Sharks

Rewind: Sharks slow, sloppy and undisciplined in loss to Wings

Rewind: Sharks slow, sloppy and undisciplined in loss to Wings

DETROIT – The Sharks had just one scheduled practice on their 10-day road trip, set to take place on Friday in Detroit prior to the fifth and final game against the Red Wings. It was canceled, though, as the coaching staff opted for rest rather than work.

The result was a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings in which the Sharks were sloppy in their own zone, were smoked in the faceoff circle, surrendered a plethora of odd-man rushes, and took eight minor penalties. They just couldn’t keep pace with a Detroit team that was playing its second game in as many nights. 

San Jose looked like a club that has held just a single solitary practice since the season began on Oct. 12.

“Some breakdowns, guys not being above [the puck], some giveaways in our own end, we’re kind of leaving [the defensive zone] early,” Logan Couture said. “We just don’t seem like we’re dedicated to defense like we were at the end [of] last year.”

[KURZ: Instant Replay: Sharks blanked by Wings, end road trip with thud]

“It wasn’t very good tonight,” added Martin Jones, who lost his third in a row in goal. “Too many penalties, too many turnovers. Just wasn’t very good tonight.”

The start was actually a decent one, as the Sharks were attempting to put Thursday’s third period collapse in Pittsburgh behind them, but Detroit eventually took over. Gustav Nyquist broke the scoreless tie four minutes into the second period, and added to the Red Wings’ lead with a second marker about 11 minutes later.

On the first, Paul Martin was caught flat-footed in the offensive zone, leading to a two-on-one rush by Detroit. Nyquist abruptly stopped on the faceoff dot in front of Justin Braun, and rifled a shot though. On the second, Matt Nieto had control of the puck and was headed up the ice before he stumbled and turned it over to Ryan Sproul, who found Nyquist in the slot. 

A bad line change resulted in Andreas Athanasiou powering a slap shot to Jones’ far side six minutes into the third period, giving Detroit a commanding three-goal lead. 

“We were late everywhere tonight,” Pete DeBoer said. “When you’re a step behind a good team they expose you, and I think that was the story. We’ll have to go back and figure out why, and get our game back in a better place.”

“We played into their hands. They’re a transition team, a speed team, and if you’re going to play east-west and turn the puck over they’re going to make you pay for it. We talked about it, but we still fell into that trap. Obviously the penalties didn’t help, and we’re playing catch up all night.”

Among those penalties was a double minor to Joe Pavelski for spearing Steve Ott, just a few seconds after Athanasiou’s goal. The captain seemed agitated for much of the night.

Pavelski said he didn’t think he got a whole lot of Ott with his stick, but “it’s a play you don’t want to make.”

DeBoer didn’t take issue with the play which nullified what would have been a Sharks power play after a Drew Miller interference.

“Pav is a competitor. He was probably our best player tonight. He’s competing right until the final buzzer,” DeBoer said. “I don’t have a problem with that. It doesn’t bother me.”

The power play, though, is one area that the coach may need to focus on when the Sharks finally get a practice in on Monday at home. Despite being together for so many years, the top unit seems tentative with the puck and is misfiring on passes that are typically routine.

On one power play in the second period when the game was still scoreless, Pavelski was open in front of the net, but Patrick Marleau missed him on what would have been a tap-in goal. The Sharks finished 0-for-4 with a man advantage and have just one goal in a manned net this season during five-on-four play.

What has to change?

“Quite a few things,” Couture said. “We’re breaking in fine, [but] we’re too stationary, I think. I don’t know if we’re moving the puck well enough. Not attacking holes, not shooting the puck and getting it back.”

The Sharks will open up a three-game homestand on Tuesday with the Ducks. There is work to do before that.

“We’re 3-3. That’s the good news,” DeBoer said. “I think we’ve played some good hockey, but we have a lot of things we’ve got to clean up, too.”

Jones said: “Obviously it wasn’t the way we wanted to end the road trip. We’ll bounce back, and we’ve got a lot of games left.”

Sharks still searching for answers after 3-2 loss to Red Wings

Sharks still searching for answers after 3-2 loss to Red Wings

SAN JOSE – On paper, the Sharks’ problems over their six-game losing streak may appear easy to fix – especially since they had previously won six games in a row and were sitting atop the Western Conference standings just before the slide.

But according to forward Logan Couture, things are more complex than that.

“If it was easily fixable, we wouldn’t be on a six-game losing streak,” he told the media matter-of-a-factly following Team Teal’s 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. “We’ve got to fix it. There are certain things that we need to do better.”

From not having enough jump from the drop of the puck to giving up too many breakaway opportunities, the Sharks look like a very different team than they did a couple of weeks ago. The loss to Detroit is the third consecutive game the Sharks have been beaten by a team out of playoff contention. While the team is obviously banged up and trying to get healthy before the playoffs, the current dip in their performance can’t continue.

“We’re too good of a team to go on a slide like this,” Couture said. “These losses at home are not good, especially this one tonight. I thought we’d come with a better effort.”

San Jose did put up a fight late in the game, finding the back of the net twice to cut Detroit’s 3-0 lead to 3-2. It was an effort Sharks’ head coach Peter DeBoer wanted to see much earlier in the contest.

“I didn’t think we had great energy until the third period,” he said. “I thought we had desperation in the third that we needed for 60 minutes. We only came with 20 of it.”

Detroit, on the other hand, was able to capitalize on its breakaway opportunities right from the first shift of the game. Dylan Larkin got the Red Wings on the board just 38-seconds into the contest.

“We gave them way too much respect. We sat back too much,” Evander Kane summarized. “We’ve got to get there first, we’ve got to get there quicker.”

Since this is the longest losing streak the Sharks have been on this season, the press asked DeBoer if there was a mental component creeping into the team’s game. To DeBoer, no matter what it is, the team can only grind out of it.

“I don’t know if it’s mental,” he admitted. “It’s work. It’s desperation. I don’t know if there’s a complacency about where we’re sitting in the standings or what. But, we’ve got to get out of it. And the only way to get out of it is to work out of it.”

[RELATED: What we learned from Sharks' loss to Red Wings]

They have precisely six games left in the regular season to get that work in.

“If you’re going to go through something like this you’re better off doing it now than in two weeks,” DeBoer said. “But we’ve got to get healthy and guys have to get to another level here. It’s that time of year.”

Sharks takeaways: What we learned from disappointing loss to Red Wings

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USATSI

Sharks takeaways: What we learned from disappointing loss to Red Wings

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – With both the Calgary Flames and Vegas Golden Knights losing their respective contests Monday evening, the Sharks had a prime opportunity to gain some ground in the Pacific Division standings. But their efforts proved to be too little, too late as Team Teal dropped their sixth straight game, 3-2, to the Detroit Red Wings.

Here are three takeaways from Monday’s game:

The offense didn't get going in time

As the Sharks have done for much of the season, they outshot their opponent.

While trailing 1-0 partway through the second stanza, the Sharks got some really good zone time and began putting extra pressure on Detroit netminder Jonathan Bernier. Nevertheless, San Jose couldn’t find the back of the net. Even as Sharks coach Peter DeBoer threw the line combos into the blender, they didn’t light the lamp until Evander Kane’s third-period goal. At that point, the Red Wings already had a 3-0 lead.

To be fair, Bernier made some pretty good saves, especially the toe stop on Gustav Nyquist’s back-handed attempt on the power play. But the Sharks are going to be facing much tougher goalies than him during this last stretch and into the playoffs. With just six games left in the regular season, the offense needs to get going right from puck drop.

Shaky defense

San Jose’s all-around defensive play has been shoddy as the Sharks' losing streak has gone on, and Monday’s game was another example of that.

There were neutral zone turnovers and hiccups this blue line wasn’t making at the midway point of the season when they really found their game and began stringing wins together. Part of the defense’s troubles is an offshoot of how the whole team is banged up and not playing at 100 percent. It’s also hard to ignore that Radim Simek’s presence is greatly missed.

Whatever the solution is, San Jose needs to find it fast. A team can’t make it out of the first round of the playoffs without playing a tighter defensive game.

Level of concern?

Yes, this team is dealing with injury and illness and is trying to get healthy for the playoffs. And after taking last Friday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks into overtime, it really looked like San Jose was going to start turning things around. However, Monday's game looked like a step backward – against a team that has been eliminated from playoff contention, no less.

After Friday’s overtime loss in Anaheim, Timo Meier told the media it was better to go through these struggles now as opposed to once the playoffs start. While you can’t disagree with that logic, the continued losing streak can’t be good for the team’s confidence.