The player rankings that were posted earlier today inspired me to think of a few things to take away from the first 29 games of the season. Tomorrow will mark game number 30 and I doubt anyone thought we would be where we are now. When the actual 41 game mark comes I might feel inspired to do a complete midseason evaluation. However, I have a few points that I would like to make and would hope that others in the community would chime in with their thoughts as well.
1) Antero Nittymaki has been doing exactly what he is being paid to do.
Nittymaki is a tandem goalkeeper and nothing more. At the beginning of the season, Nitty was posting very impressive numbers that had the fans calling for a permanent benching of Niemi and having Nitty have Nabokov-like starts. However, his recent dip in production has the table turned towards Niemi. This might seem disappointing; however, it is exactly why Nitty was brought on in the first place. Nitty has a way of making true potential number 1 goalies better. If you are a number one goalie, Nitty will always be breathing down your neck, forcing you to step up your game. If you take a look at Niemi's numbers as the season has progressed, that is exactly what has happened. Don't be disappointed in Nittymaki my brothers and sisters. He is doing his job.
2) The youth movement is in full effect
Couture, Ferriero, and Braun have all made a splash this season with the team. After seeing his effectiveness near the end of last year, many expected Couture to stay with the main group for this season; but I'm sure no one saw him taking center in our second and sometimes even first line. Couture is a man on fire. He is Pavelski with a higher ceiling in my opinion. Ferriero and Braun have both made cases to stay with the squad even when Huskins and Seto get healthy. I'm not sure if it will actually happen, but at this rate this will be Seto's last year as a Shark. Many have noted that Braun is this years Jason Demers. It's nice to see the points, but the need for a true stay-home defenseman still lingers. Our veterans have vanished in the past few games. I will hear Couture or Clowe's name called on TV every minute or so but can literally go a whole period without anyone mentioning Thornton or Marleau until someone goes "holy shit, why is Marleau on the ice EVERY TIME we get scored against?"
3) The Sharks are playing bi-polar hockey, and it will probably stay that way until a trade
A trade IS coming. There is no use in denying it. This team can be lights-out some nights and a revolving door on other nights. Now i'm not saying that it is time to hit the panic button, because we have already established on this blog why that should not happen; but it is time to start evaluating our trade bait to see what we can lure. Setoguchi's stock MIGHT get us a new gatorade bucket and a couple of jock straps, but Clowe's stock could not be higher as it is difficult to find a true power forward with those kind of numbers. Trading Clowe would make me very sad but in order to get the caliber of defenseman we actually need we will actually be lucky if we only have to part with Clowe, lower pair defenseman, and a pick or two in the process.
Complete half-season evaluation coming soon. This was mostly to start discussion.
Also, on a sidenote: there is this thing that processes all of your facebook statuses over the past year and makes a collage of the words that appear the most frequently, the biggest words being the most common and small ones being the least. Well I just did it with my facebook and I thought this community would appreciate it: