Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
You may or may not have noticed by now the furious start to the season by the San Jose Sharks.
Not only are they leading the Western Conference with 46 points through 27 games played, they are also the only team in hockey who has scored 100 goals through games played on December 9th. To put that into perspective, only three other teams have reached the 90-goal mark as Detroit (95), Boston (94) and Chicago (90) have done. And if you look at the standings, all three of those teams are off to pretty good starts as well.
What may be more amazing is the fact that they have allowed a conference low 64 goals through the same time period. So, as usual, the equation still stands. Score more goals then your opponent and you'll win a lot of hockey games.
But for fantasy purposes, just score more goals. And assists. And plus/minus. And...you get it.
Watching this team play the other night against Edmonton was surely a treat. The way they skate and move the puck up the ice, applying consistent pressure on an opponent's crease really is a sight to behold. They looked to be a move ahead of the Oilers all night. And if it weren't for an outstanding performance by Dwayne Roloson the Sharks would have added two more points to the illustrious total.
The reason for this offensive explosion isn't the acquisition of a big ticket player or the call up of top talent. It's much simpler than that.
After being bounced from the NHL playoffs last spring in the second round for a second time in as many seasons, San Jose Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson decided a change was needed in the tank. So out went head coach Ron Wilson, no relation, and in came Todd McLellan, who had spent the previous three years as an assistant coach with the Red Wings.
Ron Wilson's style had always been defense first. His use of the dreaded "trap" is what has made him such a successful coach in the league. More than 500 career wins is nothing to look down your nose at. But at a certain point it gets old, as players want to score goals to win games, not lock up the neutral zone for 60 minutes and hope to score when they get the rare opportunity.
The trap not only limits your opponent from scoring goals, it limits you from scoring goals, as you spend more time on your defensive assignments instead of playing offense. And forget about taking an offensive chance.
McLellan's role in Detroit was to oversee the forwards and the Wings power play unit, which ranked as one of the best units in the league during McLellan's time in Detroit. An offensive minded coach was exactly what Doug Wilson was looking for to replace the defensive minded schemes and ideas of Ron Wilson.
Now, things are more open. Players have the ability to skate and make their own scoring chances. They're less restricted in where they have to be positioned. The game is now wide open and they can attack at will. For the players in San Jose, it must feel like that first breath of air after being underwater for a stretch.
So far, the change has paid off and then some, and it's result has even effected your fantasy hockey squad.
Any Sharks player you have, or can get your hands on, has the potential to be a valuable member of your squad for the simple reason that this team is going to score a ton of points through the remainder of the season. So as long as said player is getting enough ice time to warrant a place on your roster, being a Shark should give him the edge in any decision you are trying to make between him and any similar player.