After the Sharks' second loss of the season last Friday, defenseman Erik Karlsson said his team needed to play smarter.
"I think that we work hard, we just don't work smart," he summarized after a 5-1 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights. "The guys that we have in here, we know that we have to be better. Play better hockey, that's what it's all about."
Two games later, San Jose still has the same problem.
The Sharks showed signs of life in Tuesday's 5-2 loss to the Nashville Predators, their fourth straight to start 2019-20, but undisciplined play still is a problem. Four games in, San Jose still figuring out how to play smart for a full 60 minutes.
Turnovers continue to be an issue for the Sharks, who have had major trouble holding onto the puck all season. This was at the forefront Tuesday -- despite the strong second period -- as the Predators registered 13 takeaways on the evening and the Sharks gave the puck away an additional nine times. Even after San Jose had some extended shifts in the offensive zone and put pressure on Preds netminder Pekka Rinne, small mistakes ended up in the back of Martin Jones' net.
It isn't just miscues with the puck that are hurting the Sharks, either. The Sharks haven't quite tapped into their physicality this season, and they are instead taking avoidable penalties.
The Sharks went to the sin bin six times Tuesday, and Brenden Dillon's slash on Filip Forsberg was one example of a preventable call. Making matters worse, Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic gave the puck away on the ensuing power play, and Roman Josi gave the PRedators a 2-0 lead. Long story short: Trips to the penalty box aren't helping San Jose's case for playing a smarter game.
These mistakes can't all be put on the new players the Sharks have added to their lineup. Many of the mistakes on the ice are being made by the veteran players, and those have set the tone in every game this season.
At this point, you have to figure that some changes are on the horizon for the Sharks. San Jose already announced that Patrick Marleau will rejoin the team, but that move could just be the start.. While some movement could help the Sharks gain some offensive firepower, the collective group still has to start playing more disciplined.
The season might only be four games old, but the winless Sharks need to quickly find a remedy for their mistakes before it's too late.