Sharks

Sharks' health to key players major concern after Game 5 loss to Blues

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USATSI

Sharks' health to key players major concern after Game 5 loss to Blues

SAN JOSE – Sure, many players at this point in the Stanley Cup playoffs are playing through their fair share of bumps and bruises. For the Sharks, those ailments appear to be piling up – and it creates some big questions for San Jose ahead of their next game.

The Sharks' bench looked pretty thin midway through the third period of their 5-0 loss to the Blues on Sunday with four injured players – Erik Karlsson, Tomas Hertl, Joe Pavelski, and Joonas Donskoi – absent from game action. Sharks coach Peter DeBoer didn’t have an immediate update on any of the four after the game, but there’s already concern about San Jose’s health as they are now on the brink of elimination.

The Sharks were already short a major weapon at the start of the third period of Game 5 when Karlsson wasn’t on the bench with his teammates, which was concerning since his health was already in question. Then it became apparent center Hertl was missing from the bench as well – a scary sight after he sustained a high hit from Ivan Barbashev halfway through the first frame that went unpenalized.

“I saw the Hertl hit, I just watched the replay,” Logan Couture said. “Yeah, that’s a tough one. But they had one earlier in Game 3, I believe on [Justin] Braun, and nothing happened. So they can do it again, right?”

DeBoer pointed to the hit on Hertl and the lack of call as a momentum-changer for San Jose, who was trailing 1-0 at that point in the first period, but still very much in the game.

“Arguably a five-minute major on Tommy Hertl, if you get that – that’s a momentum-changing play right there,” the coach said.

Whether the hit was the reason Hertl was missing from the Sharks’ bench in the third period is still unknown. Nevertheless, San Jose was down two skaters before both Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi left the ice after absorbing big hits from the rival Blues. 

At that point in the game, the Sharks let their emotions take over and found themselves in a world of penalty trouble.

“When Pav got hit high, we lost our composure there in the third period,” DeBoer said. “Not our finest moment, but I understand where that emotion is coming from.”

Of course, the penalties made the Sharks’ job even harder. Sharks analyst Jamie Baker pointed out that being on extended penalty kills when the bench is already short is extra demanding on a team that’s chasing the game.

“They were short so many players in the third period, that’s taxing the rest of the guys, and then they were taking penalties,” Baker said. “So the fatigue factor almost doubles down.”

Donskoi returned to the bench toward the very end of the game, though the Sharks were already down 5-0 at that point with little chance of bouncing back.

As the focus shifts from one game to the next, the Sharks now have to face some serious questions when it comes to the health of their lineup. 

[RELATED: Pavelski, Karlsson leave Game 5 vs. Blues with injuries]

“For Game 6, the health of the players who didn’t play in the third period is going to be topic No. 1,” Baker said. “And if they can’t play, who’s going to go in there and how are they going to go in and win in St. Louis?”

“We’ve just got to regroup,” DeBoer said. “We’ve got to go on and win a game.”

Vegas Knights troll Sharks, LA Kings after making 2019-20 NHL playoffs

Vegas Knights troll Sharks, LA Kings after making 2019-20 NHL playoffs

You don't kick a team when they are down.

Clearly, the Vegas Golden Knights didn't get that memo.

During the NHL's Return To Play announcement Tuesday, the Golden Knights sent out a tweet directed at the Sharks and Los Angeles Kings, two of its Pacific Division rivals.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said that 24 of the 31 teams will qualify for the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs. Seven teams, including the Sharks and Kings, will not resume playing and will prepare for the NHL draft lottery and the 2020-21 season.

When the NHL was paused on March 12 due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the Sharks held the worst record in the Western Conference.

Adding insult to injury, the Sharks won't even get to keep their lottery draft pick as it will go to the Ottawa Senators as part of the Erik Karlsson trade.

[RELATED: What's next for Sharks?]

While the Sharks and Kings sit at home, Vegas will be one of the top four seeds in the Western Conference, and will play in a round robin tournament with the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars to determine seeding.

Sharks fans didn't need another reason to root against the Golden Knights, but Vegas gave it to them.

Doug Wilson reacts to Sharks' season ending as NHL prepares to return

Doug Wilson reacts to Sharks' season ending as NHL prepares to return

On Tuesday, the Sharks' disappointing season officially ended.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the league would go straight to the playoffs when it returns, with a modified 24-team format after the league suspended its season in March due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Sharks were 29-36-5 when the season was suspended and in last place in the Western Conference.

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson understands why the decision to end the regular season was made given the current state of the public health crisis.

"While we are disappointed that the San Jose Sharks will not be able to complete our 2019-20 season, we understand and respect the decision made by the NHL and the NHL Players' Association. We are already well into our extensive season review process and will use this opportunity to build on what we have already started to ensure our club is ready for the start of the 2020-21 season," Wilson said in a statement.

The Sharks now will face a long offseason in which they must try to quickly rebuild in order to get back to Stanley Cup contention. The Sharks will face a number of questions this offseason, and how they answer them will go along way in propelling them back to the top of the Western Conference.

[RELATED: Sharks' road back to Stanley Cup contention filled with many hurdles]

When the 2020-21 season will start still is up in the air. The public health crisis will determine when it can be played and what that will look like.

For now, the Sharks will put a bow on a disappointing season and head into a long offseason with many questions to answer.