After twelve periods of this first round, the Sharks have experienced some highs, and more lows and now find themselves one bad contest away from elimination. In order to advance, they’ll have to perform flawlessly three games in a row. The main frustration after Game 4 comes from “what could have been”… a statement win by San Jose would have been a statement in leveling the series, on the road, despite back-to-back losses, and all without the suspended Joe Thornton.
1. The results are not getting easier to digest. Game 2 saw the Sharks post a valiant early comeback, only to fall short late on two shorthanders and a controversial call. Game 3 saw the Sharks give up first-minute goals in every period and never really give themselves a chance. Game 4 didn’t see the Sharks light the lamp. What’s amazing is that Game 1’s outcome and elation was only one week ago, but now feels like an eternity.
2. It’s tough to name a best Sharks player from Game 4. Marcus Sorensen hit two posts. Tomas Hertl had five shots, and Logan Couture laid six hits. There was not a standout performance of note.
There were also not sustained stretches where you could say San Jose was dangerous with the puck. Their best looks came late in the first period while Shea Theodore served a slashing penalty, but it was ultimately Theodore who came out of the box and made it a 2-0 game before the first intermission.
3. Discipline didn’t help. The Sharks were chasing the scoreboard all night long, and despite outshooting Las Vegas 18-7 in the first, San Jose only had two shots on goal in the final period. A majority of that was due to all the Golden Knight Power Play time in the third, as San Jose was in the box six separate times in the last twenty minutes alone.
4. The ailments are obvious and mounting. Erik Karlsson doesn’t look normal and seems to be doing his very best to conceal and perform through the lower-body injury. Timo Meier played only 11:29 which must indicate some effects of that spill he took back in Edmonton are greater than we know. Logan Couture only skated 14:29, which makes me curious, especially in a game where the Sharks were already down a regular centerman in Thornton.
Not to mention however Joe Pavelski’s mouth is surviving in trying to eat and sleep regularly, and the absence of Marc-Edouard Vlasic who got hit with a puck. All teams standing are banged up at this juncture, none of them use it as an excuse, but it should be noted some things we can’t see could be factoring into the results we are witnessing.
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5. Who is the favored goalie to start Game 5? If you believe in the “parachute” mentality, Pete DeBoer has already pulled the ripcord, and it’s Aaron Dell’s chance to make a stand. It also might make more sense considering Martin Jones has been pulled in each of the last two.
The bigger factor is that overall play without the puck still continues to put the Sharks in difficult situations. Odd man rushes. Unmarked netfront chances. When you’re allowing too many key opportunities, and not getting nearly enough key saves, the combination doesn’t lead to great places.