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Sharks Just Aren’t Good Enough



Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

The San Jose Sharks just aren’t good enough.

Oh sure, they’re better than they were last year: Even after their sixth straight loss last night, 4-1 to the Vegas Golden Knights, they’re 22-22-5. That’s an underwhelming 82-point pace, but still an improvement over last year’s 72-point pace.

But 82 points isn’t good enough: From 2005-19, the average “worst” playoff team in each season still netted 92 points.

“Our best players have to be our best players.”

That’s been a common refrain from San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson the last two playoff-less seasons.

They certainly weren’t last night: James Reimer gave up this long-distance knuckler from Keegan Kolesar (55) to start the game, albeit deflected by Marc-Edouard Vlasic (44).

“One just kind of knuckles on Reims,” San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture said. “He’s been incredible all year. That s**t happens.”

“That deflated us a little bit,” head coach Bob Boughner acknowledged.

Tomas Hertl (48) lost Chandler Stephenson (20) in front, then Jack Eichel (9) beat Timo Meier (28) to the net.

“We missed a man, missed an assignment on the four-on-four,” Boughner noted.

Brent Burns (88) got pickpocketed by Kolesar here.

“We can do a lot of things better,” a frustrated Burns offered. “We got to grind. We got to play tight. We got to be five guys close. It’s everybody helping each other and taking away time and space. When there’s a breakdown, somebody makes a big block, a big play.”

Burns got that help from Mario Ferraro (38) here. But that help was few and far between for the San Jose Sharks last night.

Ultimately, the Sharks aren’t good enough not because of their stars, but because their stars aren’t getting enough help.

“We had some guys, Timo and Tommy, play a little too much one-on-one instead of, being prepared to go to work and put pucks behind. You get fancy, trying to create, do things you probably wouldn’t do if it’s a 0-0 game,” Boughner noted, before pointing out, “But those guys have been our offensive catalysts all year. If they have an off game, I think that we have to be able to regroup from it. Someone else has got to fill that void, step up.”

The San Jose Sharks still haven’t won a game when Meier or Hertl haven’t notched a point.

Nick Bonino tried to step up, scoring the San Jose Sharks’ lone goal in the final frame to prevent a Logan Thompson shutout. But it was also his first goal since Dec. 28, which tells you a lot about the secondary scoring situation in San Jose.

And on one hand, it feels like that help is bubbling, that it’s almost there: Even the most-maligned Sharks forwards are getting chances, from Noah Gregor, who was second to Meier and Burns in 5v5 shot attempts last night, or Lane Pederson, who had a dangerous wrister from the slot in the second period.

But it’s felt “almost there” for an entire season, 49 games in. It’s probably not happening.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Bonino admitted. “It feels like it’s almost out of your grasp and you’re trying everything you can to get it back on track.”

“So easy to say I’m getting chances, it’s going to go in, it’s going to go in. Until you actually see the puck go in the net, you don’t feel relief,” Couture said. “I’m sure there’s a lot of guys in there that feel like there’s an extra 10-20 pounds on their shoulders right now.”

The San Jose Sharks have 12 games until the Trade Deadline and 33 left in what’s shaping up to be their third straight season out of the playoffs, a not good-enough franchise first. And it doesn’t look like they’re going to get much help from a front office that put together another not good-enough team.

Bonino knows: “We obviously got to get some points pretty soon here.”

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