What’s left to say about the San Jose Sharks after another disappointing loss?
Up 2-0, they gave up five unanswered goals last night to drop a 5-2 decision to Arizona.
Of course, the Sharks line-up was comprised mostly of younger players, as they audition talent for next year. And that inexperience, as you might expect, flashed skill but also displayed some poor judgment. But let’s focus on the positive in this space – here are a few small plays from the youngsters that I liked – and let’s hope the kids iron out more of the negatives by next season.
“We’re just looking for some more consistency from all those guys,” Bob Boughner said.
More positive than negative from the youngsters next year might turn a 5-2 loss into a 5-2 victory.
Barabanov on the Forecheck
For a smallish skill forward, Alexander Barabanov has been more effective on the forecheck than expected.
Barabanov (94) lifts Victor Soderstrom’s stick and gets body position on the young defenseman. It’s worth noting that Soderstrom (77) is just 5-foot-11 and a very raw 20.
Perhaps more impressive is Barabanov’s pass through Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23), right into Evander Kane’s (9) wheelhouse. Of course, the 26-year-old Russian is no youngster, but that’s a high-skill play to get a perfect pass through a defenseman who knows exactly what you’re trying to do.
Ekman-Larsson has a clear headstart, but Noah Gregor (73) beats him up the ice to negate the icing.
These are small plays that can add up for a team – a waved-off icing means better ice position for the San Jose Sharks, which can lead to winning results.
The 22-year-old Gregor is a fantastic example of a player whose attributes will really shine, once the flaws in his game become less obvious.
True Along the Wall
The reverse image of Gregor, Alexander True will never wow with his feet. But if he can get better there – even get himself to NHL-average – his abilities elsewhere can make him a very useful forward.
True (70), along the wall, protects the puck with his 6-foot-5 frame as Alex Goligoski (33) pinches. True continues to protect with John Hayden (15) double-teaming him – then the big centerman makes a quick, crafty turn, leaving an overaggressive Hayden in the dust. True then indirects the puck through Goligoski, runs over the Coyotes defenseman, and now Ivan Chekhovich (82) has an easy exit.
True’s combination of size, strength, and smarts will play in this league – if his feet can catch up a bit.
Here’s a veteran play from the 22-year-old Mario Ferraro.
Down two men, Ferraro uses his quick feet to get to a dump-in first – that’s not a puck that a lot of the San Jose Sharks defensemen would’ve got to – then, instead of rushing the puck, he holds, waits for Clayton Keller (9) to fly by. The sophomore blueliner then reverses and clears.
This is a great example of Ferraro playing fast and slow. We know the youngster, with his frantic style, is always going a 100 miles per hour. But knowing when to slow things down a little from time to time will make Ferraro, who’s already handling top-four minutes, even more effective.
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