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Ten Reasons
Sharks missed playoffs for a reason
4/21/15 - By Zach Bodenstein -

For the first time in ten seasons, the San Jose Sharks will not be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 2014-2015 season. With a very controversial offseason, Doug Wilson has yet again set the Sharks up for failure, this time in various different forms. There are so many things to analyze, such as not filling the hole at D so that Brent Burns, the most dominant power forward in hockey, needs to play out of position. Not to mention his lack of knowledge on call-ups and send-downs that cost the team not being able to maximize their skill. However, I am not focusing on Wilson's mishaps today, as I would like to analyze 10 games that are responsible for the Sharks' lost season.

10) February 26th 2015: Detroit Red Wings 3 @ San Jose Sharks 2

The Sharks stormed out of the gates in this one, outshooting Detroit 14-4 in the first period, leading 1-0. The Sharks could not match that intensity in the final two frames, as the Red Wings dominated the shot clock by a combined 31-8 in the second and third periods. Although the Sharks played a terrible final 40 minutes, they were leading 2-1 until Datsyuk squeaked an innocent backhand goal past Niemi, who had one of his sharpest outings of the season, to tie the game at 2 with 6:28 left in the third period. The Sharks were still on their heels following the Datsyuk marker, trying to hang on for at least one point in the jam-packed standings.

However, with 1:15 left in regulation, McLellan threw out the struggling and unskilled defensive pair of Scott Hannan and Matt Irwin (before he started playing great hockey for the Sharks) who both got caught in front of the net, applying no pressure on Detroit's forecheck and Luke Glendening got free to backhand one past Niemi with 1:15 to play in regulation. The Sharks had 8 shots the final fourty minutes and were sloppy defensively, throwing away a valuable two points by letting in two terrible goals late in a game that they did not deserve in the first place.

9) October 23rd 2014: Columbus Blue Jackets 5 @ San Jose Sharks 4

This one, to me, is the most frustrating one of them all, but it ranks #9 on my list because it was very early in the season against an Eastern Conference opponent. The Sharks had lost two straight games coming into the home game against a weak Blue Jackets team, but apparently were not hungry enough, giving up way too many goals to a one-line offensive team. After the teams went back and forth the first two periods, the Sharks jumped out to a 4-3 lead when Logan Couture got a gift from an awful turnover and took advantage with a wicked snap shot. But just three minutes later, nobody is able to tie up Nick Foligno in front who taps in a powerplay goal to tie the game at 4.

The Sharks caught a huge break by a weak goaltender interference call nullifying Ryan Johansen's go-ahead goal with 1:18 remaining in regulation. Then, with 30 seconds left in the game, Todd McLellan, who has the last change as the home team, throws out a fourth line of Andrew Desjardins, James Sheppard, and Adam Burish to square off against a Blue Jackets line of Scott Hartnell, Mark Letestu, and Nick Foligno, which features two of the Jackets' top line wingers. An innocent shot from the point is not blocked and nobody ties up Letestu in front, who tips it in with 21 seconds remaining in the third period, stealing two points from the Sharks late. To this day, I am still not sure what McLellan was thinking with that matchup so late in a tie game, but it clearly cost the Sharks.

8) February 2nd 2015: Edmonton Oilers 5 at San Jose Sharks 4 (Shootout)

This loss began the worst stretch of the season for the Sharks, where they did not win a single home game in the month of February. Giving up 40 shots to one of the league's worst teams is not so ideal. After the Sharks got down 3-1 heading into the third period, they took a 4-3 lead with three goals in 7:09. However, they got in their heels late in the game, as Justin Schultz scored an awful goal from the corner, harmlessly putting one on Niemi with 2:37 left in the third period to tie up the game.

Matt Tennyson, who scored in this game and was a phenomenal defenseman for the Sharks this season when he played, did not have a stick and was not given one by a forward, which leads to the dominating shift and the tying goal by the Oilers. Then in the shootout, the Sharks only scored once on thirteen attempts against a subpar backup goaltender in Viktor Fasth. Niemi did everything he could in the shootout, except Rob Klinkhammer of all people scoring in the thirteenth round to put Edmonton past San Jose 2-1 in the shootout, and 5-4 in the game. The Sharks had many glorious chances in the game and the shootout to get two points, but settled for one after blowing those opportunities, giving up too many goals to a bad team, and ultimately allowing Edmonton to take the extra point, which the Sharks needed badly at the time.

7) February 11th: Washington Capitals 5 @ San Jose Sharks 4 (Overtime)

With the EPIX cameras and all of America watching the game on NBC, the Sharks choked up a valuable point at home against a dangerous Capitals team. Missing Braun and Vlasic, the Sharks' two best defensive defenseman does not help with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom come into town. Trailing 1-0 after the first period, Brent Burns put the Sharks on his back, scoring two goals in the first 43 seconds of the second period to give San Jose a 2-1 lead.

However, the teams would find themselves tied at 3 in the third in a controversial way, with Jay Beagle coming down the wing in a one-on-one situation against Sharks rookie defenseman Mirco Mueller, who had the angle on Beagle heading towards the net. The linesman got in the way of Mueller, causing them both to fall and allowing Beagle to beat Niemi in alone with 8:43 remaining for his second of the contest. The crowd was not pleased. The Sharks allowed Washington to carry the momentum as John Carlson was left unguarded at the top of the right circle who wristed one up and past Niemi for the 4-3 lead late in the game, as the Carlson goal came just more than two minutes after Beagle tied it.

The game would find its way to overtime tied at 4, where Scott Hannan is clearly hooked down right infront of the official's eyes, leading to a 3-on-2 rush for the Capitals, forcing forward Joe Pavelski to play defense with Brent Burns, who is already unstable defensively. Burns could not tie up Joel Ward in front, whom easily scores on a rebound right in front of the net to secure the overtime win for Washington. The penalty should have been called, and the linesman should not have been in Mueller's way, on top of a brutal defensive effort from the Sharks, missing two key defenseman. This is a very bad game to look back at for many reasons, costing the Sharks a valuable point at the time.

6) March 29th 2015: San Jose Sharks 2 @ Pittsburgh Penguins 3 (Shootout)

At this point late in the season, the Sharks had to essentially run the table if they were to make the postseason, which would have given them 95 points, maybe enough to squeak in. They were doing a great job of it, playing desperate hockey and winning their last two games at the end of a long road trip heading into this game. Giving up two goals in under a minute in the first period, the fatigued Sharks were able to rally back, scoring two goals in the second period and outplaying the Penguins on the road for the rest of the game.

The Sharks were given a gift in overtime as Brent Burns drew blood on a viscous high stick from Patric Hornqvist, giving the Sharks a four minute 4-on-3 powerplay with 3:49 left in overtime. The Sharks were much too passive on this advantage, not having as many opportunities as a hungry team like themselves should have had. Eventually, they did not score on the powerplay and the shootout was a disaster. The Penguins went 2/2 and the Sharks went 0/2, leaving the Sharks with only one point. Even if the Sharks had run the table and finished with 95 points, it was still highly unlikely, so this loss was very deflating to their potential postseason hopes.

5) March 14th 2015: Chicago Blackhawks 6 @ San Jose Sharks 2

The game started off very well for San Jose, as the Sharks were heavily outshooting and outplaying Chicago, but the score remained tied at 2 through two periods. The Sharks came into this game only out of the playoffs by three points, so they knew that they had to play a tight third period against a good Chicago team. However, just 1:21 into the third period, Brandon Saad broke in alone after Mirco Mueller fell and is able to deke around Niemi for the 3-2 lead. A desperate Sharks team did not respond well to the go-ahead goal as Bryan Bickell made it a 4-2 advantage just 3 and a half minutes later, with all 5 Sharks on the ice puckwatching. Bickell was literally standing alone in the slot and wristed the puck past Antti Niemi.

The Blackhawks then added a powerplay goal and an empty-net goal, outscoring San Jose 4-0 in the third period. The Sharks then picked up right where they left off, losing to Winnipeg in the biggest game of the season three days later where they gave up three goals in the first 13 minutes of the first period in such a critical game even though they badly outplayed the Jets. The deficit was too large, falling 5-2 in another massive game, slimming their playoff hopes. It is just important to note that Winnipeg game, but since the Sharks were the better team by far in that game, bad defense cost them but not enough to make this list.

4) January 3rd 2015: St. Louis Blues 7 @ San Jose Sharks 2

After a wild first period where the Sharks were not sharp, the score was 2-2. But the Sharks showed no urgency in front of their home crowd for the first time in the new year, giving up 5 unanswered goals by the Blues with a beyond lackluster effort that sank the Sharks, only registering 20 shots on goal. Five days later, the Sharks travelled to St. Louis to face off against the exact same Blues team, who got destroyed by the identical 7-2 score that they did back in San Jose with another terrible effort, especially in the defensive and neutral zones. Hey, at least they were consistent, right?

3) April 4th 2015: San Jose Sharks 3 @ Arizona Coyotes 5

The Sharks had just dominated and defeated these same Coyotes the night before as the teams headed over to the desert to complete the home-and-home set. The Sharks' playoff chances were slim prior to this game, but they were playing as a motivated bunch and took 9 out of the last possible 10 points going up against arguably the worst team in the NHL. If the Sharks strung together four more wins including this one, all winnable, then there was a solid opportunity that they would have an 11th straight playoff berth, but it had to be taken one step at a time, starting with this contest against the Coyotes. The Sharks' penalty kill was more than a disaster, giving up 2 powerplay goals on four Arizona opportunities. Although the Sharks registered 45 shots, they gave up 36 against an abysmal Coyotes team. This loss sealed the deal on San Jose's season as they were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention prior to their next contest against Dallas.

2) BOTH Losses to Buffalo

October 25th 2014: Buffalo Sabres 2 @ San Jose Sharks 1

November 18th 2014: San Jose Sharks 1 @ Buffalo Sabres 4


I am going to count these two losses as one because it was the same garbage that the Sharks showed both times out against a historically bad team in the Sabres. Buffalo was one of the worst teams statistically and realistically that the NHL has ever seen in its history. The Sharks, of course, lost both games to them in regulation. These two games are an easy four points for almost any team in the NHL, including all of the teams that San Jose WAS fighting for a playoff spot with.

The Sharks doubled the Sabres' shots, 30-15, in the home game on October 25th, allowing two very weak goals that cannot happen, especially against this Buffalo team and especially on 15 shots. The Sharks were only able to beat Michal Neuvirth one time in this game with the horrible defensive core of Buffalo in front of him. Less than a month later, the Sharks visited the Sabres in Buffalo, as I made the trip over from Toronto to watch the game in the front row besides San Jose's bench. Their facial expressions were mixed, as some players showed lots of frustration and some acted like they were content with playing like trash. The Sharks were coming off of a game in Carolina where they were poorly outplayed by another bottom feeder, surrendering 45 shots, but their rookie goaltender Troy Grosenick stole them a 2-0 shutout win in his NHL debut.

He started this game in Buffalo and the team was not much better. The Sharks outshot Buffalo by the almost identical shot counter of 30-14, but the Sharks were only able to muster one goal again against this terrible Buffalo team, while giving up four on not many opportunities. These points cannot slip, although a few goals should have counted that were waived off for San Jose. These are as easy as they come, and the Sharks went 0/4 in points against Buffalo, holding them back for the rest of the season in hopes of making the playoffs.

1) March 7th 2015: Vancouver Canucks 3 @ San Jose Sharks 2

This game has many reasons to be number 1 on my list. To begin, the Sharks knew this was a must-win game at home against a team that they dominated a few nights prior. The Sharks were 4 points behind these Vancouver Canucks for second place in the Pacific Division entering this game. The Sharks got out to a 2-0 lead and a terrible momentum-killing goal by Radim Vrbata cut the lead in half with 39 seconds remaining in the first period. In the second period, Patrick Marleau was given a perfect pass at the side of the net and literally had the entire open cage by sifted it wide. Naturally, a terrible defensive play by Brent Burns allowed Bo Horvat to come in alone and chip it past Niemi.

The Sharks took a penalty early in the third period and Vancouver took the 3-2 lead with the powerplay goal. San Jose missed multiple opportunities in this must-win game with a tough road trip coming up. This game was a back-breaker as the Sharks fell behind in the race for both the division and the wid card, and continued to tumble with poor efforts throughout the month of March that ultimately set them back and gave them essentially no chance at the playoffs. I believe if Patrick Marleau puts the puck in the empty net for a 3-1 advantage in the second period at home in a must-win game, the game has a different outcome. But momentum was ruined after that and poor defense killed the Sharks, who earned no points in this game.




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