Rob Blake: San Jose Sharks Captain Heating Up at the Right Time
When the San Jose Sharks traded away Christian Ehrhoff over the offseason, many fans rejoiced. No more point shots a mile wide and no more costly turnovers, right?
Well, as the saying goes, "you never know what you had until it's gone".
And throughout most of this season, the Sharks haven't had the same offensive prowess on the blueline that they had last season.
Not only did they lose Ehrhoff's 42 points from last year, but the German native is now enjoying a career year in goals, points, and plus/minus with the Vancouver Canucks.
Combine Ehrhoff's absence from team teal's blueline with the drop in offensive production from Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Rob Blake this season, and it is no surprise why most fans out there were expecting the Sharks to acquire an offensive defenseman at the trade deadline.
Fortunately, the offense from the defense has recently began producing at last seasons levels and most of the increase in scoring can be attributed to San Jose's 40 year-old captain.
Blake, the 20 year veteran defenseman was struggling at both ends of the ice for the majority of the season.
But perhaps the first year Shark captain realized his value would come in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and was smartly coasting through most of the year.
With his play over the last five games, it doesn't seem to far-fetched to think that the former Norris Trophy winner wasn't exuding maxim effort for most of the season.
For the majority of the current campaign it looked as if Blake had aged five years since the end of last season.
Up until March 23rd, Blake was playing considerably worse than he had just a year ago.
After 61 games played this year, the Ontario native had just 21 points. In other words he was on pace for just 25 points if were he able to reach the same 73 games he played last season.
And last season, Blake registered 45 points.
A considerable drop off, don't you think?
However, over the last five games, Blake has picked up eight points (1 G, 7A = 8P) and finally seems to be showing that offensive prowess which has made him one of the highest regarded defenseman in league history.
Not only has Blake been getting pucks through to the net on a more consistent basis as of late but his shot looks to have more power behind it.
Throughout most of the season Blake's shot seemed to be missing that extra juice that has made him best known for his rocket blasts from the blueline.
Consequently, the majority of his point shots were getting blocked earlier in the season.
Now with the power back and a willingess to shoot more often, Blake has been rewarded with a much larger role in the offense.
In particular on the power-play, Blake has been jumping up in the play and even positioning himself in front of the goaltender despite his normal position being back at the right point.
By having him stationed in front of the opposing netminder from time to time, the power play naturally has more moving parts and players are continuously in motion which leads to an increase in quality scoring chances.
Blake's newfound legs in the offensive end are huge as no matter how hard he works defensively, the veteran defenseman has a difficult time keeping up with younger forwards, some of whom are just half his age.
But if Blake can continue his increased offensive role as of late, the Sharks will be much better off because they have been missing that extra boost from the blueline most of the year.
And with the playoffs just four games away, the Sharks are going to need every single skater at the top of their game.
Now while some Sharks still need to put in some work, one thing is for certain:
The captain is already at the top of his game and he couldn't of gotten there at a better time.