Sharks

Sharks have come long way since first meeting with Jets four weeks ago

sharksjetsap.jpg
AP

Sharks have come long way since first meeting with Jets four weeks ago

SAN JOSE - The last time the Sharks geared up to face the Winnipeg Jets, head coach Peter DeBoer had some choice words for his team, who were 4-8-1 through the first 13 games of the season at the time.

 "I just think we've been a soft team through 10 to 12 games and that doesn't win you many games in this league," DeBoer said on the morning of Nov. 1. "I think as a group we're a little pissed off where we're at. We're a little embarrassed."

Since losing to Winnipeg that night 3-2, San Jose has won nine out of 11 games and has climbed out of the Pacific Division cellar. The Sharks now are back where they expected to be at the 25-game mark.

Now, they need to keep it going against a tough Western Conference rival.

DeBoer contributed a big part of the Sharks' success since their last meeting with the Jets to finally playing like a team.

"It was about getting everybody pulling in the same direction," he told reporters Wednesday morning ahead of San Jose's rematch with Winnipeg. "A lot of times when you go through those things, your natural reaction, especially for great players, is that they're going to try to fix it themselves. And that never works."

The month of November has, in fact, showcased a Sharks team that clearly is working better as a unit. Even with big players being sidelined with injuries throughout the month, San Jose has found different ways to churn out victories.

"We started to get back to playing as a group and as a team," DeBoer said. "Nothing we haven't done here in the last four years. We have a track record with this group that we know works. They just have to buy in and do it."

Wednesday's game gives the Sharks a chance at redemption after the disappointing loss they suffered to the Jets on Nov. 1.

In that game, San Jose dominated puck possession and clocked a whopping 53 shots on goal. Tomas Hertl tied the score at two less than a minute into the third frame and the Sharks kept the pressure in Winnipeg's zone, but Jets netminder Connor Hellebuyck wouldn't budge. The next goal, which also was the game-winner, ended up in the back of San Jose's net instead.

The Jets now return to the South Bay playing solid hockey themselves, having gone 7-2-1 in their last 10 contests. 

"They're playing well," DeBoer said. "We saw what Helllebuyck did the last time he was in here. He absolutely stood on his head and we have to be ready for that."

This game also gives the Sharks the chance to clean up their mistakes from their Monday night contest against the Kings. San Jose saw a 3-0 lead erased by the rival LA squad and, although San Jose went on to win 4-3 in overtime, the Sharks were not happy with how they came undone in the third period and let the opposition take over. 

[RELATED: Sharks continue to win despite too many trips to sin bin]

If the Sharks are going to keep winning games, especially Wednesday night against the Jets, they have to remedy those mistakes.

"We want to keep this thing rolling, we're feeling good about it," DeBoer said. "We don't like how we played in the third against LA so we need to make sure we learn from that. It's another chance to close out a team above of us in the Western Conference."

Sharks continue to suffer from lack of scoring, abundance of penalties

sharkssidebarusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Sharks continue to suffer from lack of scoring, abundance of penalties

Evander Kane called it "interesting." Head coach Peter DeBoer called it "messy." No matter what word you choose, everyone can agree that the Sharks' 3-1 loss to the Predators on Tuesday got downright ugly.

San Jose had what was probably its best defensive game of the month in Nashville, being stingy and not giving the opposing Preds a lot of room to work. But with a scoreless tie after two periods, tempers began to fly, and what followed was a tsunami of penalties that ultimately determined the Sharks' fate.

The Sharks felt like they were in this one. But a plethora of penalties late in the second period and early in the third changed that. A whopping 39 penalty minutes later, San Jose had dropped the fourth and final game of its road trip. 

"We're still taking too many penalties," DeBoer told reporters after the loss. "I thought we pressed really hard in the second, didn't give them anything. I thought we deserved to be up going into the third and we didn't get rewarded for the work in the second. And they're at home, I thought they pushed hard. Pushed us back early in the third, got us on our heels a little bit. Really, when you get into a game like that, whoever scores first is probably going to win."

San Jose actually went on the penalty kill just 47 seconds into the game when Barclay Goodrow went to the box for slashing. But the real wave of penalties came late in the second period after Goodrow and Calle Jarnkrok received matching minors. Tempers were unhinged from that point on -- heck even the officials were fired up, as the microphone caught one using explicit language while reprimanding Nashville's Roman Josi. 

[RELATED: Sharks' Simek to miss two weeks for minor knee procedure]

The biggest tussle, however, took place in the final seconds of the second period when Dan Hamhuis cross-checked Kane and then Auston Watson jumped in as the third man in. Though Kane was defending himself, the officials tagged him with 19 penalty minutes, essentially taking him out of the remainder of the contest. 

"I don't understand the 19 minutes and how that was made up," Kane remarked when asked about the scuffle. "There was a lot of that all night going back and forth."

"Tough for him to sit for that long," DeBoer said in Kane's defense. "Hamhuis started the whole thing and then Watson comes in and grabs him and we end up with the short end of it. But it's a messy situation, I'm not going to second guess the call."

Regardless of how many penalties the Sharks racked up, they still needed to find a way to score more goals. They only found the back of the net once Tuesday, and only scored once in each of their previous two games. Despite doing some good work in the offensive zone, San Jose isn't going to reap the rewards without scoring goals to make up for its mistakes.

"You've got to find a way to win and we've got to find a way to score," DeBoer summarized. "I think that's the story of the trip."

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in contentious 3-1 loss to Predators

sharkstakeawaysusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in contentious 3-1 loss to Predators

BOX SCORE

It wasn't full of offensive firepower, but what Tuesday's game between the Sharks and Predators lacked in goals, it made up for with flying fists.

Unfortunately, despite the fiery matchup and an entertaining “hot mic” moment, San Jose still couldn’t find a way to turn its fortunes around. The Sharks concluded their battle at Bridgestone Arena with a 3-1 loss, ending their road trip without a single win.

Here are three takeaways from Tuesday's game:

A plethora of penalties

With the game scoreless through the first two periods, the two sides became visibly agitated with one another. But rather than take out their frustrations out on the scoreboard, they took it out on each other. By the end of second stanza, the Sharks led the charge with 31 penalty minutes to Nashville’s 29.

While the Preds were the ones with multiple players simultaneously in the sin bin, it was Sharks winger Evander Kane who racked up a staggering 19 penalty minutes resulting from a tussle with Nashville's Auston Watson. Being without the power forward for almost the entire third period visibly took its toll on San Jose, which continued its dance in and out of the box into the third frame.

The PK was overworked 

San Jose's league-leading penalty kill wasn't its normal self last weekend, but it looked strong and sturdy Tuesday night in Nashville. It was a good thing, too, considering how many times the Sharks found themselves shorthanded, particularly early on.

Unfortunately, the abundance of penalties eventually wore San Jose’s PK down and Nashville was able to find the back of the net on a power play with less than 10 minutes left to play. It's been said before, but clearly it needs to be said again: The Sharks need to clean their game up and give the penalty kill a break so they don’t burn out.

[RELATED: Sharks' Simek to miss two weeks for minor knee procedure]

A better goalie matchup 

One of San Jose's biggest problems over the course of the road trip was that Martin Jones was outplayed by the netminder on the other end of the ice. That was not the case Tuesday night in Nashville, as Jones and Juuse Saros traded off making big saves up until Nick Bonino put the Predators up 1-0 in the third frame.

Jones had a particularly nice sprawling save on a four-minute penalty kill in the first period, which could have put the Sharks in a 1-0 hole pretty quickly. Perhaps the standard is too low for a team of San Jose's talent level, but after the rough weekend the Sharks had, they deserve credit for getting out of the first period with a scoreless tie. Avoiding an early deficit clearly gave San Jose a boost of energy, which persisted throughout the game. Well, at least until all of the fights started.