SAN JOSE -- The Sharks aren't quite at the halfway point of their 2019-20 season just yet. But with a four-day holiday break getting underway after Sunday's game, it's a good time to take a look back at the first 38 games of the season.
That reflection process can't be too fun for San Jose.
After a remarkable recovery in the month of November, the Sharks have gone 1-8-1 in their last 10 games, dropping their third straight game in a loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday evening.
Logan Couture, who is not one to mince words, told reporters after the game that it's time for the team to take note.
"We have a break here and I think guys are going their separate ways to see families, but everyone's got to take a look in the mirror and decide," the captain said. "What do you want to bring for the second half of the year right now? What do want to accomplish as a hockey player in the NHL this year? A lot of guys haven't had good years. A lot of guys have had letdowns from last year. So, I think (there needs to be) some soul-searching in this room. Everyone needs to be better."
The letdown over the last month is especially disappointing given how well San Jose faired in the month of November. But through December, the Sharks have seemingly reverted back to "finding ways to lose" like they were in the first month of the season. They are having trouble scoring goals and defensive breakdowns are occurring far too often.
For a team that has played together for a long time, this ongoing trend of losing games late and not being able to score is unacceptable.
"We're a veteran team," Couture noted. "I'd understand if we were dressing 10 rookies or 12 rookies. But you can count the number of rookies on this team who were dressed tonight on one hand."
San Jose's most glaring negative trend as of late is playing well for the majority of a game but committing mistakes in the third period that cost them.
The habit of giving up a late goal and not being able to counter it has become a regular occurrence, one that has been exacerbated by the Sharks not being able to generate any momentum on power-play opportunities late.
"We're making the mistakes that are turning into big mistakes and they're going into the back of our net at bad times," Couture said. "It needs to be a lot better -- discipline, just smart decisions with the puck. Smart reads on rushes. We're just not doing it right now."
When the Sharks return from their four-game break, they have three contests before the end of 2019. At just 34 points on the season -- which puts them in a three-way tie with the Kings and Ducks for last in the Western Conference -- the Sharks have a steep climb to get out of the spot they have put themselves into.
The hope, for now, is that the holiday break will give the team a chance to take that look in the mirror and regroup.
"I think the four days off will be good for everybody," associate coach Roy Sommer said after Sunday's game. "Come back refreshed. I think there are a lot of positive things, but right now we're offensively challenged and we've got to play D and we just have breakdowns that are killing us right now."