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THN.com Blog: Sinking Sharks?

Nathan Gerbe and the Buffalo Sabres beat Evgeni Nabokov and the San Jose Sharks 6-5 in a shootout Friday night. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Nathan Gerbe and the Buffalo Sabres beat Evgeni Nabokov and the San Jose Sharks 6-5 in a shootout Friday night. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

The San Jose Sharks are picking up points in virtually every game they play.

They hold a 20-plus point lead in the Pacific Division. They just beat the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins in Joe Thornton's first full game back in Boston. And they remain ahead of the Detroit Red Wings in the race for the Western Conference crown, with a few games in hand for good measure.

But there's no denying the mighty Sharks are struggling through their toughest segment of the schedule so far this season. San Jose has just one win in its past six games; on the flip side, the Sharks also managed to pick up an extra four points courtesy of an overtime loss and three shootout defeats.

The Sharks visit New Jersey on Sunday to conclude a season-long five-game road trip; so far, they're 1-0-3 to contribute to their six-game 1-1-4 slide (if six points in six games can truly be considered a "slide").

When they get back to HP Pavilion, the Sharks will be looking to turn around a two-game mini-skid at home; before they hit the road, they fell 4-3 in a shootout to Carolina on Feb. 5 and 4-2 to Chicago on Jan. 31.

They'll get a little help from the schedule, at least, as the Sharks host the Oilers, Kings and Thrashers in consecutive games this week. The Oilers moved into eighth place in the tight Western Conference with a win Saturday night, but Los Angeles and Atlanta languish in non-playoff positions.

Plus, overall, San Jose is still 23-2-3 at home. And 14-5-6 on the road. So things will probably be OK in San Jose.

BEST OF THE REST
The New Jersey Devils are 12-2-0 in their past 14 games, including 9-2-0 with Brendan Shanahan (three goals, five points) in the lineup. How much better can Martin Brodeur really make them?…

Stop me if you've heard this one before, but Philadelphia is an incredible plus-13 in shorthanded goals – the Flyers lead the league with 13 shorties and have given up the fewest, zero (which is very few, indeed). Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Simon Gagne are tied for the NHL lead with four shorthanded goals; the other NHLer with four SHG is Chicago rookie Kris Versteeg…

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While Alex Ovechkin was exploding to the NHL goal-scoring lead – he's up to 38 and counting – New Jersey's Zach Parise quietly slid into contention with 34 goals. The Devils left winger has 12 markers in his past 17 games…

Congratulations, Mike Green. Eight straight games with a goal to set a record for defensemen; that's almost Ovechkinian in its stature. But who knew Mike O'Connell held the old record of seven straight games with a goal?…
 
More than half of the top 30 shooters in the NHL, as ranked by shooting percentage, take fewer than two shots per game (on average). Sixteen out of the top 30, to be precise, shoot it lethally, but rarely. Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom leads the NHL with a 23.7 shooting percentage (14 goals on 59 shots), but averages only 1.5 shots per game. Rob Niedermayer has 11 goals on 65 shots (16.9 percent; tied for 23rd), but averages merely 1.2 shots per game. Only two players in the top 30, Alexander Semin (3.1) and Thomas Vanek (3.0), average at least three shots per game…

So, any idea who's tied for the NHL rookie goal-scoring lead? Dallas' James Neal and Anaheim's Bobby Ryan, with 18 goals, of course. And right behind them is St. Louis' Patrik Berglund with 16.

Sam McCaig, the editor of the The Ultimate Book of Hockey Lists, is The Hockey News' senior copy editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears every weekend and his column, From The Point, appears regularly.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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