There was plenty of chatter and worry taking over social media Sunday night and well into Monday after the Sharks' disappointing loss to the Ottawa Senators. And rightfully so. San Jose has only tallied three out of a possible eight points on their current road trip and the challenges ahead of them aren't getting any easier.
Just 12 games into the season, Sharks fans are expressing a plethora of concerns they have regarding the current state of the team. So, NBC Sports California is taking this time to discuss some of those areas that many fans are worried about the most.
While we couldn't address every grievance that was directed this way -- high beer prices at The Tank are out of this outlet's jurisdiction -- here are a few that appear to be common among the fan base.
Lack of communication and execution on offense
why is a talented roster underperforming from top to bottom.? where is the 5v5 offense going to come from? why is there still such a lack of team chemistry? why is our penalty kill so good and everything so bad? and on and on and on and on— s. (@skjeireb) October 28, 2019
This is the big one, and probably the biggest head-scratcher as far as the Sharks' scoring problems are concerned. With as talented of an offense as San Jose has, they aren't regularly executing plays in their offensive zone when they play at even strength. Sure, taking too many penalties can take the rhythm out of their five-on-five game, but that isn't the only reason the Sharks aren't doing enough -- especially when they could be gaining momentum from having such strong special teams.
San Jose's offensive woes come from a couple of different places. For starters, they haven't found the right line combinations to roll four lines. There is chemistry scattered throughout the forward attack -- Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane, for example -- but the majority of the lineup still isn't clicking as it should be.
It doesn't help that the Sharks' big goal-scorers aren't finding the back of the net. Logan Couture only has one goal on the season so far and Timo Meier, who became one of the team's offensive spark plugs last season, is sitting on a measly four points. Having more than one of your big guns on the schneid is going to kill any team's offense.
Really, outside of Kane's power-play markers, the Sharks big scorers aren't producing enough. No wonder they are at the bottom of the league when it comes to even-strength production.
As far as chemistry goes, continuing the line shuffle is the only immediate option. That, and San Jose's offense has to at the very least be better at establishing a forecheck and winning battles. That physical kind of play up front is what helped San Jose win games last season. Why they can't establish it on a nightly basis is pretty mindboggling.
Ice time for some of the veterans
Ice time utilization by PDB. He's running our veteran group into the ground while our younger players are averaging 5 minutes TOI. Then he wonders why we have a lack of effort, especially late in periods. He either needs to reevaluate his strategy or leave.— douglasthugless (@douglasthugles1) October 28, 2019
This concern is more geared toward the defense and the fact that Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson are logging ridiculous minutes every night. As head coach Peter DeBoer told reporters in Toronto last Friday, giving these two players big minutes is a result of Radim Simek and Dalton Prout being injured, though Simek is starting a conditioning stint with the Barracuda, this could change soon.
There's also the issue with Tim Heed not playing to the level he needs to and DeBoer has made it pretty clear he doesn't trust Heed out on the ice for very long.
The long and short of it is that this won't last the rest of the season. Burns and Karlsson won't continue averaging over 25 minutes per game once the blue line gets healthy bodies back to work with. Hopefully, for the Sharks' sake, that happens sooner rather than later so Burns and Karlsson aren't gassed before the halfway point of the season.
Calls for a coaching shakeup
It has to be coaching at this point. These are the same mistakes, inconsistencies that we have seen the past 3 years. STL/BOS/LA fired their coaches mid season and won cups in the same year. This team needs a huge jolt and sometimes a coaching change is what the team needs— Jaws Territory (@jawsterritory) October 28, 2019
This is one of those things that comes up any time any team doesn't play well. And there has certainly been more than one occasion over the last couple of years when a Sharks' losing streak has brought out the "fire the coach" crowd. (Last season, it was also around the time San Jose suffered a loss at the hands of the lowly Senators.)
As much as some of you out there are dead set on the coaching being the No. 1 problem here, it's not. The coaching might not be completely blameless, but unless DeBoer is telling players to take their feet off the gas and purposely give up big goals at the end of every second period, San Jose's 4-7-1 record isn't all on him.
As far as whether or not there needs to be a new boss behind the bench, don't expect there to be a personnel change this early in the season. Especially in regards to a coach who turned the team around last season and took them to a Western Conference Final.
If the Sharks stay in this hole for too much longer, then the conversation might change. But as of right now, it's highly unlikely DeBoer is going anywhere.
Questions regarding leadership
My top concern is how this team responds to adversity with Couture leading the way? They say all the right things, yet nothing has changed.— Atina (@MiniHulk839) October 28, 2019
There is some criticism out there regarding Couture's candidness in the wake of the team's struggles, which is honestly a little surprising. The first-year captain has been in a leadership role for the Sharks for multiple seasons now and has continuously held the team, and himself, accountable when things aren't going well. He'll even break down plays and tell you exactly where things went wrong.
Frankly, it would be far more worrisome if he started sugar-coating things.
Leadership doesn't fall squarely in Couture's lap, either. As NBC Sports California discussed before the start of the season, his supporting cast of alternate captains has just as important of a job when it comes to leading the team. After a bad game in Ottawa, the Sharks need all of their leaders to rally the troops.
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The whole Joe Pavelski thing
We need Pavs. Team has no heart.— Christian Petersen (@Christiankp21) October 28, 2019
This concern keeps popping up. Unfortunately, there isn't a solution that's going to make fans happy.
Yes, Team Teal no doubt misses Pavelski's scoring prowess and his presence both on and off the ice. But he isn't a Shark anymore.
And 12 games into a season with a bevy of problems, the only options fans have is to move on.