The Mullet to the new captain chosen by God and his children, whom I love to watch pull on the Oildrop - and not just me, but all who in their heart of hearts bleed copper and blue - because of the truth that lives in both me and you, and will unite us forever. May grace, mercy, and peace be given to you tonight by God our Father and our Redeemer in times of trouble.
It gives me great joy to see the new children walking in the truth and being rewarded by God for their efforts with late goals and victories! And now, my "Russian" friend, help me by doing what we have done for one another all along: let us love one another. And this is love, that we help one another in the standings; this is the oath that we swore to one another when I first left you, and so I write to you now with the (Oil) Kings in the midst of a few struggles, asking you to work over our Pacific foes so as to push them down the standings.
The Sharks have been one of the more dominant territorial teams in the league so far this season. Their shot differential is +7.2 per game, well clear of the Red Wings who are in second place at +4.8 per game (although the Wings have played a lot more with the lead). Most of their top nine is consistently in the black at EV, and the sometimes trio of Ryan Clowe, Joe Pavelski, and Logan Couture has been particularly dominant. Unfortunately for the Sharks, it hasn't been enough to maintain the dominant pace they set last year, and at the start of the day, the Sharks were only 11th in the official NHL standings.
Now, that standing of 11th is pretty deceiving for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the Sharks have played fewer games than some of the teams ahead of them, and are actually in a tie for 8th in terms of points percentage. Secondly, the Western Conference is currently on pace to have ten teams finish with at least 93 points, and while that's possible, it seems likely that at least one or two teams will fall back and that the Sharks projected finish of 94 points would be good enough for the second season. But still, 94 points? That's a big step back from last season, so what exactly is going wrong?
The answer is mostly goaltending. Last season the Sharks got consistently top-notch goaltending from Evgeni Nabokov (who's having a terrible season in Russia) and Thomas Greiss (who's having a terrible season in Sweden). The two combined for an overall save percentage of .920. This season, the Sharks have gotten good netminding from Antero Niittymaki, but Antti Niemi has been horrible, and the two have combined to give the Sharks an overall save percentage of .901. Based on the 596 shots the Sharks have faced so far this season, that's a difference of over eleven goals, or almost two wins through the first quarter of the season. Projected over a full season, the difference would be just under forty-six goals, or about seven and a half wins (or fifteen standings points). That's almost the whole difference right there.