After the San Jose Sharks acquired all-star defenseman Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators in a blockbuster trade just weeks before the start of the 2018-2019 season. The expectations for the Sharks to succeed significantly increased. With the 2018-2019 year well into the second half, it appears that the Sharks have satisfied these high expectations.
After a 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night which included an impressive hat trick from Sharks left-winger Kevin Labanc. The Sharks have now won five straight games and are swiftly crawling up the standings in the Pacific Division. Future Hall of Fame member Joe Thornton also notched assist number 1,049 during the contest which ties the Shark with Gordie Howe for ninth most assists in NHL history according to NHL Discussion.
At the moment, the Sharks’ 33-16-7 record and 73 points sits only one point behind the Pacific Division leading Calgary Flames who have 74 points. On top of that, the Sharks also rank second in the entire Western Conference.
An impressive aspect about the Sharks’ recent winning streak is that they’ve needed to defeat tough Western Conference rivals along the way. For instance, the Sharks bested the Central Division leading Winnipeg Jets 3-2 in overtime for an exciting road victory on Tuesday night. The very next game, the Sharks took down the Flames in Calgary by a final score of 5-2 on Thursday evening.
A key factor for not only the Sharks’ five-game winning streak but also their entire season’s success can be attributed to their consistent scoring from both defensemen and forwards.
Defenseman Brent Burns currently leads the Sharks in scoring with 61 points in just 56 games. The 33-year-old is on track to capture his second straight Norris Trophy. The newly acquired Karlsson has been a solid addition for the Sharks in his inaugural season with the team. The two-time Norris Trophy winner has recorded 43 tallies in 47 contests.
As for the Sharks’ forwards, multiple individuals have been producing at impressive rates. The most surprising, yet spectacular, has been the breakout season from forward Tomas Hertl. Before this season, the 25-year-old had never registered more than 46 points. Hertl has already broken that record this year as he currently has 51 points in as many games.
After signing a hefty eight-year, $64 million contract back in June according to Bleacher Report, forward Logan Couture has continued to be an offensive powerhouse for the Sharks. The 2007 ninth-overall pick currently has 49 tallies in 56 contests.
Similar to Hertl, right-winger Timo Meier has also experienced a breakout season. After a decent rookie campaign which concluded with 36 points in 81 games. The Switzerland native has already surpassed that point total with 48 tallies in merely 53 contests. Captain Joe Pavelski has also recorded 48 points this season while left-winger Evander Kane has registered 47.
As a whole, the Sharks have been dominating the special teams category. As of right now, their power play is ranked fifth in the league with a 24.6 percent success rate with the man advantage. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Sharks’ penalty kill comes in at eighth in the NHL at 82.1 percent.
In addition, the Sharks have been able to lift the burden off of their goaltenders. They currently are tied for second least amount of shots allowed per game with 28.6.
The Sharks’ next match will be on the road against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night. With the Flames not playing again until Tuesday, a win would guarantee the Sharks first place in the Pacific Division.