Sharks

Rewind: Sharks disagree with ruling in 3-2 loss to Ducks

Rewind: Sharks disagree with ruling in 3-2 loss to Ducks

SAN JOSE – The Sharks and Ducks were each playing their fourth game in a week sandwiched around the holiday, including the second of a back-to-back, and there was distinct lack of energy and animosity that’s typically evident when these two Pacific Division rivals face off against one another.

One play stood out among the rest, though, in Anaheim’s 3-2 win. In the first period, with San Jose ahead thanks to Logan Couture’s power play goal, Ryan Garbutt stormed towards the crease and plowed over Martin Jones. The puck crossed the line during the violent collision, and a video replay confirmed that it did so before the net came off of its moorings.

Pete DeBoer promptly challenged the play, but the goal was upheld, as the Toronto war room determined that Brent Burns pushed Garbutt into Jones. The Sharks, with visions of Joe Pavelski’s overturned goal in a Nashville playoff game last spring under similar circumstances still in their heads, didn’t agree with the call.

“That’s the rule that I guess we’ll never understand, because last year we were told in the Nashville series that Pav was pushed in and he should have made the effort to stop,” Couture said. “Tonight they just said he was pushed in even though he didn’t make an effort to stop. I don’t understand what the league is doing with the rule, so maybe some more clarification is needed.”

DeBoer said: “I still think you have to make some intent to try to stop and avoid the collision. I didn't see that, but they obviously saw something I didn't."

The goal was hardly a backbreaker, as it came in the first period with plenty of time left. Anaheim struck again later in the first, but the Sharks responded with a brilliant shift in the second period by their fourth line. Ryan Carpenter, making his season debut and playing in just his second career NHL game, screened Jonathan Bernier on a Dylan DeMelo shot, tying it at 2-2. 

DeMelo was playing in just his second game of the season, filling in for a sick Brenden Dillon.

“Great pass by [Kevin Labanc] and even better screen by Carpy, so [Bernier] didn’t see a thing,” DeMelo said.

Pavelski said: “It was awesome to see [DeMelo] get that one. He made a great shot. Couple nice plays on that shift. … They definitely did their job.”

Ryan Getzlaf scored a power play goal in the second period, though, and the Sharks were never able to get another. They managed just five shots on goal in the third period, as the energy tanks were perhaps just a little too drained in their fourth game in six nights.

Further complicating matters was DeBoer’s decision to shorten his bench. Carpenter, Micheal Haley and Mikkel Boedker all remained planted on the pine, with Boedker’s omission from the game the most noteworthy. 

The forward, who signed a four-year, $16 million deal in the offseason, has been nothing short of invisible most nights. With just two points (two goals) in 22 games, Boedker may be giving some Sharks fans (and maybe even some in the front office) fears that they may be witnessing the second coming of Marty Havlat.

DeBoer didn’t call Boedker out by name after the game, but when asked about his decision to sit certain guys late, said: “We were behind going into the third. Some guys it was just circumstance. Some guys didn't deserve to play."

The coach wasn’t necessarily pleased with the forwards that were playing, either, other than the top line of Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.

“The best legs on the ice were our veterans, Jumbo and Marleau and Pavelski, which is a little inexcusable if you're a younger guy and you don't have legs when those guys are going,” DeBoer said.

The defense was also shorthanded, but that wasn’t a coach’s decision. Marc-Edouard Vlasic left after the second period due to injury and did not return, and there was no update on his status after the game.

“As a unit we did pretty well being down a guy,” Justin Braun said.

Of the Sharks’ 23 shots, only 12 came from forwards. That’s where this game was lost – a lack of second chances, especially from close range.

“We didn’t really sustain much pressure until the very end there,” Couture said. “We had some shifts in their end. Would have liked to generate a couple more shots.”

Sharks need better goaltending with NHL playoffs just around corner

jonesap.jpg
AP

Sharks need better goaltending with NHL playoffs just around corner

SAN JOSE – Goaltending has been a hot topic all season for the Sharks. Even when they’ve been winning games, the performance between the pipes has been under scrutiny.

Now, with the playoffs just a couple weeks away and San Jose tryng to snap a season-long five-game winning streak, the performance of Sharks goaltenders Martin Jones and Aaron Dell is yet again being scrutinized.

There’s no mistaking it – they need to be better.

Even Sharks coach Peter DeBoer, who isn’t one to call out players after a loss, seemed particularly perturbed with the Sharks' play in net. He said just as much after San Jose's fifth straight defeat, a 4-3 loss to the lowly Anaheim Ducks on Friday.

“I don’t want to sugarcoat it, but I think we had them for six chances, and they scored four goals,” he said at the time. “You can’t lay it at one guy's feet, but you can’t win in this league with [an.800 to .900] save percentage. We’ve got to find a way to get an extra save, and on (the other) end we’ve got to find a way to get another goal.”

DeBoer isn’t wrong. Jones might be tied for third place among all NHL goalies with 34 wins under his belt, but his .898 save percentage is 58th out of 69 goalies who have played at least 10 games. Dell's .887 save percentage is 67th. Combined, the Sharks' .891 save percentage is last in the league.

In March, a month in which the Sharks have gone 6-4-1, San Jose has scored 37 goals and allowed 36. Those aren’t stats you want to see heading into the postseason.

To be fair, all the blame can’t be laid at the feet of the netminders, much like DeBoer said. Defensive breakdowns in front of the net don’t do Jones and Dell any favors – and with a banged-up blue line that’s missing Erik Karlsson and Radim Simek, those mistakes become more apparent.

It also doesn’t help the Sharks' offense has dried up, scoring no more than three goals in each of the last five losses. Leading goal-scorer Joe Pavelski has missed the last three, making matters worse.

But San Jose still, as DeBoer mentioned, needs to get more key saves from its goaltenders. 

[RELATED: Why Sharks believe five-game skid will strengthen them]

Now, with the Sharks having secured a playoff spot over the past week, the last few games of the season are going to be focused on being ready for the first round. In addition to getting the lineup healthier, the Sharks also have to focus on allowing fewer goals. A better defensive effort will go a long way, but Jones and Dell also have to buckle down and stop the puck more if San Jose is to hang on to home-ice advantage in the first round.

Don’t expect the goaltending conversation to cool off during these last weeks of the regular season. Goaltending is going to be a major focus as the playoffs get closer. If the Sharks want to still be playing hockey in May and June, it simply has to be better than it is right now.

Sharks not satisfied with single point, believe skid will strengthen them

Sharks not satisfied with single point, believe skid will strengthen them

Well, the Sharks certainly made it interesting. Every time the Ducks scored a goal on Friday evening, the Sharks came back and were able to tie things up. They even got the game-tying goal late in the third period that took their contest into overtime – at least, before they lost 4-3.

Perhaps at a different time of year, getting their first point in five games would feel better. Not on this night. 

The focus remains on the work to be done with just seven games left in the regular season. For Team Teal, they need to clean their game up and get back into the win column.

“It’s better than nothing, but overall, we’re just not finding ways to win games now,” Timo Meier told the media in Anaheim regarding the single point. “We’ve got to find a way to win games. It’s an important time of the year. Playoffs are really close.”

San Jose put a better effort on the ice on Friday than they did the previous evening in LA against the Kings, but the opportunistic Ducks were able to bury more of their chances,

"I don’t think we gave them very much," Peter DeBoer said. "Every chance they got, they stuck in the net, though."

DeBoer was more critical of the team a second night in a row, and rightfully so. Despite outshooting the opposition, the Sharks weren’t able to find the back of the net enough times. They allowed two goals while playing on the penalty kill and tallied 14 giveaways. Plus, outside of Meier’s power-play marker, San Jose still went one-for-five on the man advantage. Despite tying the score up three times, the Sharks couldn’t keep the Ducks from responding.

Clearly, all areas of the game need to be tweaked.

“We’ve got to find a way to get an extra save, and on (the other) end we’ve got to find a way to get another goal,” DeBoer said. “We could’ve used a power-play goal tonight -- another one.”

Perhaps the only silver lining, as Meier put it, is that the Sharks are going through this stretch now instead of once they get into the playoffs. San Jose is still trying to get some of its key players healthy and into the lineup so they can make a deep playoff run with the lines and pairs they want. The goal, at least at the moment, is to make sure this five-game skid is a lesson to learn from and not a prelude to the future.

"Get stronger as a team, get tighter as a group, and learn," Meier said. "It’s going to make us stronger going into the playoffs because there are going to be lots of ups and downs coming up. It’s going to make us stronger and we’ve got to react the right way.”