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Lay off Patrick Marleau

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San Jose Sharks Captain Patrick Marleau has been taking a lot of flak for his play this year, and it's true, it all you looked at were his most basic stats, it doesn't seem like he's having a good year:

YEAR TEAM GP G A PTS SOG SPCT ESG ESA PPG PPA
2005-2006 SAN 82 34 52 86 260 13.1 14 28 20 24
2006-2007 SAN 77 32 46 78 180 17.8 18 23 14 23
2007-2008 SAN 24 4 7 11 46 8.7 4 3 0 4

But we can't honestly believe Marleau will continue to score on just 8.7% of his shots, half of his career level, can we? When questioned by the San Jose Mercury News, Marleau doesn't believe it:

"The puck just isn't going into the net," Marleau said. "It's just one of those things that comes and goes. But it's not going to stay this way..."

One thing Marleau does exceedingly well is draw penalties. He was the best in the league (per 60 minutes) last season, and he's the best this season. And it's not even close. He draws penalties with speed and great moves - and that hasn't changed. There is no reason to think Marleau won't rack up a ton of points both at even-strength and on the power-play going forward.