On Saturday, the San Jose Sharks found themselves just one point out of a playoff spot. It was the closest that they had been to the post-season since Feb. 21, when they were a point behind fourth-place Los Angeles.
Naturally, the narrative centered around how the Sharks had turned their season around.
After last night’s lifeless 5-1 loss to the last-place Anaheim Ducks – San Jose is now five points behind fourth-place Arizona – it’s worth remembering how the Sharks found themselves in the hole in the first place.
The truth of the matter is, the San Jose Sharks haven’t done that much to get themselves back into playoff contention. On Mar. 5, they were 8-10-3, eight points behind fourth-place 13-7-1 Colorado. Vegas, St. Louis, and Minnesota were above the Avs.
Since then? Colorado is 13-1-3, Vegas is 10-6-1, Minnesota is 10-5-1, and St. Louis is 2-8-4. San Jose is 9-7-1. It’s fair to say, more than anything, it’s the Blues’ collapse that had led to the Sharks’ rise.
Last night’s lackadaisical effort was a reminder of that: There’s Kevin Labanc not tracking back hard on Adam Henrique’s game-opening goal, his stick infraction that led to Maxime Comtois’s 2-0 power play strike, the Brent Burns and Mario Ferraro miscommunication that led to Isac Lundestrom’s back-breaking gimme.
“A lot of guys knew how big the opportunity was here tonight,” Bob Boughner acknowledged. “It’s just a little disappointing that we didn’t have a better effort tonight. We did that to ourselves, that was self-inflicted.”
It was, frankly, too much free stuff from a San Jose Sharks group that isn’t good enough to give away that much.
“They played harder than us,” Tomas Hertl admitted. “We were waiting for easy plays — [thinking] because it’s Anaheim, everything would be easy for us. But they just came and played harder.”
That’s an attitude you can afford to have – if you’re up in the standings. “It was just one of those games” is fine — if you’ve banked the points. The San Jose Sharks haven’t, and this loss, like others on this list, will go down as one of those “woulda coulda shoulda” games of what’s shaping up to be another lottery year:
- 2/18/21: The Sharks are up 2-1 when Brayden Schenn ties the game with 40 seconds left. David Perron wins it in OT, and San Jose walks away with one point.
- 2/27/21: Devan Dubnyk can’t make the key stops and St. Louis pulls out a back-and-forth 7-6 victory. From my Quick Thoughts that night: “The last time that San Jose lost a game where they scored six or more goals was Nov. 26, 2005, also 7-6 to Detroit. That was literally days before Joe Thornton was traded to the Sharks.”
- 3/5/21: Three minutes into the second period, San Jose found themselves down 3-0 to Vegas because of a Max Pacioretty point shot that somehow eluded Jones. Seeing enough, Boughner pulled Jones after five saves on eight shots. After the 5-4 OT loss, Boughner was asked for the second time in two weeks if he was replacing Dubnyk or Jones with San Jose Sharks prospect Alexei Melnichuk or Josef Korenar.
- 3/17/21: San Jose was up 3-1 going into the final frame, but then, they gave up four goals in 8:03, Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture got into fights, Labanc and Timo Meier made inexcusable gaffes, and the Sharks once again found themselves on the wrong end of another 5-4 tilt against the Golden Knights.
- 3/19/21: San Jose was going on the power play with a 1-0 lead in the third period – but then, a lethargic power play allowed a Tyler Bozak short-handed goal. It’s a good time to point out that the Sharks PP is just 23rd in the NHL. They’d lose 2-1 in a shootout.
- 3/26/21: San Jose no-shows in the desert, losing a two-game weekend series to Arizona by a combined 9-2.
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