Team Weaknesses: The blueline has a lot of questions surrounding it, and it remains a spot to watch intently this season. Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Rob Blake will likely be paired together again as a shutdown line, but with Blake's increasing age and propensity to take "slow" penalties last season (hooking, holding), Vlasic's development will be put to the test. At twenty two years of age it's not out of the question to expect him to make up for Blake's potential declines.
Dan Boyle is known for his offensive skills, and while he is not necessarily a liability in the defensive zone, it's not an area where he flourishes. Douglas Murray is of the opposite mold- a player who is able to shut down the cycle and clear bodies from the front of the net, stand up forwards at the blueline, and provides a nastiness that is lacking on San Jose's backend. Pairing them together might be a good solution, as it will provide Boyle the ability to carry the puck in the neutral zone and work in the lower half of the offensive zone- two aspects of his game where he is found at his best.
After that remains many unknowns- Kent Huskins has not impressed me in the three games I saw this preseason, and will be a question mark going forward. Derek Joslin, who was a frequent call-up during the aforementioned months of injury at the tail end of last season, has made a strong bid for his inclusion onto the roster with his penalty kill time and offensive upside, but his age and lack of a full season in the NHL will bring some obligatory growing pains.
As we head into Month Nine (!!!) of my personal hell known as the San Jose Sharks blueline, I'm a sad little grizzly bear. The once plentiful salmon has been shredded over the last ninety six hours, leaving little but bones and scales floating down the lazy river of dreams.
If I've said it forty seven times I might as well say it again-- Evgeni Nabokov saved the Sharks porous team defense last season, posting a .922 SV% while the eighteen players in front of him allowed the eighth highest total shots against in the NHL. You can't expect that a downgrade in net from a 09-10 Evgeni Nabokov to a 10-11 tandem of Thomas Greiss and Antero Niitty-mahgodyournameishardtospell, coupled with a downgrade on the blueline, is going to get you better results. It's something that I have hammered on for so long here that the whole song and dance has become a convenient outlet for me to bitch about my love life behind the veil of desiring a defensive shutdown specialist.
The pricing on the Niclas Wallin deal makes me angry every time I think about it (she wants me to spend money I don't have on flowers that will die in three days), even if it was meant to give San Jose another trade chip during trade negotiations by making Douglas Murray more available in the trade market. I don't like the fact that the top four as a whole doesn't have a whole lot of physical prowess (she laughs when I take my shirt off) and can't really move the puck up the ice either (I'm infertile). Furthermore, although Rob Blake's retirement comes as no surprise, I think I'm going to miss him more than I thought I would considering his pretty fucking effective underlying statistics and the fact that DW hasn't gotten a replacement for him yet (Viagra at twenty two? Seriously?).
Vlasic, you're the crunchy peanut butter on my sliced granny smith apples. I could eat you every day of the week at any time and never get tired of you, especially when one considers price paid for services. Boyle, you're my Johnnie Walker Black Label. An expensive treat that I'm willing to gorge myself on just because you're one of the best out there on the market.
Everyone else is a thirty rack of Milwaukee's Best. It gets the job done on some nights, but drink too much and you grow a third nipple and start chewing on tanbark for lunch. Then you poop out a pair of 9-Volt batteries and realize that you need to start drinking some new goddamn beer.
Yeah yeah yeah, Doug Wilson is making his phone calls and biding his time, he ain't getting bamboozled and he wants a winner on the ice. I get that.
But right now I'm a sad little grizzly bear.
Someone hold me and tell me I'm special.