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.”