Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 5-0 Game 5 home loss to Blues


Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 5-0 Game 5 home loss to Blues


SAN JOSE -- You might’ve had a feeling that Sunday’s game would be a doozy when Evander Kane rang the puck off the goal post just 10 seconds into it. But it’s unlikely anybody was prepared for how badly the Sharks would be outmuscled and out-chanced as they fell 5-0 to the Blues in Game 5 of the Western Conference final.

The Sharks now trail three games to two in the best-of-seven series, with a potentially decisive Game 6 scheduled for Tuesday night in St. Louis.

Here are three takeaways from Game 5 at SAP Center.

Another second period to forget

One of the Sharks' biggest complaints about their own game has been that they don’t play a solid 60 minutes. Even when they won Game 3 in overtime, they criticized themselves for giving up the lead in the second period. But they couldn't have played much worse in the second period of Game 5.

In addition to being outshot 20-6, the Sharks continued to move sloppily through the neutral zone and turn pucks over, making their job even more difficult. They were pushed around by the Blues for the entire 20 minutes.

The Karlsson Effect

Erik Karlsson plays a huge role for the Sharks, both offensively and defensively. The Sharks defenseman's absence definitely was felt when he skated for just 3 minutes and 3 seconds in the second period, then didn’t come out at all for the third.

Simply put, a healthy Karlsson makes San Jose better. And with Karlsson off the ice, the Sharks couldn't stop the push from the Blues' offense.

San Jose has preached a “next man up” message since the start of the regular season, and coach Peter DeBoer has called for more players to step up. That effort wasn’t there Sunday, which is worrisome because …

The injuries are piling up

As if Karlsson not taking the ice in the third period was enough of a concern, the Sharks lost even more bodies. Tomas Hertl didn’t see any playing time in the third period, and Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi both exited the game after sustaining injuries.

Without knowing right away how healthy any of those players are, there’s immediate wonder if the Sharks will be short some key players for Game 6. Will Tim Heed pencil into the lineup for Karlsson? Will Lukas Radil or Dylan Gambrell be part of San Jose’s offense?

The Sharks have played through bumps and bruises for most of their lengthy playoff run. But how many more of those bumps and bruises can they take and still be successful?

Sharks free-agency decisions: Should forward Micheal Haley stay or go?

Sharks free-agency decisions: Should forward Micheal Haley stay or go?

When the Sharks claimed Micheal Haley off waivers this past winter, everyone wondered when he would get into his first scrap.

He wasted no time, taking on Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby the very next day. 

After leaving San Jose in 2017, there was no better way for Haley to announce his return.

Love him or hate him, Haley comes as advertised. He's a no-nonsense kind of player whose job is to keep opponents in check when they try knocking his teammates around. And when it comes to laying down the big hits, he does so without hesitation.

Now, the 33-year-old forward is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Here's a look at why he might stay in San Jose, and why he potentially already has played his last game in teal.

Why he could stay

Fans have strong opinions toward Haley, but teammates and coaches love having him in the mix. San Jose wouldn't have brought him back otherwise. Even though Haley wasn't an every-day player, coach Peter DeBoer liked having him in his arsenal.

While many aren't fond of Haley's physical style of play, there's no denying he brings a level of toughness that most of the Sharks' lineup doesn't have. For San Jose to keep up with some of the West's meaner teams, it helps to have a player who doesn't mind playing with some grit.

Why he could go

With the opening of free agency rapidly approaching, San Jose will be busy moving players around in an effort to create salary-cap space to lock down some of its main players. With space being created so the Sharks can sign those high-priority UFAs, it isn't likely Haley would receive a long-term deal as a utility player.

The Sharks also need more skilled players in their bottom six. While having a physical player like Haley benefited the Sharks during their hard-hitting playoff series against the Vegas Golden Knights, what they really need next season is depth scoring. Haley tallied just three points in 19 regular-season games with San Jose, which doesn't quite help.

[RELATED: Sharks might be willing to trade Dillon]

The verdict

The Sharks might love having a player of Haley's caliber on their roster, but it seems more likely he'll play for a different team next season.

San Jose has a lot of work to do in order to sign some of its big-name players who are about to hit the market, so a bottom-six skater such as Haley won't take top priority. Additionally, the Sharks need more depth scoring after their bottom two lines had trouble producing deep into the playoffs.

So, with those two elements taking top priority, Haley's second tour in teal might be over.

NHL rumors: Sharks might trade Brenden Dillon for salary-cap relief


NHL rumors: Sharks might trade Brenden Dillon for salary-cap relief

The Sharks are in a bit of a pickle.

San Jose has several important unrestricted and restricted free agents it wants to bring back, but not a lot of salary-cap space to re-sign everyone.

So, one possible solution is to trade out some salaries to make the numbers work.

One player that could be a casualty is defenseman Brenden Dillon.

The Athletic's Kevin Kurz confirmed an Ottawa Sun report that the Sharks "might be willing to deal" Dillon in order to free up cap space to re-sign captain Joe Pavelski.

Dillon is scheduled to make $3.27 million next season, in the final year of his contract

Dillon has formed a formidable defense with Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, but the Sharks might be able to absorb the loss of Dillon with the emergence of Radim Simek.

[RELATED: DeBoer optimistic Pavelski will re-sign]

The NHL on Saturday set the 2019-20 salary cap at $81.5 million. With $66,657,417 in salary on the books, the Sharks at the moment have $14,842,583 in cap space to try to re-sign their 10 free agents.

Sending out Dillon isn't optimal, but if the Sharks want to keep guys like Pavelski, Timo Meier, Joonas Donskoi and Kevin Labanc, they might have to bite the bullet.