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San Jose’s new scoring lines could have heads spinning

Jul 9, 2011, 1:30 PM EDT

Martin Havalt Getty Images

With it being summer and training camps being just a couple of months away in September, it gives us all stuff to ponder and wonder about. In the case of the San Jose Sharks after their summertime blockbuster overhaul, the subtractions of Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi will give the Sharks a distinctly different look up front.

The addition of Martin Havlat to the Sharks in the headline deal for Heatley means the Sharks are going to shift things in ways that only video game players have really known before. After all, when you’ve got two lines of top talent mixing and matching the lines is more fun than anything else.

David Pollak of Working The Corners day dreams a little bit himself and offers up his take on what the top two lines could look like.

Marleau-Thornton-Pavelski

Clowe-Couture-Havlat

Yeah, I thought that Marty Havlat might be penciled in on right wing alongside Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, too. But the idea is to put a speed threat on each of the two lines and that turns into the above set-up — Marleau on one line, Havlat on the other — which also has the benefit of keeping Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe side-by-side.

That’s a more than curious take and one that keeps last year’s Calder Trophy finalist Logan Couture as the center on the second line. That’s a curious move because Sharks GM Doug Wilson had another guy in mind for the centering job on the second line after acquiring Havlat, Brent Burns, as well as Michal Handzus through free agency.

“When we did the (Brent) Burns deal, we got the top-line defenseman we were looking for, but we lost some of the speed we need in our top-six forwards,” Wilson said. “We could move Joe Pavelski into our top six, which is where he belongs anyway, and we were able to fill his spot when he signed (Michal) Handzus, but we still didn’t have the speed guy we needed.”

Pavelski centering the second line would mean putting Couture on the wing and then finding someone else to play on the right wing with Marleau and Thornton. That’s where Martin Havlat would likely fit in well, but with Havlat being more of a playmaker than a goal scorer, that would make a line of Marleau-Thornton-Havlat lean heavily on Marleau to do the heavy lifting scoring goals. That said, with that much talent it’s tough to feel bad for the Sharks and when you can set up lines that look like this, sympathy will be hard to find:

Marleau-Thornton-Havlat

Clowe-Pavelski-Couture

The curious part of this arrangement is that of those six players, four of them are capable of playing center in Marleau, Thornton, Pavelski, and Couture. One thing is for sure in San Jose, they’re going to score plenty of goals and regardless of what arrangement they opt to go with, they figure to be at or near the top of the Western Conference again in 2011-2012.

  1. trbowman - Jul 9, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    San Jose Chokes.

  2. jrod691 - Jul 9, 2011 at 5:02 PM

    As a sharks fan I wish I could disagree with the above comment but there is no denying this team has choked itself oit of the playoffs every year since the lockout. Im glad to see that there were some real changes this offseason. Hopefully it makes a difference. I havent seen burns play much but if he is as good defensively as ive heard he is offensively this would likely be the best sharks team yet. If he isnt a top flight player in his own zone were noy any better than the 08 team, and very likely worse.

  3. dreadpiratesteve - Jul 9, 2011 at 7:07 PM

    True, but no one chokes like a Canuck!

  4. eastbayfil - Jul 10, 2011 at 12:54 AM

    I’m not hearing this ‘choke” stuff with the sharks anymore. Making the western conference finals two years in a row is not choking-I know they weren’t real competitive series- but the blackhawks and canucks were both better, deeper teams. Losing to a better team in the conference finals is not choking. The sharks core still has a lot of years of prime left-and with the cap space opened up by the heatley trade the sharks have a chance to have the depth those teams had. Call them chokers if you want-but there are about 25 franchises in the league that would love to choke like the sharks year after year.

    • jrod691 - Jul 10, 2011 at 2:12 AM

      Sorry but getting swept in a series when you’re the higher seed (even though Chicago was clearly better) is choking.

      Losing a series where you had the lead in 3 out of the four games you lost, and that 4th game was lost because of the three separate 5 on 3 penalties in under two minutes, is choking.

      • greatminnesotasportsmind - Jul 10, 2011 at 2:16 AM

        It’s not choking in the Conference Finals, even if they were swept. Apparently you forgot they were swept by the Blackhawks who WON the Stanley Cup.

      • eastbayfil - Jul 10, 2011 at 2:28 AM

        Choking? Or losing? There is a difference. Losing to Anaheim in the first round the year before was choking. How can you say the seeding is really relevant when you admit the other team was better? You are a hockey fan I assume? You do know how hard getting through the Stanley Cup playoffs are? I know they had some bad showings in the playoffs but choking implies some sort of serious shortcoming-all I’m saying is making it to the final four two years in a row should erase the tag of being chokers-they should earn more of a tag of ‘team on the verge’ now.

      • jrod691 - Jul 10, 2011 at 11:51 AM

        “all I’m saying is making it to the final four two years in a row should erase the tag of being chokers-they should earn more of a tag of ‘team on the verge’ now.”

        Ya it should, and I agree that they are a ‘team on the verge’, and I agree that there is a difference between losing and choking. That is exactly why I think that I still view the Sharks as chockers–it’s the way they lost that makes me say it was a choke job– The Vancouver series more than the Blackhawks though. In my view, Thornton has completely erased the choker label on himself with his recent transformation, but the team as a whole hasn’t quite shaked that label yet.

        And I should also clarify that in the Hawks series I put the label of Choker on McClellan more than the players (that isn’t to say that several players failed to perform, but I think a lot of it had to do with their offensive and defensive strategy). He failed to make a single offensive or defensive adjustment through the whole series. He thought he was still playing Detroit and didn’t realize that he had been figured out.

        Yes, I am a hockey fan and yes, I know how hard it is to get through the playoffs, but when was the last time the Sharks put up a really good fight in a series they lost? The answer — The Dallas series in the 08 playoffs. Before that it was the Calgary series in 04. So you are right on about the difference between choking and losing, and it is the way that the Sharks have played in their elimination series the last two years that makes me say that the have not yet rid themselves of the choker label. Hopefully they can do it this year, and NO – they don’t need to win the cup to do it.

    • jpelle82 - Jul 15, 2011 at 1:52 PM

      its choking when the big lights of the finals cause you to play poorly and get swept. they were not themselves and got owned.

  5. polegojim - Jul 10, 2011 at 11:23 AM

    Regular season ‘wonders’ who have failed to put up the mental toughness to finish and bring home the STANLEY Cup. Evidently, the Presidents Cup is enough for them – enjoy.

  6. dreadpiratesteve - Jul 10, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    Now Jim, Don’t go trashing my Sharks like that. It’s poor sportsmanship. Don’t get your feathers all in a ruffle cuz my Sharks bounced your Wings 2 years in a row…

    All trash talk aside. I hope Detroit doesn’t get relocated to the East. I’ve come to really enjoy the annual Det/SJ WCSF matchup. Hard fought games every time.

    • jasncondit - Jul 10, 2011 at 9:32 PM

      Dreadpiratessteve – Ya you bounced us 2 years in a row but winning a cup then going back to the finals wore us out. When you’ve won a cup or actually more than 1 then you can take pride in bouncing us from the playoffs. Truth is, we’ll get another before your team does, and maybe 3 or 4 if we end up in the East. Cause we all know a fresh Wings team is a killer, and not having to fly 5-6 hours every other night will make us even better!

    • polegojim - Jul 11, 2011 at 2:35 AM

      Steve – Yes, me too. Even though the Wings have been less then their best the past few years, I’d still like to think we’ve been beaten by the ‘best’, but the Sharks won’t live up to that!

      I wanted San Jose to win the Cup for that strategic reasoning. No way that Vancouver was ‘the better team’ this year, nor the Blackhawks last year. That’s my ‘selfish’ rub on the Sharks mental collapses.

  7. dreadpiratesteve - Jul 10, 2011 at 10:48 PM

    It will be SO beneficial for DET to be in the East. The top East teams may be good (BOS, PHI, WAS) but the West just seems tougher top to bottom IMO.

    We won’t count Edmonton…

  8. dreadpiratesteve - Jul 11, 2011 at 11:23 AM

    Last year SJ was not the better team. Chicago was better. And healthier. This year, the Sharks did it to themselves going 7 with DET. The could have beaten VAN had they closed out the DET series in 4 or 5 like they should have but they let the Wings linger around and that was their demise. Thornton hurt his shoulder in Game 6 and they simply had to play more tough games than they should have and they played a much fresher VAN team as a result and got beaten. I don’t see the Canucks making a run like last year again though. The more I see of that team the less I impressed by them.

    • polegojim - Jul 14, 2011 at 9:49 AM

      But they ‘proved’ not to be, but going into it, they were top favorites.

      Definitely were this year, but I agree, Detroit took it out of them. That’s Detroits game, grind it out and wear you down. They can rip your heart clean out. Just when you’re about to put your foot on their neck, they flip you over, punch you in the mouth, and knock out a few teeth.

  9. andyreidisfat - Jul 16, 2011 at 2:34 AM

    I know this comment is going to hurt the feelings of some Detroit fans but it is the truth. If Detroit moves to the East they will never win a cup with the current team. Detroit is one of the most talented teams in the league no doubt, but, they are also injury prone. And if you think that team is going to survive the eastern conference your out of your mind. All the big fast tough teams in the East may not have the skill top to bottom that Detroit has but they will just beat detroit up. By mid season Detroit will have half that team on IR. Wings fans should pray they stay in the west where their team is built to play and you just might win many cups because that team when healthy is tough to beat. But in the East they will be a constant 1st round exit mostly because they don’t have the toughness.

    That all being said I think it might be more fair to the wings to not have to fly so much but at the same time i think Nashville has a bigger beef and should be the team that moves to the East. Also As a hockey fan I would miss dertroit playing all their rivals. None of witch play in the east. Also Columbus (even though they shouldn’t have a team in the first place) is also closer to the east than Detroit. I think Detroit stays put next year in the west as it should be.. Be sides with if detroit came to the east and brings Daytsuk spelling* East then the top 5 players will all play in the east. It would also make the 5 of the top 7 teams in the east.

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