The Sharks' broadcast team called Tuesday's shutout loss to the Detroit Red Wings "frustrating" -- which is a pretty accurate description of the 2-0 loss from a viewer's perspective.
But it was also a pretty on-point way of summarizing the first half of the 2019-20 season. After 41 games, San Jose is still searching for a sustainable winning identity, and the New Year's Eve loss to league-worst Detroit -- which came on the heels of the Sharks' dominant win over the Philadelphia Flyers -- was further proof of that.
"It wasn't a bad road game by us, by any means, but at this time of year, we have to find ways to win and we couldn't find that way tonight," Sharks' interim coach Bob Boughner emphasized to reporters at Little Caesars Arena after the loss. "You try not to get frustrated, and you say the right things on the bench. Even going into the third period, we felt pretty good with where we were at. We weren't giving up a lot, and we said 'win a period, win a game.'"
When asked what the confidence level of the team is like at the moment, Boughner admitted that it's "not great."
He then pointed to the team's recent trouble scoring -- with the exception of the 6-1 win over Philly -- as a key reason why.
"We've been in a lot of these tight games where we're looking for offense," he explained. "The last five or six games, excluding Philadelphia, we're scoring one or two (goals) a night and our margin for error is so small. We don't give up much, but they get a bounce and a tipped goal and there it is."
Offense is on the rise in the NHL, and the Sharks have to be able to adapt. Through the first half of the season, that hasn't often been the case, with San Jose scoring the fifth-fewest goals per game (2.61) as of this writing.
It is, no doubt, an extra difficult pill for the Sharks to swallow given the road trip they have embarked on. It resumes Thursday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games despite being badly bitten by the injury bug this season. Then comes three just-as-difficult games against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Washington Capitals, and defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.
But while the road isn't getting any easier, the Sharks have to put all of that in the rear-view mirror if they want to kick all of their frustration to the curb and move up the standings in 2020.