Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Donskoi, Meier, Labanc: Keys to Sharks' Survival without Marleau and Thornton
How have the Sharks managed to survive the loss of Patrick Marleau all season and Joe Thornton since January 23rd? The steady rise and improvement of three players--Kevin Labanc, Timo Meier and Joonas Donskoi. Full credit goes to the Sharks leadership and the coaching of Peter DeBoer. There have been a lot of growing pains and it is not always easy to be patiend in the midst of a playoff race when the sky may or may not be falling around you. But San Jose has patiently weathered all storms this season--including doubts about the form of No.1 goaltender Martin Jones--without ever falling out of the hunt in the Pacific. Losing Marleau and not Thornton are very difficult circumstances. The sudden irrelevance of Paul Martin was another hurdle. But each time this team has been presented with a challenge, somebody has stepped in and taken the reins. Joakim Ryan has become indespinsable on the blue line and Tim Heed and Dylan DeMelo have been key contributors. It all adds up to a team that is 30-18-8 and looking pretty solid in the playoff picture. It could have been far worse. By no means are the Sharks a Western Conference juggernaut. But they have had key players make significant strides and because of that they are relevant. They may be old but there is youth in San Jose. Thanks to the rise of Meier (21), Labanc (22) and Donskoi (25), the Sharks' future looks a lot brighter than it did after last season's playoff loss to Edmonton.