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Sturm Speaks From the Heart After Sharks’ Record-Setting Loss

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Credit: AP Photo/Adam Hunger

ELMONT, N.Y. – There was perhaps one bright spot in the San Jose Sharks’ 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders.

“Listen, that line was our best line. You saw it, right?” head coach David Quinn said of his fourth line of Jonah Gadjovich-Nico Sturm-Evgeny Svechnikov.

The Sharks are 0-5-0: This is the first time in franchise history that they’ve lost the first five games of a season, so it’s also the worst start in franchise history.

But Sturm and Svechnikov accounted for both of the Sharks’ goals tonight, and the depth forwards are tied for the team lead in goals with two apiece.

“Just keep it simple,” Sturm said of his line’s success. “We’re just trying to play to our strength. I think all three of us can skate really well. Gadj and I are two bigger bodies. We try to get the puck in and play to our advantages. We’re not gonna go out there and dangle anybody, we’re not going to have a ton of success like that.”

“One thing about this game, it rewards honesty,” Quinn pointed out. “We’re honest at times, but we’re not honest enough. And that’s something we got to learn, and we got to get out of this rut by playing a little bit more honest.”

What does Quinn mean by playing honest?

Two things stand out here: First, Sturm using his feet and every inch of his 6-foot-3 frame to bust through Anthony Beauvillier (18) and Adam Pelech (3) along the right wall. That’s determination.

Second, Sturm is smart to hang out where he does around the net. Ryan Pulock (6) is occupied with Svechnikov (10), so Sturm is open when Jaycob Megna (24) delivers the point shot.

Kyle Palmieri (21) looks like he’s about to exit, but Sturm is dogged on the forecheck, his pressure perhaps forcing Palmieri to give it up sooner than preferred. Matt Benning (5) pounces on the turnover, and Svechnikov just crashes the net.

The fourth line’s goals are examples of the north-south hockey that the Sharks might need to lean on to break out of their season-opening death spiral. It’s simple, crash the net stuff that isn’t exciting, but it’s safe both offensively, and more importantly, defensively.

Sturm’s line played an honest game, and the centerman also spoke honestly after the game. The Stanley Cup winner was angry, in a good way, and it’s worth reading (or watching) his entire interview here.

A local reporter told me that was the most brutally honest post-game interview that he’s recorded in four years.

Sturm, on what his line was doing well:

Just keep it simple. And our line, I think we all know, we’re not the most skilled guys out there. We’re just trying to play to our strength. I think all three of us can skate really well. Gadj and I are two bigger bodies. We try to get the puck in and play to our advantages. We’re not gonna go out there and dangle anybody, we’re not going to have a ton of success like that.

Sturm, on what this losing streak feels like after winning a Stanley Cup last year:

It sucks.

Gotta look back, I haven’t been on a losing team, I think, since my first year of juniors. It’s not really something I’m used to. I don’t like it.

We just talked about it. We don’t have a lot of time. Holes getting deeper and deeper. And at some point soon, it’s gonna be too late.

Sturm, on if the new Sharks feel comfortable speaking up in the room:

Yeah. The guys aren’t the problem at all. I can tell you that. This group is very, very close. Great guys. Everybody’s getting along with everybody else really well, but we haven’t been able to translate that onto the ice. We got to figure it out fast.

Sturm, on why a tight-knit locker room hasn’t translated to on-the-ice success:

The biggest thing is that we haven’t played a 60-minute hockey game. I think today and the Chicago game, the first 20 minutes were great. And then in the second period, we drop off.

Obviously, there’s a pushback. You got to expect a pushback.

You got to respect them as an opponent and be ready that they’re going to talk about it in the intermission, that they’re gonna come out, they’re gonna stare you in the face.

They’re not gonna give it to us. We can’t expect it that they’re gonna give it to us. And that’s how we play right now.

Sturm, on if a goal like his should inspire the rest of the San Jose Sharks:

Get inspired? We all know how to play the game. Obviously, there’s not a lot of confidence right now. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of guys in here that would like to score a little more than they are right now.

I think the best way [when you’re in a situation] like that is to get greasy. To get dirty. We have to play more aggressive.

Let’s face it, we’re not gonna blow out teams. We’re not going to score five, six goals every game. We got to figure out how we start winning games when we score two or three goals, and that’s what we got to focus on, play to our strengths. If we’re trying to be somebody that we’re not, we’re not going to have any success.

Sturm, on if there was a message from GM Mike Grier post-game:

This is the National Hockey League. You don’t need a coach or a GM to tell us. Everybody should know where we’re at right now. It’s not juniors or college where you need somebody to motivate you.

Every year, you got to feel like you’re taking a step forward.

We want to turn the culture around here. And so far, we haven’t done anything.

You’re 0-5, I don’t think you need Quinny or Mike to come in here and motivate any guys. Think at the end of the day, play like this, you play for a job. So should be motivation enough.

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