The Sharks entered the 2017-18 season carrying more questions than assurances. Would the Sharks be able to replace the scoring of the departed Patrick Marleau? Did they have the depth and savvy in the defensive zone to play coach Pete DeBoer’s preferred style of hockey? And if they had both of those things, would they also have the reliable goaltending required to make that system work? Going into the final week of play before this weekend’s NHL All-Star Game, those big questions seemed answered — the Sharks were playing sound, productive hockey and were establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the Western Conference. Then Joe Thornton ran into teammate Mikel Boedker in Tuesday’s game against the Jets. Thornton’s MCL injury has brought all of those seemingly answered questions — all of that doubt about this Sharks team — back to the surface. It’s returned a Sharks team that entered the season at a crossroads to that fork in the road. It cannot be overstated how good the Sharks looked in the stretch leading into this weekend’s All-Star Game break. San Jose looked like a Stanley Cup contender behind Aaron Dell’s steady play in net, a rock-solid defensive system that had buy-in from the entire team, and plenty of secondary scoring to go with the strong offensive play of Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, a resurgent Brent Burns, and Thornton. A strong run in the last two weeks has put the Sharks in second place in the Pacific Division, firmly in the playoff picture heading into the second “half” of the year.
Have we seen the last of Joe Thornton in San Jose?
San Jose Mercury News | Jan 28