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Quick Thoughts: Why Haven’t Kids Been Played More?



Credit: NBCS Bay Area

The San Jose Sharks are going streaking!

The Sharks lost their eighth straight game last night, joining a select group of San Jose squads. It’s only the seventh time that the Sharks have lost eight or more in a row:

Losing StreakStartEnd

This stat is skewed because until 2003-04, NHL regular season games could end with a tie. But it’s still striking: This is only the second time that the San Jose Sharks, outside of the expansion George Kingston era, have dropped eight straight or more.

And this time, Joe Thornton isn’t walking through the door. San Jose acquired the Boston Bruins superstar on Nov. 30, 2005 and kicked off a six-game winning streak.

Coin Has Flipped on Jones

Martin Jones was sitting on top of the world three weeks ago.

He was selected the NHL’s Player of the Week for Mar. 29 through Apr. 4, going 4-0-0 with a .942 Save %. This capped off a stretch from Mar. 13 through Apr. 4, when Jones led the San Jose Sharks back into the playoff hunt with a 7-1-1 record and a .942 Save %.

Safe to say, the coin has flipped: Since Apr. 6, Jones is 1-5-1 with a .863 Save %.

Was last night the nadir of Jones’s third consecutive sub-standard campaign? This was the first shot of the game, courtesy of Ryan Suter:

Bob Boughner did not mince words: “We’re fighting for our lives and to be down 1-0 on the first shot of the game, which was a horrible goal, I think it took some wind out of our sails.”

Boughner didn’t blame everything on Jones, pointing out that after the Suter “strike,” San Jose had 59 minutes to respond. Jones was just one of 19 Sharks who failed to respond. But the focus will always be on a goaltender, your last line of defense, especially when you give up three goals on your first six shots.

The bench boss added: “It’s tough to take that at this time of year.

“You need saves at the right time in the game, we didn’t get them early, and now you’re chasing the game.”

“Young Mistakes”

Why aren’t the youngsters playing more? Joachim Blichfeld and Noah Gregor, for example, played just 7:50 and 10:21 respectively.

Naturally, when you see Blichfeld uncork his first NHL goal off a shot like this, it makes you wonder more:

Last night’s contest, however, was instructive about the double-edged sword that comes with playing raw talent. On the positive side, obviously, is Blichfeld’s strike, off his much-touted shot.

On the flip side, however, are goals like these:

“We caught the guy coming back,” Boughner said of this Marcus Foligno goal, “we just didn’t do a good enough job of picking up a stick.” That would be Blichfeld.

“Noah was back and he misread the play,” Boughner noted. Essentially, with the late man Jared Spurgeon (46) beating Logan Couture (39) up the ice, Gregor (73) or Brent Burns (88) – but usually, it would be Gregor’s job – need to rotate over to help Couture.

“We made some young mistakes, on the [Foligno] goal, there’s a couple things that went wrong there,” the head coach offered. “Even on the third goal, we had coverage coming back when Spurgeon scored, again it was another young mistake.”

Boughner made sure to clarify that he wasn’t putting all the weight on his kids: “It’s little things that they’re going to get. Listen, I’m not blaming those guys, by any means. We’re in a situation here where we win as a team, lose as a team, and everybody can be better.”

But these are the little things, the details that coaches always talk about, that often confound fans. But it does explain why a Ryan Donato, for example, skates 8:19 and is yo-yoed up and down the line-up, despite clear offensive chops.

These details, or the lack thereof, don’t always lead to a goal for or against – but it’s something that the coaches are always watching. Some San Jose youngsters, based on Time on Ice – Rudolfs Balcers, Dylan Gambrell, and Mario Ferraro, for example – are clearly doing the little things on a more consistent basis. And these details do matter.

As the San Jose Sharks fall out of the playoff race, I expect the calculation to change a bit: It’ll be less about guys who can do the little things and more about giving the youngsters some experience.

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