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.

Former Sharks defenseman Paul Martin announces retirement


Former Sharks defenseman Paul Martin announces retirement

After 14 seasons with the Devils, Penguins and Sharks, defenseman Paul Martin has called it a career.

Martin announced his retirement from the NHL in an article published by The Athletic on Wednesday.

The 37-year-old spent the last three seasons in San Jose and was released on June 22.

In three seasons with the Sharks, Martin finished with seven goals and 41 assists.

Martin was defense partners with Brent Burns when the latter won the Norris Trophy during the 2016-17 season.

As you might imagine, Burns had nice things to say about Martin in The Athletic's piece.

“The most special thing about that guy is it didn’t matter how many times you asked him how he was or what was he doing or what was going on, he always just cared about you," Burns told The Athletic's Michael Russo. "We always joked, we know his name, but we know nothing else ’cause he’s always asking if we’re all right, how our kids are doing, how life is. He just cared that much and he really put the ‘Nice’ in the Minnesota Nice. It’s like this guy just exemplifies that. I mean, just look what he’s doing for kids in Minnesota. That says everything you want to know about him. It’s just so genuine of him. I’m not kidding you, he’s the most genuine human being I’ve ever met."

Peter DeBoer talks Erik Karlsson, John Tavares ahead of first showdown


Peter DeBoer talks Erik Karlsson, John Tavares ahead of first showdown

SAN JOSE -- With the Toronto Maple Leafs in town and the Canadian media on the scene, there were two names that popped up a lot at the Sharks’ Wednesday morning practice: Erik Karlsson and John Tavares.

The two veterans were the biggest names on the market last summer -- both captains on their respective teams who had the opportunity to play for a contender. Fast-forward to November, and the two players are facing off for the first time since sporting new sweaters.

So naturally, Sharks’ bench box Peter DeBoer was peppered with questions about the Leafs’ newest forward and Team Teal’s newest defenseman.

You may recall the Sharks were initially in on the John Tavares sweepstakes before the 28-year-old center chose to take his talents up to Toronto. That didn’t stop DeBoer from praising his success since joining the Leafs.

“John Tavares, for me, is one of the best players in the world,” DeBoer said. “Playing with a lot of confidence.”

It’s easy to see why Tavares is playing so confidently, too. He’s leading the team with 11 goals in 18 games and is ranked second on the squad with 22 points. 

“I just love the honesty to his game,” DeBoer continued. “He plays both ends of the rink. He wins battles. He goes to the dirty areas of the rink. And he makes other people around him better.”

Of course, the conversation turned toward the big acquisition the Sharks did make this off-season: two-time Norris Trophy-winner Karlsson. While much of the outside focus has centered on the defenseman not scoring his first goal of the season yet, DeBoer was frank when he said he likes what he’s seeing from the new addition to the roster. He also noted that the number of goals scored isn’t the only number outsiders should be looking at.

“I think his game is trending in the right direction,” he said of No. 65.  “When you look at the underlying numbers of what he’s doing here, they’re as good or better than they were two years ago in Ottawa.

“All those things are there. It just hasn’t (broken) the right way for him yet.”

As far as finding the back of the net, DeBoer acknowledged the pressure on Karlsson can play a role.

“It’s human nature. You want to come in, you want to make an impact," DeBoer said. "For sure, that can weigh on you. But sometimes you have to take a step back and look at what’s actually going on.”

What’s going on now is the Leafs making their one and only season visit to San Jose after defeating the LA Kings 5-1 on Tuesday. The matchup with Toronto won’t be easy, much like the contest the Sharks just played on Tuesday against the conference-leading Nashville Predators.

“We know, like with Nashville, that we have to be on top of our game,” DeBoer summarized. “If you try and cheat, they can put up some goals really quickly on you.”