Sharks

Three takeaways: Sharks still not getting enough offense

Three takeaways: Sharks still not getting enough offense

GLENDALE, Az. – The Sharks’ second loss in Arizona in the month of November, this one a 3-2 overtime defeat, brought the club’s longest road trip to an end on Saturday. Three takeaways from the loss…

1 – Shots aplenty, but goals still not coming

The Sharks managed a season high 45 shots on goal, but were only able to get two of them past Mike Smith in the third period. They are 25th in the NHL with 2.28 goals-per game.

While the general consensus in the dressing room afterwards was that they were pleased with their effort, at what point does it become concerning that the scoring just hasn’t been there?

“It’s tough. It’s a fine line between wanting to believe that things are turning around and you’re doing the right things, [and] the frustration that settles in when you’re not putting the puck in the back of the net,” Paul Martin said. 

“I think all the guys in here have high expectations as far as how we want to play. I think guys put a lot of pressure on themselves. I think we believe in here that when we play our game like we did for most of the game tonight, that we’ll find a way to win.”

2 – Missing Hertl

Tomas Hertl’s absence for at least the next couple weeks means there is a void at the third line center position. Against the Coyotes, Pete DeBoer began with Patrick Marleau skating there between Mikkel Boedker and Matt Nieto, and it wasn’t a very effective group (Boedker, in particular, continues to bring down just about any line that DeBoer puts him on).

The coach changed it up in the third period, replacing Kevin Labanc on the top line with Marleau. It’s difficult to predict how the coach will deploy his forwards against the Devils on Monday, but it may be time to give some other guys a shot. Barracuda forwards Nikolay Goldobin, Timo Meier, Barclay Goodrow and Danny O’Regan are all playing well and putting up good offensive numbers in the net in the AHL.

“Someone will step up in [Hertl’s] role,” Tommy Wingels said. “Everyone is going to have to pick up their game a little bit. If he’s lost, it’s a big blow to the team, but we’ll find a way to get through it.”

3 – Returning home

While their 9-8-1 record is nothing to crow about, the Sharks do have their two longest road trips of the season in the rear view mirror. Considering they’ve played better at home than on the road so far, they could make up some points they’ve left on the table to this point, starting this week.

“[We’ll] spend a little bit of time [at home] and try and create that home ice [advantage],” Joe Pavelski said. 

“We haven’t had much time there. There’s a little bit of disconnect from the fans just because we’ve been gone. We want to get back there, we want to get the crowd going where we score a goal and the place erupts on your side. Those are good feelings, and we’re looking forward to getting home.”

Martin said: “We’ve let a couple slip away that I think we should have won or could have won that will be big points down the stretch. It’s something that we’re going to have to make up now.”

Sharks 'just weren't good enough' vs. Coyotes in first loss of 2019

Sharks 'just weren't good enough' vs. Coyotes in first loss of 2019

You have to hand it to the Sharks, they put on quite the show to kick off 2019. They’ve shown incredible growth since the start of the season, and battled through a jam-packed schedule to defeat some difficult teams and put together a stellar winning streak in the process.

That in of itself probably makes their first loss of the new year -- a 6-3 defeat at the hands of the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night -- a letdown.

“We just weren’t good enough,” Sharks forward Logan Couture told the media in Arizona, “and it’s tough because we were on such a nice run.”

The Sharks were, in fact, shooting for their eighth win in a row. They had just beaten the Pittsburgh Penguins the night before, in arguably one of their most complete 60-minute efforts this season. Playing a lower-level team like the Coyotes afterward can, of course, result in a little bit of a letdown.

However, the Sharks had yet to fall into that trap in 2019, defeating the lowly Los Angeles Kings after a win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Ottawa Senators two nights after beating the Vegas Golden Knights. This is a team that, clearly, knows not to overlook lesser competition.

But even knowing the difficulties such a game can present, the Sharks had trouble early against the Coyotes.

“We knew coming in that we had to get our emotional level back engaged again after last night,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer acknowledged. “We didn’t do it quickly enough or for long enough.”

[RELATED: Sharks GM says trade deadline deals must strike right balance]

It didn’t help either that San Jose was playing Arizona on the tail end of yet another back-to-back. All three times these teams have met this season have been on the second night of a Sharks back-to-back. The Coyotes, on the other hand, were well-rested after losing to the Calgary Flames on Sunday.

That extra time showed on Wednesday. 

“You have to give [Arizona] credit,” DeBoer continued. “They were rested, and they played with a lot of energy and won a lot of battles.” 

San Jose has battles of their own to fight, and no time to dwell on the end of a season-long winning streak. The Sharks entered Wednesday just one point behind the Calgary Flames in the Pacific Division, but fell back another point after the Flames lost to the Buffalo Sabres in overtime.

Plus, they'll have another emotionally-charged game coming up on Saturday when they travel to Tampa Bay for a rematch with the Lightning. San Jose’s already beaten the Bolts once before, and a loss to the Coyotes shouldn’t deter them from thinking they can do it again.

“We’re not happy about this loss, but we’ve got to keep doing what we’ve done before,” Timo Meier said. “We’ve done some good things, we’ve played some great hockey. We’ve got to continue.”

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in streak-ending 6-3 loss to Coyotes

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AP

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in streak-ending 6-3 loss to Coyotes

BOX SCORE

All good things must come to an end. Yes, even the Sharks' winning streak. 

San Jose made things interesting Wednesday night in the desert against the Arizona Coyotes. Evander Kane stayed hot, Kevin Labanc got off the schneid, and Logan Couture got a late power-play goal to keep it close. But the Sharks came up just a little bit short, falling 6-3 to the Desert Dogs.

Here are three takeaways from Wednesday’s game:

You have to give the Coyotes some credit

Arizona may be occupying the cellar of the Pacific Division, but that didn’t mean San Jose could come into their house and steal a victory uncontested. The Coyotes played a smart game on Wednesday night, jumping on the Sharks when they showed signs of getting tired and not giving them a ton of room to build up momentum.

This is something we’ve seen from San Jose’s opponents since they got hot at the start of December. Even teams who aren’t as good as the Sharks – like the Ottawa Senators and Wednesday’s opponent, the Coyotes – have turned up the heat against San Jose.

[RELATED: Doug Wilson says Sharks' moves at trade deadline must strike right balance]

Aaron Dell’s performance

Yes, Dell should have stopped Lawson Crouse's game-open goal. But after that he really settled in, even bailing out a couple of his teammates before the first 20 minutes expired. His most impressive saves occurred later in the game.

The first, with a little over five minutes left in the second stanza when he froze Richard Panik with a magnificent glove save.

Then, there was the third-period stop when he kicked Vinnie Hinostroza’s chance out of the way.

Dell didn’t have as much help in front of him. San Jose was playing on the second night of a back-to-back – why are they always playing Arizona on the tail end of a back-to-back – with travel. That’s in addition to playing a tough game against the Pittsburgh Penguins the night before. The Sharks didn’t look their sharpest, but Dell, who hadn’t played the night before, did his best to keep his team in it.

It’s almost time for Timo Time, right?

This has been a subject of Twitter chatter for a few games now. Timo Meier has now gone a career-high 16 games without scoring. In the last few contests, his level of play has really come up a notch as he tries to snap the drought. And that’s saying something, because if you have watched Meier play this season, you know he’s a player who doesn’t sit back on his heels.

On Wednesday in Arizona, he led all Sharks’ skaters with seven shots on goal. Make no mistake, Meier is primed to break out. Heck, getting a goal or two on Saturday in Tampa Bay against the Lightning would be a nice way to bust his slump.