The San Jose Sharks are not in a good place right now, and I’m not talking about their record.
But let’s talk about 0-4-0, for only the third time in franchise history. If they lose on Tuesday against the New York Islanders, it will be the first time that the Sharks have lost their first five games in a season.
But last night’s 5-2 defeat to the Chicago Blackhawks was more troubling than the three losses to the Nashville Predators and Carolina Hurricanes.
Before last night, you could talk about the chaos of traveling to Europe, the Sharks deserving points in the Prague rubber match, how good the Cup-contending Hurricanes are – there are no such excuses with the rebuilding Blackhawks.
But that’s not what worries me either: It’s one early-season contest. There are 78 games left in the season.
What was disturbing last night was the glimpse that we got into where the San Jose Sharks are mentally.
“Guys are upset, frustrated. Everything that you can imagine when you’re going through tough times,” captain Logan Couture admitted. “In this game, a lot of adversity is thrown your way and it’s about how you react to it, and we haven’t done a good enough job so far.”
Erik Karlsson talked about the Sharks’ reaction surrendering three goals in 3:14, including two shorties, to squander a 2-0 second period lead: “It’s unfortunate that they came at the time when they did, but it’s all about how we react to that and how we respond to that. We have more character in this room than we’ve shown.”
“We panicked,” head coach David Quinn acknowledged. “We chased the puck, we just played mindless, and it ends up in the back of your net.”
The Sharks weren’t just making mistakes down 4-2 in the third period – see Jason Dickinson’s dagger goal – which is a little more understandable. They were making “mindless” mistakes up 2-0, up 2-1, tied 2-2, and down just 3-2 in the second period.
“It goes back to being mentally tough,” Quinn noted, “and rebound from a feel sorry moment.”
Right now, the Sharks aren’t rebounding, which you can add that to their laundry list of problems – not enough skill up front, arguably one of the worst defensive corps in the NHL, and now, shaky mental fortitude.
Honestly, I didn’t think that we’d be evaluating San Jose’s mental toughness just four games into the season, especially after new GM Mike Grier emphasized the additions of high-compete players like Luke Kunin, Nico Sturm, Steven Lorentz, and Matt Benning this past summer.
“It’s early,” Couture reminded us.
And it is.
But for the fourth straight year, we’re here once again: The San Jose Sharks, a team with little margin for error, are making mistakes where they can least afford.
In 1993-94, the Sharks started 0-4-0 and rallied back to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. In 2019-20, San Jose started 0-4-0 and got Peter DeBoer fired.
Which way will these Sharks go?
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