The Sharks may be 3-1 on their six-game road trip, but there are some concerns with their offense as they’ve been shut out twice in their past five games.
Let’s dig into a mailbag…
What seems to be the likeliest causes for the lack of scoring lately? (Jeff Elliott @JeffBElliott)
To me, it starts with the centermen. Joe Thornton has 11 points in 16 games, but he’s been so-so by his standards. I know he’s a pass-first guy, but he has just two goals – both into an empty net. He seems to be pulling up high in the offensive zone more, too, and a former player recently suggested to me that might be a sign he’s slowing down a bit. We’ll see. It also took Thornton about two months to get going last season, if you recall.
Logan Couture also hasn’t played up to his standards with eight points (3g, 5a) in 16 games. Two of his goals have come on the power play, while the other is an empty netter. Chris Tierney is someone I expected to take another step this season, and considering he started the year as the third line center, it’s probably fair to say that Pete DeBoer did, too. Although his (fourth) line has been better lately, Tierney has just four assists on the year.
When three of your starting centers have a combined zero even strength goals in a manned net that’s concerning, and it's a big reason that the Sharks are 24th in the NHL in scoring with 2.31 goals-per game.
Do you see the Sharks returning [Kevin] Labanc to the Barracuda, considering how well he has played? (Drew Cormier @DrewCormier)
Unless something drastic happens or there are any more injuries, I would lean towards reassigning Kevin Labanc back to the Barracuda at the end of the road trip. That’s not to suggest he’s been bad, but lately he’s been spending some time on the fourth line, including on Tuesday in the Sharks’ 1-0 loss when coach Pete DeBoer was desperately searching for offense.
Further, Labanc is scoreless in four games, and with a young player you really want to err on the side of caution in terms of his confidence. If that scoreless streak stretches to eight or nine games, it could really have a negative effect. Let him go back to the AHL where he’s playing big minutes as one of the most skilled offensive players on the Barracuda roster, and with the knowledge that he’s gained from his taste of the NHL.
What's the feel on [Barclay] Goodrow re: Sharks vs. Barracuda? Just the logjam on the Sharks holding him down? (Jim Stamper @DesertCatfish7)
I expected Goodrow would make the Sharks out of camp at the expense of one of the veterans like Matt Nieto or Tommy Wingels, but that didn’t happen, of course. Your notion about it being a logjam is correct, at least according to Barracuda coach Roy Sommer when I spoke to him last week.
“Goodrow had a really good camp,” Sommer said on Nov. 9. “He’s playing well down here. The only reason he was down here was because of numbers, from what I was told. It’s a deep pool.”
I have little doubt that Goodrow will play at least some NHL games this season. He’s off to a good start with six goals in nine AHL games, and considering Nieto has seemingly fallen out of favor with the coaching staff and his time with the organization is quite possibly winding down, perhaps it’s time to give Goodrow another shot – especially if Melker Karlsson misses more time with his apparent foot injury.