge year from the young Czech beast.