Sharks observations: Rookies show out in season opener vs. Jets


What we learned from Sharks’ season-opening win over Jets originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Nobody is planning the parade route in downtown San Jose just yet, but the Sharks started their 31st season of hockey with a bang Saturday night. Here are some of the takeaways from San Jose’s season-opening 4-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets.

That was the exact kind of game the Sharks lost last year and the year before.

Down by two within the first 21 minutes, the outcome was looking bleak for San Jose. Not to say they were playing poorly, but clearly weren’t the better team. And recently, that’s usually when things would unravel further. However last night, the Sharks turned the tide with statement moments: a shorthanded goal to get them on the board, and a response fight that somewhat felt like a precursor to the next three San Jose goals.

Last year, the Sharks didn’t record their first fighting major until 20 games in.

Saturday night, Jake Middleton didn’t even get halfway through the game to square up with Logan Stanley after Rudolfs Balcers absorbed an unfavorable hit. Dropping the gloves isn’t necessarily tied to just one situation, but the fact that the Sharks of old let so many things go, could have been a bigger picture indication of their allegiance to one another. During exhibition games it was widely observed and noted: this team carried a little more confidence and cohesion as a group, and that seemed to be on display already in their season opener.

The youthful contributions were hard to miss.

From Jasper Weatherby’s first NHL goal to William Eklund’s first NHL assist, to Jonathan Dahlen almost getting one past Connor Hellebuyck’s glove, it was rewarding to see San Jose’s youthful core experience instant success. It’s still going to be a long season and playing the long game 81 more times for all the rookies in Teal, but an early dose of confidence could go a long way towards how they establish themselves in the NHL. This was an area of struggle for the Sharks in recent years, trusting young players who did not instantly or regularly provide predictable results.

RELATED: Sharks’ rookies have major impact in season-opening win

The Sharks won two key battles they regularly lost last season: faceoffs and the power play.

San Jose won a decisive 59% of draws including a 6-of-7 effort by Tomas Hertl, and 13-of-21 won by Logan Couture. Those are marks by the top two centermen the team would like to see more of on a consistent basis. In addition, the Sharks scored two power play goals and created chances and momentum almost every time they jumped on the man advantage. A stark contrast from the Sharks of last season, who finished 29th in the NHL on the Power Play.

Adin Hill made just his 42nd NHL start, and must have felt some emotions early on.

After a full 60 minutes, his effort gave the Sharks every opportunity to win the game. It wasn’t until 6:31 left in the game when Winnipeg got their third and final marker of the night, meaning that for most of the battle, Hill had held the Jets to that famous “two or fewer” plateau, which usually determines a Sharks’ outcome. Hill also impressively fended the Jets off during the final minutes when they pulled Hellebuyck and gained an extra attacker. Overall it may not be a game that is highlighted on his resume, but all things considered, with a new team in a new situation – it was definitely a good place to start.

Source: Yahoo Sports

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