The San Jose Sharks impressive start continued on Tuesday in Washington D.C. with a 5-0 win over the Capitals. Goaltender Martin Jones shut the door on the Caps, making 31-saves to record back-to-back shutouts. Joe Thornton, Mike Brown, Tomas Hertl, Matt Nieto, and Chris Tierney all had goals for the Sharks.
It’s been so-far-so-good for the Sharks, but San Jose has gotten off to hot starts before just to cool off down the road. In 2013-14, the Sharks won six straight to start the season, but in the end couldn’t live up to all the hype.
As for Jones, the North Vancouver native looks like he could be the Sharks future between the pipes. And while the Martin Jones bandwagon continues to fill up, I remember seeing him pull a similar stunt before. Filling in for injured LA Kings starter Jonathan Quick back in December of 2013, Jones won eight games straight. So perhaps the Sharks new goaltender just has a knack for strong starts.
Of course, these are all just 'what-ifs.' I am not suggesting that you doubt this team, but if you're still in the 'cautiously optimistic' camp, I get why. On the other hand, if you're happy with what you've seen and are stoked for the rest of the season, I get that too; I'm definitely leaning more toward that camp.
It's early, but it's hard not get excited about these Sharks. From what we’ve seen, Jones has been excellent in net for San Jose and I can definitely see him being an instrumental part of the Sharks success, especially as the long season starts to drag on. Behind the bench, Peter DeBoer has been doing a lot of things right and against the Capitals, he flexed his coaching muscles and the Sharks won their first ever coaching challenge as a result.
It's hard to make sweeping declarations and commit to predications this early on; I can only comment on what I’ve seen so far from the Sharks in their past three game, and what I’ve seen is an energetic, cohesive team that has been a blast to watch. Against the Capitals, we saw offensive production up and down the Sharks lines, successful penalty killing, and the ability for the Sharks maintain good puck possession.
That kind of play that demonstrates the Sharks’ ability to perform as a complete team is all there needs to be right now. Consistency and endurance, those are all things to worry about down the road. For now, the Sharks are a team to get excited about.
It certainly seems as if the changes the Sharks made during the offseason are paying off. One of those big changes was bringing Peter DeBoer onboard to lead the coaching staff. All during training camp, he talked about making sure that the Sharks would be ready to play as a four-line team.
DeBoer has a plan. He commented before the start of the season, "with how we want to play, with the pressure and skating, and the schedule and the travel, we have to able to play all four lines."
Three of the four Sharks lines found the back of the net against Washington. This kind of offensive pressure might be a little bit of what DeBoer is looking for. Being able to expect production from all four lines poses a unique challenge in terms of player match-ups. Furthermore, it doesn’t give the opposition a break. If the Sharks can sustain the kind of offensive production from up and down the line up like we saw yesterday against Washington, then it makes San Jose much more of a threat. Plus, DeBoer would probably be happy.
The Washington Capitals went 0/4 on the power play against the Sharks — a good sign for San Jose’s penalty killers. Though the Capitals were without sniping Russian, Alexander Ovechkin, the sheer amount of talent on that lineup could have made the Sharks regret taking all four of those penalties.
Three out of four of Washington’s power plays came in the 3rd period. Despite looking rather sluggish in the early periods of the game, the Capitals power plays teetered the momentum and were, in fact, quite dangerous. The Sharks penalty kill looked up to the challenge, however, and didn’t give up any easy chances with the Capitals players swarming the Sharks net.
San Jose had a few power plays of their own and went 1/5 with the man advantage. The one power play goal belonging to Thornton early in the first. The final score reflected the Sharks offensive dominance, but with the number of power plays they had against a frustrated Washington Capitals team, they could have done a lot more damage.
The Sharks scored early and established a pace to the game. They were helped by a couple of power plays that came in the 1st period, although they only capitalized on one. Still, it’s good to see San Jose working to preserve momentum and maintain puck possession. Up to the last 10 minutes of the game, the Sharks dominated puck possession. They can’t control the pace of the game if they don’t have the puck.
Staying out of the penalty box through the majority of the 1st and 2nd periods was especially beneficial to momentum. Eventually, when the Capitals had a string of power plays in the 3rd period, they were able to take back some of that control. They generated some good chances late after those power plays, reinforcing how it was key for the Sharks to avoid taking penalties earlier in the game.
Whatever it takes for San Jose to dominate puck possession, they should do it. Puck possession goes a long way and is a lot of the reason why the Sharks were successful in the early periods against the Capitals.
The 5-0 win against the Capitals kicks off a four game road trip for San Jose. On Friday, Peter DeBoer returns to New Jersey to take on the team he coached for three seasons, but until then, we’ll just bask in afterglow of a satisfying shut-out victory (again.)