Sharks fans have widely held a love/hate relationship with head coach Todd McLellan in the last few seasons. They have traditionally either gotten used to the Sharks having a slow start, or experienced sporadic times when the Sharks have just appeared to randomly run out of gas. While the season is only six games old, there has been a more than noticeable change in the overall fluid play on the ice. The power play is working, and the penalty kill is more than meshing in ways that we haven’t seen in several years. The Sharks may not have made any significant changes to their player body, but their personnel changes behind the bench may be the most definitive of general manager Doug Wilson’s career since the acquisition of Joe Thornton.
The common trait we saw with the hiring of Larry Robinson and Jim Johnson is the fact that they were both well respected defensmen during their playing days, Robinson so much that he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995. The Sharks have never had much of a problem with scoring goals, at even strength that is. The power play has always been a sour subject for them, especially during the postseason.
Robinson was largely credited with the New Jersey Devils having an historic PK, giving up just 12 more goals than they scored shorthanded. While Washington’s PK finished just 21st last season, it was ranked second in Johnson’s first season with the team (2010-11) after being in the bottom half of the NHL the two previous seasons.
Again, the season is still very young, but thus far the Sharks have the hottest power play in the league, and the penalty kill continues to impress against teams like Anaheim, Vancouver and Edmonton, who carry more than a few scary goal scorers.
Wilson’s hope that these two new elements could change the teams fortunes seem to paying nothing but dividends so far.