Sharks

Peter DeBoer: 'Soft plays' doomed Sharks in 4-3 loss to Stars

Peter DeBoer: 'Soft plays' doomed Sharks in 4-3 loss to Stars

It’s something that seems to be happening in quite a few of the San Jose Sharks’ games so far this season. The contests are close and come down to the wire, and any misstep can tilt the game in either team’s favor.

Such was the case against the Stars in Dallas on Thursday evening. Both teams traded off grade-A opportunities through the fast-paced game, with San Jose – once again – heavily outshooting the opposition. But just a few lapses on the defensive side of things was all it took to give the Stars a 4-3 victory.

“We shot ourselves in the foot,” Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer told the media after the loss. “We made some soft plays with the puck or poor decisions.”

San Jose was keeping pace with the ferocious Dallas squad as they were tied 1-1 heading into the first intermission. Just a couple misreads in the second stanza was all it took, though, for the Stars to score two quick goals and take over on the scoreboard.

“I liked our first period, and (then) I looked up and we’re down 3-1,” DeBoer said.

The power shifted into Dallas’s favor during that second period when Tyler Seguin intercepted Brenden Dillon’s slow pass to Erik Karlsson in the Sharks’ defensive zone. From there, the quick forward easily notched the Stars’ go-ahead goal. Then, less than a minute later, Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen set up the perfect tic-tac-toe play with fourth liners Jason Dickinson and Gemel Smith to give Dallas yet another goal and the 3-1 lead.

DeBoer acknowledged the Sharks kept pace and pushed back after that point, but that the defensive breakdowns in the second period were their undoing.

“It wasn’t a lack of effort,” he explained. “It was just some execution and some poor decisions against a team that – you put it on (Tyler) Seguin’s stick, he’s going to put it in the net.”

This brings into question whether San Jose is, despite constantly outshooting their opponents almost every night, giving up more chances than they’re creating on a nightly basis. Seven of the Sharks’ last eight games have been decided by one goal. So, while they’re ranked 19th in the league in goals-against per game (3.00) those few goals are making a big difference. 

DeBoer told the media postgame he doesn’t think there’s a pattern of that bad behavior.

“I don’t think it’s a symptom,” DeBoer said, directing attention back to the game that was just played. “We showed up, we played a good first period, and they found a way to come out with the lead.”

Perhaps the one consolation is that San Jose doesn’t have time to dwell on this game, hopping right on a plane and heading to St. Louis to play the Blues on the tail end of their back-to-back. St. Louis has had a very lopsided 2018-19 campaign so far, recently suffering a 5-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild before rebounding with a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.

Playing an off-balance team like this could give the Sharks the opportunity to rebound from the Dallas loss and play a game where they can create some space. 

This could, potentially, be a game where they can stop that pattern of battling down to the wire from evolving.

Sharks jersey retirements: Why Patrick Marleau should be honored first

Sharks jersey retirements: Why Patrick Marleau should be honored first

Editor’s Note: The Sharks are the only team in the Pacific Division -- other than the nascent Vegas Golden Knights -- who have not raised the jersey of a former player to the rafters. This week, NBC Sports California will examine the cases of the five likeliest candidates to have the Sharks’ first retired number. We conclude with Patrick Marleau.

Patrick Marleau saw it all in a Sharks uniform. 

Selected No. 2 overall in the 1997 NHL Draft, Marleau joined San Jose as a 17-year-old. The Sharks had just followed up their first two Stanley Cup playoff appearances with back-to-back finishes in the Western Conference basement. 

They returned to the playoffs in Marleau’s rookie season, and only would miss out on the postseason twice during his 19 seasons in San Jose. Over his ensuing 1,670 regular-season and playoff games with the Sharks, Marleau climbed to the top of San Jose’s goal-scoring and points lists.

He was the captain, and then he wasn’t. He was criticized for his playoff performances, and then he scored series-clinching goals that sent the Sharks to the Western Conference final in back-to-back postseasons. Through it all, Marleau was a fixture in San Jose and remained synonymous with the franchise even after he left as a free agent in 2017. 

Let’s examine the case for, and against, the Sharks retiring Marleau’s No. 12 jersey first. 

The case for

When Marleau signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs two summers ago, nobody had played more games, scored more goals or compiled more points in a Sharks uniform. Joe Thornton now is within striking distance of Marleau’s regular-season and playoff points records, but Marleau's total games-played mark should stand for at least another handful of seasons. 

Although his Sharks peak fell just shy of Thornton's, Marleau was pretty damn good in teal. He scored at least 25 goals in 12 seasons, at least 30 in seven, at least 35 in four and 40-plus once (44 in 2009-10). No San Jose player has more 25-, 30- or 40-goal seasons to their name. 

Marleau also is one of 21 players to score 500 goals with a single franchise. Only six players have played more games with one team than Marleau. He’s known as “Mr. Shark” for a reason, and even Thornton has said Marleau will “go down as the best Shark of all-time.” 

He also remains beloved. Marleau received a five-minute standing ovation in his first return to San Jose, and drew loud cheers in his second. Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews revealed a No. 12 Marleau sweater under his jersey during this year’s NHL All-Star Skills Competition in San Jose, and got one of the biggest reactions of the weekend -- and Marleau wasn’t even there to hear it.  

The case against

We’re nitpicking here, but let’s try anyway. For one, Marleau did wear two numbers in San Jose, although you’re far more likely to see No. 12 sweaters at SAP Center than the No. 14 he rocked for four seasons. 

Marleau’s franchise records are a testament to his longevity, but he wasn’t necessarily as dominant as Thornton or some of his other teammates. He never finished on a First or Second All-Star team at the end of a season, and was a top 10 finisher for the Hart and Selke Trophies just three times.

While Marleau and Thornton shouldered a disproportionate share of the blame for the Sharks’ playoff disappointments, it’s worth noting that Marleau only led San Jose in postseason points in four playoff runs. Of those, the Sharks won a playoff series in just two. 

Marleau was warmly received in his return to San Jose, but he left by his own volition in the first place. His Toronto tenure will be a blip on the radar of his career, yet Marleau won’t retire as a one-franchise player no matter where he plays this season.  

[RELATED: Sharks reportedly 'don't want' reunion with Marleau next year]

Verdict

This is a no-brainer. Marleau’s No. 12 should be the first the Sharks retire, and they shouldn’t wait long to do it. He could play anywhere else and he still will be remembered as a Shark, if not the Shark. 

But as we outlined Thursday, Thornton arguably has a better claim to the honor than his longtime teammate. But even though Thornton stayed in San Jose and Marleau did not when both hit free agency in 2017, their Sharks careers are forever linked. 

Because of this, it makes perfect sense for the Sharks to simultaneously retire both numbers. They came into the NHL together as the top two picks in the 1997 draft, played on a line together for years and are going to retire as first and second in games played with the franchise.

There might not be a better tribute to both players.

Which Sharks should have their jersey retired first?

The case for -- and against -- Evgeni Nabokov's jersey retirement
The case for -- and against -- Owen Nolan's jersey retirement
The case for -- and against -- Joe Pavelski's jersey retirement
The case for -- and against -- Joe Thornton's jersey retirement

Sharks jersey retirements: Why Joe Thornton should be honored first

Sharks jersey retirements: Why Joe Thornton should be honored first

Editor’s Note: The Sharks are the only team in the Pacific Division -- other than the nascent Vegas Golden Knights -- who have not raised the jersey of a former player to the rafters. This week, NBC Sports California will examine the cases of the five likeliest candidates to have the Sharks’ first retired number. We continue with Joe Thornton.

The history of the Sharks can be split into two eras: Before Joe Thornton, and after Joe Thornton.

It’s befitting of a man nicknamed “Jumbo,” as San Jose’s acquisition of the probable Hall of Famer from the Boston Bruins on Nov. 30, 2005 marks the biggest turning point in the franchise’s history. The Sharks were no longer "up-and-coming” after the Thornton trade: His arrival meant they had arrived.

Thornton’s presence began an era in which San Jose climbed to the NHL’s elite, in large part on the back of his superstardom. Let’s examine the case for, and against, the Sharks retiring Thornton’s No. 19 jersey first. 

The case for

Save for Brent Burns’ run on defense over the last handful of seasons, no Shark has been as dominant at their peak as Thornton. He remains the only San Jose player to win the Art Ross and Hart Trophies, leading the league in scoring and winning MVP honors in the season he was traded to the Sharks. 

Thornton owns three of the four 90-point seasons in Sharks franchise history, scoring 92, 114 and 96 points, respectively, from 2005-06 through 2007-08. The fourth belongs to Jonathan Cheechoo, who led the league in goal-scoring in 2005-06 with 56 goals. Forty-nine of those goals came after Thornton was acquired. 

Cheechoo, Devin Setoguchi, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and even Burns all took their goal-scoring to the next level playing on Thornton’s wing. He is one of the best passers of all time, and his dominance is reflected on the Sharks’ all-time scoring charts: Thornton owns eight of the 10 highest single-season assist totals in San Jose history, and is 206 helpers clear in first place on the team's all-time list. 

Despite his absence on the NHL’s list of its 100 greatest players of all-time, Thornton simply is one of the best to ever play the sport. He’s the best player in franchise history, and his best years came in San Jose. This should be an open-and-shut case. 

The case against 

It’s not clear-cut for the No. 1 pick in the 1997 NHL Draft, however, because of the No. 2 pick in the 1997 draft. Thornton very well could pass Marleau on the Sharks’ all-time points list -- he’s 59 shy of doing so -- but he would need to play 460 more games for San Jose to surpass Marleau.  

He undoubtedly has had a more productive career than Marleau, but tenure and sentimentality should count for something when it comes to jersey retirements, which are about a place in team history as much as anything else. Thornton and Marleau were simultaneous faces of the franchise during their shared Sharks tenure -- for better or worse -- and something would seem off about retiring one before the other.

Plus, Thornton doesn’t seem ready to retire any time soon. He has not yet re-signed with the Sharks, but he told reporters at June’s NHL Awards in Las Vegas that he is thinking about playing this upcoming season and beyond. 

If -- and it’s a big if -- Thornton plays into his mid-40s a la Chris Chelios and Jaromir Jagr, would the Sharks wait until he calls it a career before lifting the first number into SAP Center’s rafters? They’ve gone nearly three decades without doing so, but Marleau retiring from the sport before Thornton could mean No. 12 gets raised first. 

[RELATED: Sharks reportedly 'don't want' reunion with Marleau next year]

Verdict 

The Sharks can’t go wrong with retiring Thornton’s number first. Thornton likely will go into the Hockey Hall of Fame as the first player primarily remembered for their time in teal, and he’ll also be remembered as one of the greatest players of all time. 

Whether you want him or Marleau to have their number retired first, it’s clear that one of them will. But, we’ll pose one question as a counterargument in Friday’s series finale.

Why not both?

Which Sharks should have their jersey retired first?

The case for -- and against -- Evgeni Nabokov's jersey retirement
The case for -- and against -- Owen Nolan's jersey retirement
The case for -- and against -- Joe Pavelski's jersey retirement