The usual suspects sit atop the scoring chart for the Sharks. Thornton and Heatley lead the way with 5 points a piece while Marleau and Setoguchi sit right behind them with 3 each. Blake and Boyle can certainly bring it from the blueline as well. This Sharks 'O' packs some bite, at least one paper, but so far it hasn't translated to much success in the win column as they are 1-2-0 through 3 games.
The Jackets offense is off to a nice start after 2 games. They've racked up 7 goals and have gotten contributions from a lot of folks throughout the lineup. Six different Jackets have scored those 7 goals. Currently both Klesla (yes I said Klesla) and Rick Nash top the chart with 3 points a piece. The good news is that they've won games with out a goal from Nash and without Derick Brassard figuring into the scoring.... yet. It's early but it certainly looks like there is a lot of scoring depth, especially in the forward corps.
The question for me is can the Jackets shut down the Heatley-Thornton-Setoguchi line? The Dispatch mentions the Juice-Vermette-Nash line going against them but don't we have a checking line for that? Furthermore San Jose has the last change since they are at home -- if I'm them I'm trying to match up against Filatov-Brassard-Voracek all night long.
Edge: San Jose
Here is an interesting stat. So far the Sharks are only giving up 25 shots per game (3rd best) while the Jackets have given up a whopping 38 (5th worst).
However the Jackets have only given up 4 goals in 2 games while the Sharks have given up 12 over 3.
I haven't watched any of the Sharks games to date but based on stats alone that appears to be major goaltending problem in San Jose. It's either that or the chances the Sharks are giving up are major breakdowns from the forwards on back that lead to quality chances against.
The Jackets defensively have gotten caught scrambling around in their end their fair share of times through the first two games. I've also seen a lot of odd man rushes against - especially 3 on 2 - that are uncharacteristic of this squad. They have been bailed out man times through 2 games by Mase but need to tighten up. That should come with more play. They have been very good at shot blocking and playing physical.
I'm gonna give this a push b/c I don't think the Jackets can underestimate this defense... I just think the Sharks goaltending has been that bad.
Mase is currently carrying a 2.00 GAA (7th in NHL) and a .947 Save % (5th in NHL).
Nabokov is at a 3.95 GAA (33rd in NHL) .846 Save % (36th in NHL).
Nabokov has been horrendous. Let's hope he doesn't find his game against the Jackets. Heck they may just start their backup.
The Sharks are cranking away at a 37.5% conversion rate versus a 16.7% for the Jackets on the PP. That 1st PP unit of Heatley-Thornton-Setoguchi-Boyle-Blake is one of the best in the league.
On the PK the Jackets check in at 7th best in the league with a 85.7% kill while the Sharks are 11th at 80%.
You know what they say, your goaltender has to be the best killer and Mase will need to be on his game to shutdown the Sharks #1 unit.
Another home opener for the Jackets. The Sharks were damn near unbeatable last year on their home ice losing only 5 times at home. Yeah, big challenge.
Matchups are going to be absolutely key for the Jackets.
The Jackets will look to get the Pahlsson and Vermette lines out there as often as they can against the Thornton line.
The line of Filatov-Brassard-Voracek looks like great fun on paper but how much will Hitch use em? Better yet how long will that line stay in tact? He isn't going to start many puck drops with them as San Jose will salivate at the chance to get their top line matched up against them. They should see plenty of even strength and PP time through the first 2 periods and if the game is close it'll be Torres up and Filatov to the bench.
This game could be a route-in-waiting but as we learned in Vancouver, that is why they play the game!