Rewind: Unlike Sharks, Penguins looking just fine after Cup run

Rewind: Unlike Sharks, Penguins looking just fine after Cup run

SAN JOSE – The Sharks and Penguins have surely heard the phrase “Stanley Cup hangover” plenty of times since training camp began.

Metaphorically speaking, the surging Penguins look like they’re regularly tucked in before 10 p.m., well rested and energized. The Sharks look like they stayed out too late and downed a few too many Fireball shots.

Despite concluding a four-game, nine-day road trip, Pittsburgh hammered the Sharks on Saturday night at SAP Center, 5-0. It was the first appearance for the Penguins in San Jose since they lifted the Stanley Cup here on June 12, and while they look primed to try and do it again this season, the Sharks are flailing.

“A lot of hard areas of our game, we're just a step behind right now,” Joe Pavelski said.

The Sharks’ start wasn’t necessarily a bad one, as they trailed 1-0 but had a distinct territorial advantage for more than eight minutes in the opening frame. The equalizer never came, though, and Sidney Crosby scored late in the first period and again early in the second. 

San Jose essentially packed it in after that, looking decidedly sloppy and uninspired for the duration of the second, while the Penguins tacked on two more scores to make it 5-0. A meaningless third period followed.

“We came out of the first, I thought the play was even, or in our favor. The third goal was deflating, for sure,” Pete DeBoer said. “But, in this league you’ve got to find a way, and our response to that wasn’t what any of us wanted. That was probably the troubling part tonight.”

In a 3-0 hole after Crosby’s two scores, DeBoer was forced to pull Martin Jones. The Pittsburgh captain managed to bank it in off of Jones’ skate from behind the goal line for his first of the night, while the second was aided by a misplay by Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who flubbed an attempted clear right to Crosby’s stick blade.

The switch to Aaron Dell was partly to try and jolt the team to life, but it was also because Jones wasn’t at his best, DeBoer explained after the game.

But Jones, who now has just a .900 save percentage, is hardly the only Sharks player struggling. The list is long, and distinguished.

Logan Couture has just one assist in his last seven games, no even strength goals, and can’t win faceoffs. Shutdown defender Vlasic is a minus-3, while his partner, Justin Braun, is a team-worst minus-8. Joel Ward (1 goal) and Paul Martin (2 assists, minus-4) look like they're slowing down. Mikkel Boedker (2 goals) has had little effect since joining in the offseason. Chris Tierney (2 assists) was supposed to take the next step in his development this year, but hasn’t.

On Saturday, Couture let the Sharks off the hook for just one of their five goals against. To him, they were mostly preventable.

“They played well, but you look at the goals. A misplay on the first one, turnover. Sid was behind me on the second one. Third one was an unlucky bounce. We gave up a shorty; guy (Bonino) beats one of our guys (Patrick Marleau) to the net.

“That's not speed, or talent. That's wanting to compete, battle and be in the right spots. Play the game smart. That's what that is. We're way better than that.”

There’s time for them to get it together, but it had better be sooner than later, as the Sharks now embark on a difficult six-game road trip beginning on Tuesday in Washington.

“We’ve got some guys that are not at the levels they need to be at yet,” DeBoer said. “It’s early, but it’s time. The season starts to really pick up speed here. We’re obviously going on the road for some critical games. We all have to be better.”

Couture said: “To a man, everyone on this team knows they have another level to give right now.”

The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought


The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought

Jannik Hansen's game-winning goal against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday marked the first time he scored in 355 days. 

Hansen last scored on Mar. 30, 2017 against the Edmonton Oilers, his second goal with the Sharks following an in-season trade. His scoring drought, in all, lasted 44 regular season games, 50 if you include the postseason. 

How exactly does a goal-scoring drought last nearly a year? The right (wrong?) circumstances all need to come together, and that was certainly the case for Hansen for much of the last year.

For one, the Danish forward was in and out of the lineup. San Jose played 83 regular season and postseason games between Hansen's second and third goals, and he did not play in 33 of those games. Plenty of players have had rough 50-game stretches, and that's often without not playing for weeks at a time, as Hansen has done a couple of times this season. 

When Hansen did draw into the lineup this year, however, he wasn't generating offense at the same rate he had in the past. This season, Hansen's five-on-five shot rate (6.19 shots per 60 minutes), shot attempt rate (10.53 individual corsi per 60), and unblocked shot attempt rate (8.95 individual fenwick per 60) were all down from his career averages, according to Corsica Hockey. 

That decline is natural, considering Hansen turned 32 just six days ago. Those rates were not down enough, however, to expect him to fail to score in his first 39 appearances this season. Naturally, a long run of bad luck played a big role in Hansen's dry spell.

Hansen went 0-for-66 in shots over the 50 consecutive regular season and playoff games in which he did not score. He's a career 11-percent shooter, and had he shot at his career average, he would have scored seven goals during that time. That feels about right for a bottom-six forward. 

In many ways, all of these factors fed into one another. Hansen wasn't generating shots or scoring, then was scratched, then couldn't find the back of the net when he returned and was scratched again. All the while, fellow fourth-liners Marcus Sorensen (26.7 percent shooting percentage this season), Joel Ward (14.3 percent) and Barclay Goodrow (13.2 percent) were converting on their chances, forcing Peter DeBoer's hand. 

His possession play's been solid all season (50.74 percent corsi-for, per Natural Stat Trick), but the offense hasn't followed. When it does, as was the case Tuesday night, he can be an effective fourth-line forward, and the goal on Tuesday bought him more time to prove it. 

Sharks blow out Devils for season-high fifth straight win

Sharks blow out Devils for season-high fifth straight win


SAN JOSE -- Jannik Hansen scored his first goal of the season and fellow fourth-liners Eric Fehr and Barclay Goodrow also scored to help the San Jose Sharks win their season-high fifth straight game, 6-2 over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

Logan Couture added his 30th goal of the season, and Joe Pavelski and Mikkel Boedker also scored to give the Sharks a four-point lead over third-place Los Angeles in the Pacific Division with one game in hand.

Brent Burns added three assists and Martin Jones made 26 saves.

The scoring barrage by San Jose spoiled Cory Schneider's return to net for the Devils. Schneider allowed four goals on 14 shots before getting pulled midway through the second period of his first start since March 8. Schneider has lost 11 starts in a row since his last win for the Devils on Dec. 27.

Taylor Hall scored his 32nd goal of the season and Blake Coleman also scored for the Devils, who lead Florida by just one point in the race for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers have two games in hand.

After Hansen and Fehr scored in the first period, Goodrow chipped one in midway through the second period on a surprising night of scoring from the fourth line when he beat Schneider on a 2-on-1.

Couture then scored 40 seconds later on San Jose's first shot against Keith Kinkaid for his third career 30-goal season. Boedker added San Jose's second power-play goal of the night late in the second and the rout was on.

The Sharks got off to a fast start in their first game back from a 3-0 Canadian road trip, scoring three goals in the first period and killing 1:20 of a two-man advantage for New Jersey.

The teams traded goals to start with Fehr beating Schneider over the shoulder from a bad angle and Hall answering when he stole a bouncing puck from Justin Braunand beat Jones with a quick shot.

San Jose then scored twice in a span of less than three minutes to take the lead. Pavelski tipped in a shot from Kevin Labanc on the power play to give the Sharks the lead.

Then after Jones denied Damon Severson from in close at one end, Dylan DeMelo sent a long pass that Hansen chased down and then beat Schneider on a breakaway for his first goal since March 30, 2017.

NOTES: DeMelo has 10 assists this month. ... San Jose D Brenden Dillon has a five-game point streak. ... Devils F Miles Wood (upper body) was scratched and Jesper Bratt played in his place.


Devils: Visit Pittsburgh on Friday.

Sharks: Host Vegas on Thursday.