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Sharks Locker Room: The Mental Toll of Your Best Not Being Good Enough



Credit: Dean Tait/Hockey Shots

I guess all you can do is stay positive?

Despite outshooting the vaunted Tampa Bay Lightning 16-10 through the first two periods, the San Jose Sharks were tied at one apiece, goal by William Eklund. Naturally, the Lightning’s lone goal was a complete fluke.

For once, the last-place Sharks were playing winning hockey, but as usual, they weren’t getting rewarded.

Credit where credit is due though – after no-showing the last 10 minutes of an 8-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, the Sharks responded. 13 games to go in a season from hell, and they haven’t quit.

“I was really proud of our group, after we give up that fluky goal, that we kept playing and really didn’t get distracted or whatnot,” head coach David Quinn said.

But as has happened so often this season, when the other team wants to turn it on against San Jose, they pretty much just have to flick a switch.

A quick Brayden Point power play goal to start the third period, an Anthony Duclair dagger, and the Sharks were done, ultimately falling 4-1.

Look, there’s a reason why Tomas Hertl wanted to leave. It’s a mental toll, when you’re not rewarded for playing the best that you can, individually or as a team.

You could see the mental toll on Hertl, once Mr. Fun Must Be Always. You can see it on the maybe-not-so irrepressible Mario Ferraro, for example.

“I focus on the positives. That’s just my mentality. It’s my personality as well. I don’t dwell on it. It’s just not worth it,” Jacob MacDonald said.

What else can the San Jose Sharks and their .283 Points %, threatening the 2019-20 Detroit Red Wings’ .275 as the worst team of the cap era, do?

David Quinn

Quinn, on how frustrating it is for the San Jose Sharks to play so well through 40, but not have the lead because of a fluky first Tampa goal:

Just keep going. I was really proud of our group, after we give up that fluky goal, that we kept playing and really didn’t get distracted or whatnot. We kept going. Just unfortunate, we just got demoralized too easily after we gave them that second goal.

Quinn, on Eklund’s response to his demotion:

I thought he had a really good night tonight. He and I talked at length this morning. Talking about why we’re moving him.

Quinn, on the Sharks’ first two periods:

I thought tonight, we really trusted each other. Really played with conviction. Approached the game the way we needed to. I don’t think we chased offense for the first two periods. I thought we got pucks behind them, made good decisions. There weren’t any odd-man rushes and turnovers. I think we got a little bit away from that once we got down 2-1.

Quinn, on Tampa’s third goal from Tampa:

We didn’t read it well.

We just lost the weakside. We didn’t protect the middle. It was a hard play. It really started in [our] O-zone, we get on the wrong side of the battle on the wall. It’s a 4-on-3.

William Eklund

Eklund, on being demoted to the fourth line:

I haven’t played my best hockey. I think today was a huge step in the right direction. You’re not always going to have ups in the season. You’re going to have some downs, and I’m learning here. I’m going to keep learning and be a better person.

Eklund, on how he’s feeling in his first 82-game season of his career:

I feel good. It’s a lot of games. We’ve played a lot of good teams, and I think we all are grinding right now.

Eklund, on if playing with a Ryan Carpenter helps him simplify his game, as opposed to the responsibility of being a second-line center:

I play my best hockey when I don’t think. I feel like it’s a fresh start for me today, back playing better hockey. I feel like I did today. As I said, [Carpenter and Jacob MacDonald] helped me a lot today.

Jacob MacDonald

MacDonald, on focusing on the positives from tonight instead of the continuation of the losing streak:

I focus on the positives. That’s just my mentality. It’s my personality as well. I don’t dwell on it. It’s just not worth it.

MacDonald, on the difference tonight as opposed to the 8-2 loss in Nashville:

On both a personal and team level, I thought we stuck with the whole game plan. I think that there’s some times in the Nashville game where we got away from our structure and what we want to do, and I thought overall, as a whole tonight, we stuck with it a lot better.

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