I've seen a lot of posts from both Sharks fans and fans of other teams writing off our good start by comparing it to our 7-0 start last year and talking about how we would go on to lose the next 7 in a row. I figured it'd be good to debunk the idea that this hot start is like last year's. Last year we started the year with the PP shooting the lights out, but the Sharks getting their teeth kicked in at even strength. Below is a graph of the Sharks' Fenwick Close last season, which is the best indicator of future performance (and almost always shows which team dictated the play at even strength at any given game): As you can see, over the first couple of weeks, coincidentally the first 7 or so games, the Sharks were quite outplayed at even strength. Honestly, I was predicting that they'd fall back to earth and fast. There were several warning signs, the poor 5v5 possession numbers just one of them. In the first 7 games of last season, the Sharks scored 27 goals (not counting shootouts, of course, but counting EN because I'm too lazy to sort though out). Of those 27 goals, 12 of them were on the PP. Even more alarming is that of the 27 goals, either Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau or both scored a point on 18 of them, a ridiculous 67% of them. Comparatively, through the first 4 games of this season, the Sharks have scored 21 goals. 1 of them was short-handed and 2 were empty nets. That's 14 goals at even strength and 4 on the powerplay by my count. So 5-on-5 scoring is insanely improved, and 5v5 scoring is much more sustainable over the long-run than PP scoring. Of course, the Sharks' team on-ice shooting percentage will fall back to earth, but they are still leading the league in offensive stats that aren't goals (shots and shot attempts). The other good thing is that on the 21 goals, Thornton and/or Marleau only have points on 6 of them. That means that the team has scored 15 goals in 4 games that have nothing to do with our two offensive leaders. And if you look at the stat sheet, everyone is getting in on the action. This kind of depth is not something we had last year, when IIRC Michal Handzus lead forwards in even strength ice time for the first couple weeks. This year, there is scoring from all 4 lines and even all 3 defensive pairs. Plus, while the Sharks' on-ice shooting percentage is 11.3%, too unsustainably high to last the whole season, it's not as high as it was at the beginning of last season, and we're scoring twice as much at even strength regardless. The Sharks lead the league in 5v5 Corsi, 5v5 Fenwick, 5v5 Shots-For percentage, 5v5 Close Corsi, 5v5 Shots-For percentage (in a landslide), and are second in 5v5 Fenwick Close. The Sharks also lead the league in shot attempts for per 60 by far. They have a top-9 that is dangerous on every single line. They have a 4th line anchored by Sheppard and Desjardins that is actually capable of popping a couple of goals and keeping the puck out of their own net. We have a top-pair of defensemen who are capable of shutting down any line in the league. We have a Vezina-caliber goaltender who looks to be continuing where he left off last spring. And despite the success, we're missing Marty Havlat and Raffi Torres, two top-6 caliber forwards, and playing two young rookies in important scoring roles. Am I saying that we're gonna continue to dominate the whole season? Of course not. Am I even saying that we're going to continue to be first in all these possession categories? Far from it. Too small a sample size to conclude anything for certain. What I am saying is that this year's start is insanely different from last year's in that last year's hot start was a total mirage, with luck and PP success covering up some important underlying issues that needed to be addressed and weren't until luck dried up and the warts were exposed, whereas this year's start has the Sharks dominating in every facet of play and putting up the underlying numbers to support the win-loss record. Be cautiously optimistic. This team has the potential to be really exciting.