A Tale of Two Teams
With the way the San Jose Sharks season has gone, the last two games are a perfect snap shot. On Monday the Sharks looked pitiful, losing at home to a bad New Jersey Devils team, 5-2. That was the Mr. Hyde version of the Sharks. Not surprisingly Dr. Jekyll showed up just two days later. On Wednesday the Sharks beat the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings, 4-2. While San Jose was out-shot overall, they held a 19-12 shot advantage and a 2-1 goal advantage through 40 minutes. San Jose would go up 3-1 with 11 minutes remaining and the Kings wouldn’t score their second goal until there was less than a minute left. Therefore, the Kings pressing for goals during the third period is the primary reason the shot total swung in the Kings favor. Overall San Jose played a solid 60 minutes after playing at most 20 solid minutes against the Devils. So what are we supposed to make of the Sharks?
The answer really isn’t that complicated. San Jose is still a really good team that on any given night can beat anyone in the league. They tend to show up much more frequently against their two main Pacific division rivals in Anaheim and LA, but struggle with Vancouver (who they shouldn’t have trouble getting testy with) and Calgary, as well as seemingly every single Eastern Conference bottom feeder. In one sense, the Sharks won’t have to worry about playing bad teams from the East in the playoffs but losing to Calgary and Vancouver is concerning. The first couple of losses versus those teams saw the Sharks carry the play but not nearly as much the following games. In the game prior to the Devils loss, the Sharks were out-shot by Calgary 11-4 in the first period. Getting heavily out-shot by the Flames at home in the opening twenty minutes? That is arguably more troublesome than laying an egg against New Jersey. Both are very concerning if you are a Sharks fan but the Sharks should be able to get up for games against direct playoff competition within their division. The Sharks and Flames each had one power-play opportunity in that first period, the Sharks should be better than that at home.
With the recent injuries to Justin Braun and Tommy Wingels, it seems to be the wiser choice for the Sharks to be sellers come to the trade deadline. However, that isn’t to say they would be incapable of beating say the Ducks or Kings in a playoff series. They very well could do that, but with the way things have gone, does anyone get the feeling that this is the year the Sharks break through? It just seems incredibly unlikely at this point. Even if somehow the Sharks were able to get through the Pacific to a Western Conference final, well, that is where their season would end. The St. Louis Blues have smoked the Sharks the past two games by identical 7-2 scores, and the Chicago Blackhawks are simply the best team in hockey. San Jose simply does not stand a chance against Chicago and so far this year they’ve struggled mightily with St. Louis. It is simply too difficult of a road for San Jose. They do not have enough depth up front nor on the blue-line and Antti Niemi has not been reliable come the postseason.