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Sharks should worry about defense, not Nabokov

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Last night, Joe Yerdon wrote about Evgeni Nabokov’s struggles of late, that has corresponded with the Sharks’ frustrating play since the Olympic break. His March numbers were certainly pedestrian and not up to the standard we’re used to seeing him play at, but I contend that Evgeni Nabokov is the least of the San Jose Sharks’ worries.

I’d be more concerned about the defense than anything else.

The San Jose Sharks recently overcame a six-game losing streak with four straight wins, and looked as though they had corrected the woes that had plagued them. They were once again hungry for the puck, took advantage of their opportunities and Evgeni Nabokov played well overall.

Last night against the Dallas Stars, their issues reappeared and now the team is faced with the same the same questioned that plagued them just nine days ago.

The defense was discombobulated, and were turned around time and again by the Dallas Stars forwards. More alarmingly, they were consistently beaten to the puck and to the net and allowed too many plays to get behind them. Dan Boyle acknowledges that things just weren’t clicking very well:

“We were giving up tons of two-on-ones, three-on-twos,” defenseman Dan Boyle said. “Defensively, we were not on the same page -- who’s got who, what’s going on, not knowing what we were doing. At game 77, you’ve got to know what’s going on.”

And Boyle is right. Forget about the lack of effort or hunger for the Sharks; this is a team whose defense and goaltending is supposed its strength and just when as the playoffs approach it’s starting to fall apart.

So Sharks fans can certainly be concerned about Evgeni Nabokov -- there’s no doubt he’s not playing at the same level he was just a few months ago. But to my eye, none of the five goals allowed last night could be faulted to the goaltender and it’s the defense that is most concerning at a time when teams are hoping to be playing their best.

The Sharks aren’t just any team, either, that can say they’ll turn it on for the playoffs and everyone will be fine with it. The Sharks have taken the “play great in the regular season and fold in the first round” meme and perfected it.

They’ve yet to show anything late in the season to prove anything different.