The Sharks found a way to push both games of their weekend back-to-back past regulation, and managed to snag a point in each. While they felt they had more to give against bottom-feeder squads like the Los Angeles Kings and Arizona Coyotes, they also recognized the reality of the situation.
Their hectic schedule from the first few months of their season finally caught up to them.
“I feel like the break is coming at the right time,” coach Peter DeBoer told the media after Sunday’s 4-3 shootout loss to Arizona. “I feel like our team is running on fumes a little bit. The tank’s a little empty. We’ve had to dig deep the last two nights to find a way to scratch out a couple points.”
Not that you can blame them. Through 37 games so in the 2018-19 campaign, San Jose has played 18 games on home ice as opposed to 19 on the road. Since the beginning of November, the Sharks have played in six back-to-backs, four of which have been away from SAP Center. According to Stats LLC, 17 of their 31 games were played on one day's rest, on top of the aforementioned back-to-backs. That doesn’t even get into how many time zones this team has jumped since the puck first dropped on Oct. 3.
Nobody on the Sharks is going to use the rigorous schedule as an excuse. But the players expect to play at their best night in and night out, and know they could’ve reached another level over their last three games at home.
“All three of them, we should’ve collected points,” Logan Couture recalled to the press regarding losses to the Winnipeg Jets, Kings, and Coyotes. “The Winnipeg one, we couldn’t cough that one up. LA, we didn’t play our best and tonight we didn’t play our best.
“We weren’t at our best.”
The Sharks did get a boost in the third period of Sunday’s game from forward Tomas Hertl, who notched two goals to help push San Jose’s contest with Arizona into overtime. Hertl told the media after the game that, while he was happy he could contribute the two goals, he knew the whole team was capable of playing better overall before against the Coyotes and Kings.
“In both games we [fell] asleep a little bit,” Hertl said. “You pushed for one point, but we can’t really be happy after the last two games because they weren’t our best games. We got two points and that’s huge for us before Christmas, but we’ve got to get some rest and play a little bit better against these teams.”
Now, the Sharks will have their NHL-mandated three days off before they host the division rival Anaheim Ducks. Even if three days doesn’t seem like much time off, it could be what they need to rebound from their last two games, and get back to how they were playing during their five-game winning streak.
“I think we’re looking forward to the break,” DeBoer said. “Refresh and have a great second half.”