SEATTLE — By and large, the San Jose Sharks have been playing pretty good hockey.
They’re 4-2-1 in their last seven games — that’s even including last night’s 3-2 loss to the Seattle Kraken — and they’ve outchanced the opposition on most nights.
There’s one problem though — or a one-line problem, I should say.
In all fairness to Logan Couture and Nick Bonino though, they missed a couple games in that stretch because of COVID. So let’s look at the last five games, when they’ve both suited up.
Per Natural Stat Trick, the San Jose Sharks have received six goals from Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier, or Rudolfs Balcers at 5-on-5 in the last five tilts — one from Jeffrey Viel and the fourth line, and none from any of the other forwards. Hertl, Meier, and Balcers had been playing together before Balcers’s entry into COVID protocol and Alexander Barabanov’s return tonight.
The scoring chance count hasn’t been remarkably different during this time either: The Hertl line has racked up 52 scoring chances, Couture 28 (thanks to Noah Gregor who has 16 by himself), Bonino 20, and everybody else 17.
This was much the same last night, 5-on-5 Hertl and power play Meier accounting for all of the Sharks’ scoring against the bottom-dwelling Kraken.
“We’ve lost a lot of easy points we should get,” Hertl said. “Be a little bit higher.”
The Sharks are hanging onto the last wild card spot in the West right now, but just imagine if they hadn’t lost to Seattle twice, Montreal once?
The alternate captain would never sewer his teammates, but it’s clear that he and Timo Meier need help if the San Jose Sharks are going to go from scrappy surprise to serious playoff team.
Calle Jarnkrok’s game-winner told the story.
“Starts on the entry,” Bob Boughner said. “That should have been squeezed, that shouldn’t have even got into our zone. There was no need to back off there.”
Boughner is referring to a passive Erik Karlsson (65) giving Jarnkrok (19) an easy carry into the zone (00:13).
For me, however, it started even before Karlsson’s misplay.
There’s a dump-in and Andrew Cogliano (11) and Nick Bonino (13) work hard to win the puck back (00:00).
Bonino has it in the corner with a little time and space, and Cogliano rolls hard to the net (00:09). They connect, it’s a scoring chance. They don’t?
Bonino’s pass is ahead of Cogliano’s blade, turnover, goal.
That’s poor puck management from the veteran Bonino.
The cliche is that good defense leads to good offense. Well, conversely, bad offense can lead to bad defense.
From Bonino in the corner, to Karlsson in the neutral zone, to Jaycob Megna and Matt Nieto both going for Morgan Geekie (67) behind the net, there were three zones of blame to go around here.
“We collapse, and there’s a missed assignment in front. It’s too easy,” Boughner said.
Speaking of missing, here are some of the San Jose Sharks in prolonged scoring slumps:
- Jonathan Dahlen has no goals and two assists in his last 13 games — he has one goal in his last 21 appearances
- Noah Gregor has one goal in 25 games
- Jasper Weatherby has a goal and two assists in his last 28 games
- Nick Bonino has one goal and two assists in his last 14 games
“It would be nice to get some offense going from other lines,” Boughner said, “and take some pressure off the top guys.”
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