The way the 2013-2014 season has gone so far, it's hard to argue that the Blackhawks and Sharks aren't two of the elite teams in the NHL. And elite teams are made with elite players. Canada will be releasing its Olympic roster on Tuesday, and both Chicago and San Jose both ice multiple candidates for the team. For Patrick Marleau and Patrick Sharp, there's a good chance that they're competing for the same roster spot.
Our counterparts over at Eyes on the Prize made their projections a few days ago and had Marleau as the left wing on a tantalizingly responsible fourth line with Logan Couture and Patrice Bergeron. But couldn't Sharp play that role as well? Sure, Marleau and Couture have chemistry. But Sharp could also play with Jonathan Toews, who is sure to be a lock. And Sharp is currently second in the NHL with 25 goals. Then again, Marleau has more size and experience from the 2010 Olympics. Technically, they could both make the team, but there are plenty of other forwards in the mix for a spot as well. Let's decide who wins this battle.
And that battle is a lot tougher to sort out than you might think.
The Patricks are remarkably similar. Both are speedy, goal-scoring, two-way players who can play in any situation and at any one of the forward positions, but seem to stick at left wing more than anywhere else. And since the last Olympics, their stats are remarkably alike.
Marleau seems to be a bit more durable, while Sharp is scoring at a slightly higher rate. The only real, glaring difference is +/-. That's not the most reliable stat - and likely has more to do with the teams around them then their play themselves. So, should Canada go with Marleau's experience, or Sharp's hot hand? Let's look closer at this season so far.
|GP||G||A||P||+/-||PIM||PPG||SHG||GWG||Shots||S%||Corsi For%||Relative Corsi||PDO||Off/Def Zone%||PP TOI/G||SH TOI/G|
|26-10-6, 58 points
||29-7-8, 66 points|
|2nd in Pacific
||1st in Central
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Projected Sharks Lineup
Joe Pavelski - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Matt Nieto
James Sheppard - Andrew Desjardins - Bracken Kearns
Eriah Hayes - Freddie Hamilton - Mike Brown
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle
Scott Hannan - Jason Demers
Projected Blackhawks Lineup
Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa
Brandon Saad - Michal Handzus - Patrick Kane
Bryan Bickell - Andrew Shaw - Kris Versteeg
Brandon Bollig - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith
Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Johnny Oduya
Nick Leddy - Sheldon Brookbank
Prediction: Sharks win 3-2 in a shootout. Everyone named Patrick scores a goal. And also James Sheppard, who changes his name to Patrick Sheppard during second intermission. Meanwhile, everyone in the Chicago area wins if they go to my family's pizza place!