Three takeaways: Sharks still not getting enough offense

Three takeaways: Sharks still not getting enough offense

GLENDALE, Az. – The Sharks’ second loss in Arizona in the month of November, this one a 3-2 overtime defeat, brought the club’s longest road trip to an end on Saturday. Three takeaways from the loss…

1 – Shots aplenty, but goals still not coming

The Sharks managed a season high 45 shots on goal, but were only able to get two of them past Mike Smith in the third period. They are 25th in the NHL with 2.28 goals-per game.

While the general consensus in the dressing room afterwards was that they were pleased with their effort, at what point does it become concerning that the scoring just hasn’t been there?

“It’s tough. It’s a fine line between wanting to believe that things are turning around and you’re doing the right things, [and] the frustration that settles in when you’re not putting the puck in the back of the net,” Paul Martin said. 

“I think all the guys in here have high expectations as far as how we want to play. I think guys put a lot of pressure on themselves. I think we believe in here that when we play our game like we did for most of the game tonight, that we’ll find a way to win.”

2 – Missing Hertl

Tomas Hertl’s absence for at least the next couple weeks means there is a void at the third line center position. Against the Coyotes, Pete DeBoer began with Patrick Marleau skating there between Mikkel Boedker and Matt Nieto, and it wasn’t a very effective group (Boedker, in particular, continues to bring down just about any line that DeBoer puts him on).

The coach changed it up in the third period, replacing Kevin Labanc on the top line with Marleau. It’s difficult to predict how the coach will deploy his forwards against the Devils on Monday, but it may be time to give some other guys a shot. Barracuda forwards Nikolay Goldobin, Timo Meier, Barclay Goodrow and Danny O’Regan are all playing well and putting up good offensive numbers in the net in the AHL.

“Someone will step up in [Hertl’s] role,” Tommy Wingels said. “Everyone is going to have to pick up their game a little bit. If he’s lost, it’s a big blow to the team, but we’ll find a way to get through it.”

3 – Returning home

While their 9-8-1 record is nothing to crow about, the Sharks do have their two longest road trips of the season in the rear view mirror. Considering they’ve played better at home than on the road so far, they could make up some points they’ve left on the table to this point, starting this week.

“[We’ll] spend a little bit of time [at home] and try and create that home ice [advantage],” Joe Pavelski said. 

“We haven’t had much time there. There’s a little bit of disconnect from the fans just because we’ve been gone. We want to get back there, we want to get the crowd going where we score a goal and the place erupts on your side. Those are good feelings, and we’re looking forward to getting home.”

Martin said: “We’ve let a couple slip away that I think we should have won or could have won that will be big points down the stretch. It’s something that we’re going to have to make up now.”

The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought after nearly one year


The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought after nearly one year

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 has 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.