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San Jose Sharks

Sharks’ Best Line Doesn’t Include Thornton

sharksfanDuring last year’s playoff run two things stood out as being key to the Sharks defeat in the second round. The first was the collapse of the penalty kill. The second was the inability to score when the opposition neutralized Joe Thornton. It became obvious to me (and I’m no expert so if I saw it….) that when a team wanted to hinder the Sharks’ scoring opportunities they would simply throw everyone they had at Joe. Since the Sharks didn’t advance I’d say that tactic paid off.

The guys on NHL Live! pointed out that, after removing Brian Campbell from the equation, the Sharkss second leading points scorer behind Joe was Milan Michalek, followed closely by Joe Pavelski and Jonathan Cheechoo. The problem is that the gap between Thornton and Michalek was over 40 points and their theory is that you can’t have that kind of drop off between your first and second points scorers and expect to get very far in the playoffs.

As reported by The Contra Costa Times, the line of Michalek, Pavelski and Cheechoo put up up 9 points in 5 games this preseason. Todd McLellan says that line is the Sharks’ best so far. We can always count on a Thornton line for production, so maybe if this second line can increase their output under the McLellan Plan we can close that scoring gap and give opposing defenses more to defend.

I’m also curious to see what McLellan’s strategy is around switching up lines. It always drove me crazy that Ron Wilson would switch up his forwards more often than flights leaving San Jose Mineta International. You gotta figure that too much shuffling starts to backfire on you at some point, that you gotta let guys work it out with their line mates on their own.

In any case all will be revealed very soon - opening day is tomorrow….

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