There’s a double standard in goal for the San Jose Sharks.
Down 3-2 early in the third period, this Jonathan Marchessault strike finished off the Sharks’ upset hopes.
— Danny Webster (@DannyWebster21) April 22, 2021
Up to this point, rookie Josef Korenar had been fantastic, his first road start in the NHL highlighted by an 18-save opening frame, a San Jose season-high.
— Dan Rusanowsky (@DanRusanowsky) April 22, 2021
But I’ll say it: Martin Jones would’ve been raked over the coals for allowing that goal, at that time, in a must-win game. No matter how well he had played earlier in the contest.
Now there are extenuating circumstances, most already noted: Korenar is a rookie, making his first NHL road start, and had been the Sharks’ best player up to that goal. Per SPORTLOGiQ, Vegas dominated with a 25-10 Slot Shots on Net and a 12-3 Scoring Chances Off the Rush advantage in All Situations – also signaling that unreliable forwards and a porous defense were the greater culprits in the 5-2 loss. Also, and understandably so, the San Jose Sharks fanbase is a lot more tired of Jones. These are all valid reasons to let Korenar off the hook.
But the point is: The San Jose Sharks need a more consistent brand of goaltending next season. That goes for Jones, Korenar, Alexei Melnichuk, or whoever else they might bring in. It’s not just about the saves that you shouldn’t make – it’s also about the saves you should make.
New Defensive Pairings?
A few games ago, Bob Boughner broke up the Evander Kane-Logan Couture-Kevin Labanc line, which had carried the San Jose Sharks in the first half of the season. That’s what happens when you’re in the midst of a seven-game losing streak.
The changes now aren’t confined to up front: Last night, defensemen Mario Ferraro and Nikolai Knyzhov were flip-flopped in the second period. Ferraro has played with Brent Burns for most of the season, while Knyzhov has been stapled to Erik Karlsson since Karlsson’s return from a groin injury on Feb. 27.
“It happened after some penalties, just naturally,” Bob Boughner shared. “We started playing better after that switch, so me and Rocky [Thompson] made the decision, let’s experiment, let’s test it out a little bit and see how the partners react. I thought it was okay.”
Speaking of Ferraro, is the sophomore defenseman wearing down from his perhaps unexpected heavy usage this season?
This isn’t taking anything away from the high-energy, high-effort 22-year-old defenseman’s remarkable season. Averaging 22:26 a game, Ferraro is part of a select group of 23-or-under blueliners averaging more than 22 minutes a night: In order of usage, it’s Miro Heiskanen, Adam Fox, Zach Werenski, Charlie McAvoy, Cale Makar, Filip Hronek, Samuel Girard, Jakob Chychrun, Quinn Hughes, Ferraro, and Mikhail Sergachev.
But regardless, does the swap in partners, and for example, the holding penalty on Shea Theodore last night, suggest an overall drop in play?
Boughner didn’t seem to think so: “I think everybody mentally, especially the young guys at this point in the season and the way the schedule has gone, it’s a lot of hockey. But I’m never worried about Mario. Mario is a guy that keeps himself in great shape [and] he’s always full of energy.
“I don’t think it’s a tired thing for him. Playing as much as he does, in the crucial situations that he does, those kind of minutes against the best players, you’re going to have nights where it doesn’t go perfect for you. But he’s the kind of guy that will get back on the horse here and could be your best defenseman next game.”
Let’s see how Boughner rolls out his pairs this Saturday.
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