Joined: 22/05/2017 06:31:49
In games 48, and 50 of the regular season,adidas Frans Nielsen jersey, 49, the Sharks began to answer the biggest ‘what if' in franchise history.
What if they had neither Patrick Marleau nor Joe Thornton in the lineup?
Wednesday's 2-1 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings was just the third time since Jan. 21, of course, famously left for greener pastures with the Toronto Maple Leafs this summer, 2004 that San Jose played a game without Thornton and Marleau. Marleau, while his fellow ex-Sharks captain reportedly almost joined him.
That's according to The Athletic's Kevin Kurz, the Sharks have gotten a small glimpse, over the last three games, who wrote in January that Thornton "was closer to signing with Toronto last summer than many people realize." Due to Thornton's right MCL injury, of what that would have looked like.
It hasn't been all bad. On one hand, controlling 52.07 percent of the shot attempts and 52.21 percent of the unblocked shot attempts, San Jose has won the five-on-five possession battle,Authentic Gordie Howe jersey, according to Natural Stat Trick.
They've also only scored 0.06 fewer goals per 60 minutes of five-on-five play (2.05) compared to when Thornton was playing (2.11). That's still not all that productive, but not nearly a big enough drop to sound any alarms.
On the other,adidas Wayne Gretzky jersey, the Sharks are just 0-2-1 in those three games. They've been outscored 12-8 in regulation and overtime,adidas Henrik Zetterberg jersey, and their once-smoldering power play has only converted on one of its last eight opportunities without Thornton.
Plus, which was already a major concern,Authentic Frans Nielsen jersey, their defensive play, has remained largely subpar. San Jose has still allowed far too many high-danger chances (12.32 per 60 minutes of five-on-five play) over the last three games.
Goaltender Martin Jones bailed the defense out on Wednesday,adidas Jimmy Howard jersey, posting a save percentage (.977) above .920 for just the fifth time in his last 16 appearances. The Sharks can reasonably expect him to be better than he has since December, but routinely relying on 40-plus saves isn't exactly
a recipe for success.
Three games sans Thornton are not nearly enough to draw any meaningful conclusions, Authentic Henrik Zetterberg jersey,and aren't scoring much without him,Authentic Jimmy Howard jersey, but some are beginning to become apparent. San Jose wasn't scoring all that much with him, particularly on the power play.
There's undoubtedly a hole atop the roster, though,adidas Gordie Howe jersey, perhaps two with Marleau also gone. As long as the Sharks' poor defensive play continues to overshadow Thornton's injury,Authentic Wayne Gretzky jersey, answering ‘what if' will have to wait.