If the San Jose Sharks’ New Year’s resolution is to play better team defense, they did that for the most part against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night.
If their New Year’s resolution is to win games, well, good luck with that. They lost their eighth-straight to the Avs 3-1.
After getting embarrassed by the Los Angeles Kings in the third period on Wednesday and the Edmonton Oilers in the first period on Thursday, the San Jose Sharks spent Saturday practice concentrating on team defense. They spent so much time on it, they were late for their afternoon charter flight to Denver.
And through the first two periods, the score was tied one apiece, off a Tomas Hertl goal, and a more urgent and structured defensive effort. Per SPORTLOGiQ, Colorado has a 6-4 Slot Shots edge at Even Strength through 40 minutes. They were tied 2-2 in High-Danger Chances.
Compare this to the third period at Crypto.com Arena on Wednesday, when Los Angeles made San Jose bend a knee with a 11-0 Slot Shots and 7-0 High-Danger assault.
“You have to find ways to stay in games. You’re not going to have it every night, but to compete and battle as hard as we did and just play good, solid structural defense?” Quinn mused. “Obviously, we gave up a couple chances off the rush where we got beat 1-on-1, it wasn’t like we were out of position, but for the most part, we did a good job of protecting the middle of the rink and making it hard on them.”
Now the challenge is to continue playing this way, even without key defenseman Mario Ferraro, who exited the game with an upper-body injury.
This will not lead to a lot of wins, but it will lead to some victories. Thinking defense-first might be the San Jose’s best chance to stay respectable.
Kappo Kahkonen and Ty Emberson spoke on the San Jose Sharks’ defensive effort tonight. Henry Thrun addressed the possible absence of Ferraro. Quinn was highly complimentary of Kahkonen, Emberson, and Thrun.
See the full Kahkonen interview here
Kahkonen, on San Jose Sharks’ defensive effort in the first 40 minutes:
We really defended hard, we battled as the game went on. They pushed right at the first period.
We had more poise with the puck.
See the full Thrun interview here
Thrun, on losing Mario Ferraro:
I’d say he is probably the heartbeat of the team, so it is really tough to make up for what he brings to the table both on and off the ice. We’ve got a lot of good defensemen on our roster, and for us, it’s going to be a next man up mentality.
See the full Emberson interview here
Emberson, on what the San Jose Sharks have been focusing on defensively:
I think we just shored some things up defensively with guys rolling up the wall and getting into their defensive zone positions earlier. I think we’ve shored that up over film in the past couple of days. I think that’s one thing that we did.
See the full Quinn interview here
Quinn, on San Jose’s third period effort:
Penalties hurt us in the third. I thought the momentum changed a lot in the third. Our defense was starting to get tired with five defensemen and the altitude always kicks in a little bit here.
With our D-corps as young as we are, in there against this team, I couldn’t be prouder of this team. Our goalie was outstanding. You know, it’s 1-1 with five minutes to go and they got a power play goal and an empty-netter.
You have to find ways to stay in games. You’re not going to have it every night, but to compete and battle as hard as we did and just play good, solid structural defense? Obviously, we gave up a couple chances off the rush where we got beat 1-on-1, it wasn’t like we were out of position, but for the most part, we did a good job of protecting the middle of the rink and making it hard on them.
Quinn, on what they worked on defensively yesterday:
Listen, yesterday was our third practice of the month. So, we just had to get back to some basics defensively, we ironed out some of our coverage up top, and we were just going over some real foundational pieces to our defensive zone coverage. And it showed tonight.
Quinn, on how much Kaapo Kahkonen’s game has grown in the last year:
It was outstanding. He’s been outstanding all year, and I couldn’t be happier for him. He’s elevated his game on and off the ice. He’s been outstanding.
Quinn, on Thrun and Emberson’s 20 minute-plus efforts tonight:
I mean, you’re talking about two guys who, before the season started, had about eight games of NHL experience. And to throw them out there against that team and play the minutes they did against the players they did, and to hold up the way they did really bodes well for us moving forward.
I thought Henry was outstanding. He was really good against Edmonton. He is just playing a really smart game, he is a great kid, and he’s part of our future.
We claimed Ty earlier in the year, he never played in an NHL game, and he started feeling his way early in his first few games. But when he got hurt [in early December], he might have been one of our top-two defensemen. To come in and play the way he did after being out as long as he did was impressive.
Quinn, on the penalties called against the Sharks in the third period:
I can see why they called them. The real kicker was the drop on the empty net. Like Johansen never gets his stick down, he’s moving, and that’s why Hertl got so pissed off at the end. That wasn’t a fair drop, but, it’s a hell of a team.
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