FTF Regular Season Cheat Sheet: Line Two
The season is just around the corner (never really understood that phrasing, as time is linear and all), and we thought it would be great to give you a quick rundown on the roster, with a little blurb on each player. If you feel like we've covered this before, well, we have. But we're going to expand on it a little, include the stories that we've written on the players over the past year and give our input on what we expect next season. We don't know exactly how the lines will shake out yet, but here's what WTC gave us for Sunday's game against Phoenix.
Final cuts on Tuesday. God save us all.
#12 / Center / San Jose Sharks
Sep 15, 1979
Previous FTF Coverage: Who Should Take Over the Captaincy (Mr. Plank/TCY/Captain Crunch), The Journey (Mr. Plank), The Morning After: Marleau Remains A Shark (Mr. Plank)
Our two cents:
Coming off a tumultuous offseason filled with trade rumors, a removal of the C, being left off the season tickets, and portions of the fanbase calling for his head, it's safe to say Patrick Marleau will be under the microscope for the umpteenth time this season. No matter how much things change, they always do stay the same.
A career high 38 goals probably won't be in the cards again this year for number twelve considering he'll be seeing a slight dip in minutes and won't be playing alongside Joe Thornton, but the question we pose today is this- will it even matter? Line two is now the de facto shutdown line, as it boasts two of the best two way forwards in the game (Pavelski & Marleau). Concurrently, this gameplan will open up a lot of space for Thornton & Co. to put their requisite pucks in the net, as well as open up space for line three. It's not unreasonable to think that in those shifts (the current hope is that they see roughly 65% against top forwards, with lines three and one splitting the rest of the duties) will be able to, at minimum, hold serve.
Call it the trickle down effect- the opportunities trickle down the lineup, and the micturation trickles down your pantalones.
#8 / Center / San Jose Sharks
Jul 11, 1984
Previous FTF Coverage: Who Should Take Over the Captaincy (Mr. Plank/TCY/Captain Crunch)
Our two cents:
Joe Pavelski is one of the best two-way forwards in the game, and as we mentioned above, being paired with Patrick Marleau should cause headaches for opposing teams all season long. A fan favorite (as well as Captaincy candidate), what Pavs lacks in size he makes up for in hockey IQ and an ability to find the soft spots in the defense. His skating ability could use some improvement, but other than that Pavs is going to provide you with everything you expect out of your second line center and more.
He's solid from the dot, and might even see a slight increase in those numbers this season considering he'll be able to cheat more with the knowledge that Marleau will be his replacement if he gets kicked. He's going to get you some dirty goals below the hash marks. He's going to cycle the puck well with Clowe and Marleau. He's going to provide leadership. He's going to set up his linemates with smart and tasteful passes. He's going to kill penalties with passion. He's won at every level of hockey he's played at.
Except the big one of course. Heading into a contract year, we think there's going to be that little extra oomph in the tank.
#29 / Left Wing / San Jose Sharks
Sep 30, 1982
Previous FTF Coverage: RFA of the Day: Ryane Clowe
Our two cents:
The concerns with Clowe have been well chronicled over the course of this offseason- a tendency at the end of last year to occupy the sideboards a la 07-08 Joe Thornton, his middling skating ability, a tendency to stop moving his feet when receiving a breakout pass at the red line (always looking for that cross ice feed), and a history of injury troubles.
That being said, Clowe is an above average forward and will be playing with Patrick Marleau, an obvious improvement over Milan Michalek. The potential is there to improve on his 5v5 numbers, the next step for the physical power forward. We wouldn't go as far to say that he's a power play specialist, but a mere 11 even strength goals on a team that had a berevity of trouble in that department at the end of last season isn't going to justify a $3.625 M cap hit- the roster's salary structure going forward won't allow it.
The hope is that Clowe will be willing to bull his way to the net next season and cash in on the rebounds Marleau's shot will produce. Improving his even strength game in the scoring department will go a long way into solidifying San Jose's top six as an elite force in the league.