"Shark Week" will be a piece that runs every week (or weekish, since we've been busy here) on Fear the Fin, where Plank and TCY will track the progress of the players over the course of each week. The players are listed alphabetically, the arrows will indicate the change on a weekly basis. We will also keep track of our top five Sharks players each week.
One of the Sharks only constants over the last few weeks. Since the team's 4-3 loss in Vancouver, Niemi had a save percentage under .915 just once (.880 against Toronto). Rebounds are still an issue, and most likely always will be. But he's improved in that regard and continues to get better with the glove and blocker.
Say what you will about Niittymaki's limited number of starts, but the fact remains that he's struggled mightily sine losing the 1A position in the Sharks' tandem. His save percentage has plummeted to .901, eclipsing .900 in just two games since Thanksgiving.
Tough to really evaluate the Sharks lone all-star, because there are two sides to every story with him. He's making mistakes in the defensive end, not scoring at the pace expected of him, and looks gassed at the end of the third period. However, the Sharks would be lost without his minutes, an NHL leading 27:01 per game. Boyle's arrow should likely be trending down considering his play of late, but keeping his minutes in mind, we're going with a flat-line and hoping for the best.
The potential Braun possesses is still there, but he's not fully ready for the NHL game. He's just been sent back to Worcester to continue his development. Playing top minutes in the AHL will be good for him. In the event anyone on the current blueline goes down with injury, expect Braun to get the call.
Just like Dan Boyle, Jason Demers has been asked to play more minutes than he's accustomed to. Because of this, he has not been able to shine in the ways we thought he would. We'd love to see more offense out of him, but until the Sharks make a move to alleviate the defensive workload on the current roster, it's unlikely that happens. We're content with the improvements in his defensive game but need more out of him offensively if the Sharks are going to make a playoff push.
Huskins hasn't looked good since returning from injury, and after a 09-10 season that saw him win some compassion from us, he's now becoming a liability on the majority of shifts. His puck moving ability has seemed to disappear, and his decision making is suspect in all zones. In the Sharks last two wins, he's been a minus player.
It seems that the all around ability displayed by Joslin has cemented him as the team's seventh defenseman. He hasn't excelled in any one area specifically, but he's responsible enough to earn the confidence of the coaching staff. It's likely he would be taking part in the Worcester shuttle, but with the requirement that he pass through waivers if sent down, expect to see him in San Jose all season long.
Still being leaned upon heavily, as is much of the defense. He's 10th in the league in hits, which isn't surprising for a player who likes to be physical. Has taken a newfound liking to the offensive game, specifically shooting from the point. Try this on for size-- beginning with the beginning of the season in October, Murray has taken 8, 10, 13, and 18 shots in each month respectively. And while the results aren't always pretty, it's nice to see Crankshaft throwing some weight into some shots instead of opossing player's craniums all the time.
Assists in each of his last two games, both Sharks wins. He's been called upon to be more active offensively even strength, which has made him less of the stay at home stalwart we've come to expect. Consistently underappreciated, consistently faces the toughest minutes amongst the blueline. Will be a key player down the stretch for San Jose. If you don't notice him, that's a good thing.
We applauded his progress early in the season, but he's been below average as of late. Last in quality of competition, last in EV TOI, last in +/-. Falling down to allow a goal against Edmonton was the lowlight of his recent stretch of poor play. We might blame it on the hamburgers, but then figured what spinach is to Popeye grilled beef is to Wallin.
Aside from an injury to Dan Boyle, injuries to Ryane Clowe or
would be near the top of the list in terms of damage to the roster. Well, the Sharks had to deal with injuries to both forwards over the course of the last few games. Although Clowe came back to play in the same game he was injured (1/13 v. Edmonton), he has yet to return. He's been one of the Sharks best players when healthy. Who were those idiots calling for him to be traded last season? Oh, right. That was us.
The Sharks got a bit of a scare when Couture went down after a questionable hit by
and missed the next game. The injury proved to be nothing more than a bit of swelling, though, as Couture has come back after missing just a game. He scored his 20th goal of the season against Phoenix and has moved onto the team's first line. You know the drill.
Desjardins was sent down to further make room for the additions of Eager and Wellwood. He was always an injury call-up to begin with, and McLellan didn't trust him in many situations. He averaged just 5:19 in three games with the team.
Eager is yet to play a game with San Jose, but the team hopes he can add size and grit to the fourth line. Here is our article explaining the addition.
Ferriero has been a bit of a non-factor lately, he's scored just one point in 2011 (eight games). Perhaps that's why he decided to drop the gloves against St. Louis. During the fight, Ferriero suffered an eye injury (swelling) and has not played since. With Pavelski back, and Clowe set to return sometime in the future, Ferriero will likely find himself on the third line when he returns.
Heatley is just one of the team's elite players to respond to the criticism of his coaches and his teammates. He's more engaged, and in turn, is scoring more. He has six points in his last three games, including three goals. San Jose is going to need that consistency from him all throughout the rest of the season. The Sharks will go as far and he, Marleau, and Thornton will take them, and his recent steps have been a good start.
Marleau, who just played in his 1,000th NHL game, has also been improving as of late. He's looked good on Pavelski's wing and has regained the speed that makes him so dangerous. A return to form from Marleau is great news for the Sharks. Now if he can only do something about that atrocious +/-...
Mashinter was probably our favorite of the recent batch of call-ups, as he had an effect on almost ever game he played. Sent packing with the acquisition of Kyle Wellwood
Has done little to make his mark on the team lately. We totally dig the eyebrows though.
McCarthy has not played a game since mid-December, suffering from that oh-so-contgious upper body injury bug that has plagued the team. He's been activated off injured reserve, though, and should return Thursday against Vancouver.
We don't know how many times we'll be able to give McGinn the green arrow, but his first goal of the season seems like it warrants the praise. Aside form the goal, though, McGinn has been a real spark plug on the bottom lines.
The chronically injured Mitchell finds himself on the shelf yet again, and it appears he'll stay there for some time. He has been placed on LTIR, which helps make room for Ben Eager and
Have to give Nichol the down arrow here, as his reckless physical play in Phoenix leaves the Sharks without his services for four games. The PK, which has been substandard all year, will hurt without his services.
He's looked very good between Marleau and Setoguchi on the Sharks new look second line. However, the team needs more scoring from him, especially in the goal department. Three assists in his last two is a good start, and looking at the numbers, there's no doubt his 6.0 S% should increase. Expect bigger things from Pavelski as the season heads into the crucial stages.
The Sharks' captain is on a tear offensively, with a goal and an assist in each of his last three games. The criticism of Thornton's leadership capabilities will always be there, but there's no doubt his attention to the defensive aspect of his game should be setting a good example for the rest of the team. An improvement in even strength scoring production, which almost certainly will tie in with an increase in Heatley's effectiveness, is what Jumbo Joe must focus on in his next ten games in order to prepare for San Jose's push for a playoff spot.
The winger's streaky season continues. No continuity to his game, and no scoring either. He has just one goal on the new year. A trade is most certainly a possibility-- the question is, how much is his value right now? Limited.
Wellwood was acquired yesterday off waivers from the Here is our article covering the addition.
Fear the Fin's Top Five