Wednesday, November 30, 2011

San Jose Sharks: 5 Moves Todd McLellan Needs To Make

We shouldn't be surprised by a little inconsistency on the part of the San Jose Sharks. It seems every year this team starts off slow, then suddenly runs away with the Pacific Division.

In fact, we can almost call this business as usual for this time of year, and it seems coach Todd McLellan is thinking the same thing. Recently, he has been wayward with some of his line-up changes, with some hitting and some really missing, which has been the result as of late.

That is what type of coach McLellan is, though. He likes to experiment and experiment until he finds something that works without thought and he suddenly becomes a genius. It is what makes him one of the better coaches in the NHL.

But there are still moves that either have or have not been made this season, and he seems to be missing the calling when it comes to either keeping the moves intact or totally switching gears.

Here are some moves that need to be made in the near future for the San Jose Sharks.

Torrey Mitchell and Jamie McGinn Together on the Third Line

With McLellan entertaining the idea of splitting up Marleau and Havlat over the first three lines on offense, it is clear that Mitchell is a top candidate for a spot on Joe Thornton's top line.

Mitchell has been there once, an it seemed to fizzle after a week or so.

However, Mitchell and McGinn make up one of the more hard-working pairs on the Sharks, which is why they need to be set on either side of the veteran Handzus, who can hold steady at center.

Mitchell did hint in an interview the other day that he may be getting tired of moving around the amongst the top lines, so it may be best to position him on one line and just keep him there.

Patrick Marleau and Martin Havlat's Continued Separation

One thing that McLellan has stayed constant on is the separation of Maleau and Havlat. It is rare that we see them both out on the ice together this season.

McLellan is correct on this one, and he need to continue it, but it is Havlat's appearance on the third line that is simply not appropriate. I understand the dispersion of speed on this team, but Havlat is a top-tier player in the NHL, and he deserves a better job description.

Thomas Greiss, Not Antero Niittymaki

With Niittymaki slowly coming back from injury, and Greiss continuing to play well in net when called upon, let the conflict begin.

How can you argue with putting Greiss ahead of Niittymaki on the depth chart?

Greiss has been more than superb when in net as Niemi's back-up, and he deserved the No. 2 goalie spot.

We know what we are getting out of Greiss. We do not know what we are getting out of Niittymaki when he comes back from injury.

Jim Vandermeer Somewhere on the Defense

Colin White has been away from the team for a few games now, but it is the penalty kill and defense in general that has improved without him.

One of the reasons is Jim Vandermeer's hard work on the third line with Jason Demers. The two have seemed to click, and we can expect a gritty player like Vandermeer to continue good play in order to earn a spot on the defense for the Sharks.

That is not to say Colin White should be left out. White is far too good a player to be forgotten off a roster. Plus, San Jose could use his big, bulky body on defense.

However, Vandermeer deserves more ice time, and i think McLellan and others understand that and will reward him for an excellent job in place of White.

Get Ryane Clowe, Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski Back Together

With the recent offensive shortage, it is obvious that some changes need to be made. That is especially true on the first three lines, which recently have been a series of blind shots in the air, as far as line-ups go.

What worked in the playoffs last season, as well as in the past, is a line of Clowe, Couture and Pavelski, who have seemed to find chemistry with one another even in offensive droughts that this team seems to have every once in awhile.

Havlat seemed to work, as well, with both Clowe and Couture. but it was a change in that line that has backfired on McLellan and led this team into an offensive recession.

Go with what works, and chemistry is certainly a strong suit of the Sharks.

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