The San Jose Sharks are at another crossroads in their season.
They’re just 11-11-3, but a three-game winning streak has fueled hope that they’re turning the corner. But the upcoming week’s slate of games will put them to the test: The West’s best in the Vegas Golden Knights, then a back-to-back against one of the teams that San Jose hopes to catch in St. Louis.
The Sharks failed their last big exam – going 2-4-1 in their first extended homestand of the year. Time, obviously, is running out on them.
Will they make a stand this week or will it be another last stand in what may be a season of last stands?
Anyway, Logan Couture and Rudolfs Balcers comment on their injuries. The San Jose Sharks grapple with the different rules that the County of Santa Clara has put them under. And SPORTLOGiQ illustrates the gap between Vegas and San Jose.
San Jose Sharks (11-11-3)
— Locked on Win Streak (@LockedOnSharks) March 15, 2021
Logan Couture commented on missing about 10 minutes of the second period in the last game: “Got me in the corner there and my back just locked up on me. So I had to go back and Razor worked on me for a bit and loosened it up. I’m good to go.”
Rudolfs Balcers talked about the injury that sidelined him for the Anaheim series: “Just kind of started up a little bit that one morning, just a little bad back.”
Vegas Golden Knights (18-6-1)
Where to Watch
Puck drop is 7:00 PM PT at T-Mobile Arena. Watch it on NBC Sports Bay Area, AT&T Sportsnet, or NHL.tv.
Marcus Sorensen was back on the ice with the San Jose Sharks today.
On Mar. 5, Sorensen tested positive for COVID-19, but it turned out to be a false positive. County of Santa Clara requirements, however, forced Sorensen to isolate for 10 days.
There’s no question that the Sharks are worried that they could have another player sidelined for 10 days because of a false positive.
“I think about that almost every day,” Bob Boughner said. “It could happen at any time.”
“It’s scary,” Sorensen admitted.
“I think we’re the only team that could possibly happen to,” Logan Couture said. “It’s tough.”
Case in point: Marc-Andre Fleury. The Golden Knights netminder tested positive on Mar. 11. It was a false positive and Fleury was back in action the next day.
“There’s two sets of rules,” Boughner said. “Fair or unfair, we’re under a certain set of rules.”
Shifting gears, Boughner also talked about the San Jose Sharks’ improved team culture, starting with his captain:
“The biggest thing for me is, Logan and I talked a lot this summer, and we put a plan together on improving the culture and the chemistry in our room. And I think he really has.
“There hasn’t been any [significant] issues or problems with that. And when there has been, we’ve addressed it right away, we fixed it.
“You could see the guys are playing as one, they’re playing as a team, they’re sticking up for each other. You could just see body language. After Handemark scored, guys are just happy for each other.
“You could tell away from the rink, you could tell when you’re in the hotel, when the guys are hanging out in players lounges and stuff like that. I think it’s a good feeling right now.
“It’s a work in progress, but Cooch has been that guy to lead in every one of those categories.”
SPORTLOGiQ Stat of the Night
San Jose Hockey Now gets a daily report from SPORTLOGiQ, featuring 76 head-to-head team micro-stats for whoever the San Jose Sharks’ next opponent is. These Per 60 numbers cover the whole gamut: Even strength, power play, penalty kill, goaltending, you name it.
What’s not surprising? Just how good the Vegas Golden Knights are, especially in terms of creating scoring chances and killing penalties.
They’re top-five in the NHL in 18 categories. The Sharks, on the other hand, are top-five in just three.
Meanwhile, San Jose is bottom-five in the league in 17 categories. Vegas, nine.
Here are some key categories where the Golden Knights shine:
Shooting – ES% of Shots on Net That Are Screened
Creating Scoring Chances – ES Shot Attempts From Slot For, ES Passes to the Slot For, ES Shot Attempts From Slot Off the Cycle, ES Shot Attempts From Slot Off the Rush
Limiting Scoring Chances – ES Pass to Slot Against, ES% DZ Face-offs Lost Resulting in Shot Against
Creating OZ Possession Time – ES% OZ Shot Attempts Recovered
Goaltending – ES% Shots on Net Against That Are Screened
Power Play – PP OZ Faceoffs Win %
Penalty Kill – SH Inner Slot Shots on Net Against, SH% of Opposition Shot Attempts Blocked, SH DZ Entry Denial Success %, SH% DZ Zone Time, SH Dump-Out Success %, SH% DZ Faceoffs Won Resulting in Clean DZ Exit
Here’s where the Sharks are top-five right now:
Creating Scoring Chances — ES% Faceoffs Won Resulting in Shot Attempt from Slot
Limiting Scoring Chances –ES% DZ Faceoffs Lost Resulting in Shot from Slot Attempt Against
Power Play – PP Screened Shots on Net
Suffice to say, the San Jose Sharks have their work cut out for them tonight and Wednesday.
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