The San Jose Sharks opened their season with a familiar scene from last year. A loss. While the new-look Sharks did compete for about half the game, Vegas did show why they are the defending Stanley Cup Champions and dispatched the rebuilding team late in the second. Here are three observations from the game.
Filip Zadina could be a nice addition
Filip Zadina was the only Shark to hit the back of the net. He crashed the net, gathered the puck, spun around, and put it past Logan Thompson. While it’s nice to see Zadina make an immediate impact on the scoring sheet, it’s what else he can add to the Sharks that should be very enticing to San Jose.
Zadina played in all situations, and his penalty killing was impressive. He was active and created pressure on the point, and made sure that Vegas’ power play could never get set. With Logan Couture sidelined indefinitely, Head Coach David Quinn is looking for people to step up on the Sharks penalty kill. If Zadina can establish himself in this role and continue contributing on the score sheet, the 23-year-old could be a big addition to Team Teal. Zadina has shown flashes in his time with the Detroit Red Wings, but injuries have derailed his career to this point. But it was a nice debut.
The power play is chaotic
With no clear answer to who takes over for Erik Karlsson after his trade to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Sharks have decided to trout out a five-forward unit. Mikael Granlund is running the point, and as one would expect with a forward playing in a defenseman’s role, it was chaotic. The Sharks did manage to create some solid chances in their first power play, but Vegas was very aggressive in trying to pressure Granlund on the point on the Sharks’ second opportunity. On the second power play, Vegas was able to create some short-handed opportunities and this will have to be something the Sharks live without until Henry Thrun is ready to run the unit.
The second unit was pretty impressive except for one person. With Thrun, Zadina, William Eklund, Thomas Borldeleau, and Luke Kunin together, they did create some good chances. Last year, Quinn relied on the top unit to do everything. If the second unit continues to put together strong shifts, is he going to try and have a more even distribution of minutes between the two units?
William Eklund needs another winger
The Eklund-Granlund-Kunin line was the Sharks’ second line, and while the analytics say they were very poor, 27.78% CF in nearly eleven minutes of ice time. They did have a lot of near misses. Eklund created plenty of opportunities that Kunin missed. Yes, it was Luke Kunin’s first real action since his ACL surgery in December, but the Sharks are going to struggle to score goals this season, and wasting any opportunities they get is going to make a long season drag on even longer.
Kevin Labanc was a healthy scratch in tonight’s game, but he could be an option on the wing. Labanc is a noted scorer with trouble staying out of the proverbial doghouse. But Labanc should add some scoring pop to a line with two good passers. While Kunin is relied on to play penalty kill, several options exist to take that role, including Eklund potentially. The season’s success is based on how well the Sharks can develop Eklund, and playing him with a scoring threat can be a massive boost to him and the Sharks.