Sharks fall to Oilers in shootout 2-1


Sharks fall to Oilers in shootout 2-1


EDMONTON Its debatable which is more deflating that the Sharks lost to the lowly Edmonton Oilers in a shootout on Monday night, 2-1, or that defenseman Brent Burns may be out for an extended period after what looked to be a potentially serious right knee injury.

Either way, the Sharks fell for the fourth time in five games against a team that has been among the NHLs worst in the last three months.

San Jose poured 45 shots on net compared with just 18 for Edmonton through regulation and overtime. It was a quiet 45, though, as the Sharks controlled play in the Edmonton zone for long stretches but didnt challenge goaltender Devan Dubnyk as much as the shot total would suggest.

Joe Pavelski explained.

We got the shots, and I guess sometimes it felt dangerous, but there wasnt a whole lot of desperation or second or third opportunities where Dubnyk is really scrambling. With 45 shots, you think he would be," he said.

Its a game weve got to win, and find a way to be better.

Burns left at 5:37 of the third period after a knee-on-knee collision with Ales Hemsky, and was unable to put any weight on his right leg as he left the ice. He was limping badly in the dressing room when he met with reporters, and his immediate status is unknown.

I dont know, its still pretty early, said Burns, regarding the extent of his injury.
KURZ: Burns thought he was going to 'throw up'

The Sharks went to the power play because of the hit, though, on a five-minute major for kneeing to Hemsky, who also received a game misconduct. Logan Coutures deflection of a low Dan Boyle pass tied the game at 1-1 less than a minute into the power play.

From there, San Jose managed to hit a post on another deflection, but didnt really sustain any pressure during a golden opportunity to take its first lead in the game. In fact, the Sharks had trouble even entering the zone, and were whistled for numerous offsides infractions despite Todd McLellan using his timeout with about two minutes to go in order to get his top line on the ice.

Timing wasnt good. Entering the zone wasnt good. Decisions at the blue line obviously werent very good, Couture said. On our goal, Joe Thornton made a great pass on the entry to Boyler and he found me back door. We maybe had one more good entry, but we didnt get any chances in the zone because we didnt enter well enough.

Overtime came and went without any markers, and the Oilers took the extra point in the standings when Sam Gagner and Taylor Hall converted on two of four chances against Thomas Greiss, while Pavelski was the only one to get it by Dubnyk for the Sharks.

For the last place Oilers, it was just their second win in the last 10 games.

San Jose has one game remaining before the NHL All-Star break, on Tuesday night in Calgary.

The Sharks had some decent scoring chances in the first period, taking advantage of 10 Oilers turnovers and outshooting Edmonton 13-5 in the process. An open Burns one-timer from the slot was blocked, and Dubnyk swallowed up a turnaround wrist shot from Pavelski, skating around from behind the net.

After a Shawn Horcoff turnover in the offensive zone, Torrey Mitchell found Jamie McGinn for a blast from the faceoff circle that hit the post with 8:30 remaining.

I liked the way our team played the first period, McLellan said. I thought we were very quick on changes, we kept our shifts short, we didnt give up many odd-numbered rushes, if any. We created the bulk of the scoring chances. I liked the way our group responded.

The Oilers broke through with the games first goal in the second period. Jeff Petrys shot bounced off of Douglas Murray to an open Jordan Eberle on the other side of the ice, and the Edmonton All-Star slid in his 18th goal of the year at 6:50.

I picked it up too late, Greiss said. It bounced off of the skate right to Eberle, and until I saw it, it was already coming to me.

Murray said: Theres not much you can do about it. Things happen, bounces.

That was all the Sharks surrendered, though, as the puck was at the other end for most of the night.

We cleaned up our defensive play, thought we controlled the puck and had it most of the night, a lot of zone time, McLellan said. Felt good about our game, yet we only leave with one point. Thats the disappointing thing.

Greiss, who fell to 2-1 in his career in shootouts, said: I think we played great defensively today. Tough for me, not playing much and not getting many shots, but it was great defense and I didnt have many odd man rushes or anything like that. That helped a lot.

Not enough to beat one of the lowliest clubs in the NHL, though.
Odds and ends: The reserved crowd, which at times was virtually silent, got a rare jolt late in the second when Andy Sutton flattened Jamie McGinn with a clean hit in the neutral zone with 5:30 to go. Dan Boyles nine shots were a season high for the Sharks. Thomas Greiss has allowed just one goal in each of his last three starts. Logan Coutures third period goal was his 100th career NHL point. The Sharks won 52 percent of the games faceoffs. The Sharks had 20 missed shots and had 12 blocked, for a total of 77 attempts at the net.

Sharks have tall task against Penguins, who are in Stanley Cup form


Sharks have tall task against Penguins, who are in Stanley Cup form

The Sharks witnessed firsthand the emergence of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia native Nathan Mackinnon as a legitimate superstar in a loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday. Naturally, their reward is to face the NHL's first superstar from the area on Saturday. 

And of course, much like Mackinnon, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is playing some of the best hockey of his career. 

In 2018, no player has scored more points than the three-time Stanley Cup champion (15). In fact, three of the top five scorers in the new year skate in the Steel City: Evgeni Malkin is tied for third with 13 points, and Phil Kessel is right behind him in a tie for fifth with 12 points. 

The trio has powered the Penguins to a three-point lead on the Eastern Conference's final Wild Card spot. As recently as New Year's Eve, though, the Penguins were seventh place in the loaded Metropolitan Division, and three points back of the postseason. 

It was always a matter of 'when' rather than 'if' Pittsburgh would turn it on. Fatigue was always a possibility, as the back-to-back champions have played at least 13 more postseason games (49) than any other team in the league over the last two seasons, but any concerns seem firmly in the rearview mirror at the moment. 

The same cannot necessarily be said about the Sharks, whom the Penguins dispatched in six games in San Jose's first Stanley Cup Final appearance. Yes, they've won three out of four since the bye week, but haven't played all that well in the process.

Two of those wins came against the lowly Coyotes, and San Jose has barely out-possesed their opponents (50.74 five-on-five corsi-for percentage; 51.22 fenwick-for percentage, according to Corsica Hockey). They're scoring nearly a goal more per 60 minutes of five-on-five play (2.69) than before the bye (1.85), but are allowing nearly one-and-a-quarter more goals (3.58 five-on-five GA/60) than before the bye week (2.24).

The latter is, at least in part, because Martin Jones is not playing well. The Conn Smythe-like form that kept the Sharks in it against the Penguins two Junes ago has largely eluded him this season, and injury may have played a part. 

Jones is day-to-day with a minor injury, according to the Bay Area News Group's Paul Gackle, and the team recalled goaltender Troy Grosenick from the San Jose Barracuda on Friday as a result. That leaves Aaron Dell in net as the last line of defense against the Penguins. 

With Pittsburgh looking a lot like the team that celebrated a Stanley Cup win on San Jose's home ice two postseasons ago, stopping them will be a tall task. 

DeBoer's defense of Jones doesn't paint the whole picture


DeBoer's defense of Jones doesn't paint the whole picture

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer passionately defended goaltender Martin Jones following San Jose's 5-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night. For the eighth time in his last 14 starts, Jones allowed four goals, but DeBoer tried to take a look at the bigger picture. 

"You guys like to grab little pictures of things that work for the story your writing," DeBoer told reporters in Denver after he was asked about Jones' recent struggles. 

"It's 14 games. You can go back six games and write whatever story you want. He's having a great year for us. Our goaltending has been excellent all year."

If you look at his save percentage, Jones is not having a great season.

His save percentage in all situations (.9097) is the lowest in his three seasons in teal, and ranks 22nd out of the 34 goalies that have played 1000 minutes in all situations, according to Corsica Hockey. His five-on-five save percentage (.9147) is also the lowest of his teal tenure, and sits 26th out of 30 goalies that have played 1000 five-on-five minutes. 

But save percentage doesn't always tell the whole story, as it doesn't take into account shot quality. As we've written previously, Jones has played behind a loose defense this season.

Among those aforementioned 30 goalies, Jones has faced the highest percentage of high-danger shots, the second-highest percentage of medium-danger shots, and fourth-lowest percentage of low-danger shots. 

Luckily, there's a metric that does take into account shot quality: goals saved above average (GSAA). GSAA works much like Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in baseball, and considers how well a league-average goaltender would do "based on the shot danger faced," according to Corsica's definition.

Jones has been better than his save percentage would indicate. His 0.54 five-on-five GSAA ranks 17th out of the 30 goalies that have played 1000 five-on-five minutes, and his all situations GSAA (8.69) ranks 11th out of 34 goalies that have played 1000 minutes in all situations. 

GSAA has the same downside as WAR, in that it's an accumulative statistic, and favors players that have played more. In order to equalize for playing time, we can look at GSAA/30 shots faced. 

Jones ranks 17th and 10th in five-on-five (0.03) and all situations (0.31) GSAA/30, respectively, among goaltenders that have played 1000 minutes in such circumstances. In other words, Jones has been about average during five-on-five play, and one of the league's better goalies across all situations, at least based on the kind of shots he's faced.

That's not neccessarily "great," but Jones has been better on the whole than his recent play would indicate. Of course, he's also been outplayed in his own crease.

Backup goaltender Aaron Dell not only boasts a higher save percentage than Jones, but his GSAA/30 in five-on-five situations (0.15) and across all strengths (0.44) are also higher than Jones'. Every 30 shots on the penalty kill, Dell (2.05 GSAA/30) saves nearly a goal more than Jones (1.06). 

DeBoer also acknowledged that Dell will have to play more out of necessity, with the Sharks halfway through a stretch of eight games in 13 days. That includes a difficult back-to-back this weekend, hosting the Penguins Saturday and facing the Ducks in Anaheim on Sunday. 

The coach was on to something on Thursday. Yes, Jones has been better than his recenty play, and his season-long save percentage, would indicate. 

But that doesn't mean he's been "great," nor does it mean he's San Jose's better option in net right now.