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San Jose Sharks

One Step Up, Two Steps Back for Sharks

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Credit: AP Photo/Noah K. Murray

NEWARK, N.J. – It’s one step up, two steps back for the San Jose Sharks.

Two nights after a surprise (and well-played) victory against the New York Rangers, the Sharks returned to their losing ways in a 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils.

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It’s variations of the same theme for the Sharks.

They need to play faster.

“We could have played a lot faster, we could have been a little bit more alert, and we certainly could have been more physical,” San Jose Sharks head coach David Quinn indicated. “Have an idea what you’re gonna do with the puck before you get it. We were just too slow.”

It’s not just about skating faster, it’s more about thinking faster. The puck moves faster than the feet, of course.

The Devils were on top of the Sharks for most of the afternoon, here’s just one example:

Nick Bonino (13) looks up to make a play, but Dawson Mercer (91) pickpockets him. To Bonino’s credit, he does win the puck back. But this would prove to be an ominous sign for later.

The Sharks need to manage the puck better, especially in the middle of the ice.

“When you turn it over like that, that’s where the chances come from and that was the core of our problem from a defensive standpoint,” Quinn noted. “When you turn the puck over the way we did, you’re not in structure defensively.”

Here’s but one example:

Tomas Hertl (48) knows where he wants go with it, but Michael McLeod’s (20) pressure forces an errant pass.

A turnover this close to the net, there’s no recovering, but Kaapo Kahkonen, as he did so often this afternoon, bailed out the San Jose Sharks.

Here’s another:

In fairness to Timo Meier (28), it looks like Erik Haula (56) slows down his pass. But there’s an argument that Meier should’ve simply got the puck behind the New Jersey defense and gone to work on the forecheck, instead of trying to go through Haula up the middle.

While Meier’s turnover wasn’t as egregious as Hertl, insofar as the Sharks were able to recover defensively, the timing of both, in the last five minutes of the opening frame, was noteworthy.

“I did like our first 15 minutes,” Quinn pointed out. But both turnovers blunted San Jose’s early momentum. Yeah, it’s just two bad plays, and good teams should be able to overcome the unavoidable unfortunate play or two.

But Kevin Labanc observed, rightly: “You do the little things right, they’ll add up to a lot of offensive chances going the other way.”

Basically, make enough little plays, you’ll earn yourself some big plays.

The Sharks, instead, have earned themselves a 1-6-0 record.

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