| No lead is safe
Sharks can't stay in the driver's seat
|11/18/18 - By Paul Krill -
Saturday's delightful 4-0 win against the Saint
Louis Blues was a bit uncharacteristic of this season:
* The Sharks
captured the lead and held it.
* The Sharks had their first shutout of the
According to pre-game reporting on TV, the Sharks have had a
lead in seven of the 10 games they've lost this season. And that doesn't count
a game like last Tuesday's, where they had to come from behind to win after
blowing a 3-0 lead against a Nashville team that had played an overtime game
the night before.
The Sharks seem to be shirking their defensive
responsibilities and, of course, goaltender Martin Jones is not currently on
track to make anyone's Vezina Trophy candidates list.
Outside of last
Sunday's game against Calgary, where he won the game for us, his play has been
cringe-worthy at times. Breakaways on him can seem so automatic he might as
well just step out of the way and let the puck in. And he has let in a bunch of
other goals of the "He should have had that." variety.
I'm still a
Martin Jones fan, but the slip in his quality of play more than cancels out the
offensive firepower that Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson bring to the blue line
We need the Sharks to tighten up defensively; reducing
the amount of scoring opportunities against Jones (and Aaron Dell) will go a
long way toward improving goaltender statistics.
A shutdown goaltender
can carry a team and we don't currently have that. Following the first game
this year, I wrote that perhaps GM Doug Wilson had taken the goaltending for
granted, after Jones' poor play had lost that game for us. Six weeks' later, I
still have to ask that same question.
Aside from what's happening on the ice, what we're seeing in the
stands is a bit disconcerting: throngs of empty seats, particularly for midweek
games. Saturday night's game did not sell out, and even Thursday's game against
Patrick Marleau and the Toronto Maple Leafs, an elite team from the Eastern
Conference, was not a sellout, either. It looks like the Sharks have settled
into a new reality: There will no longer be automatic sellouts and long sellout
Perhaps the runaway success of the Golden State Warriors,
who've won three NBA championships in the past four seasons, has not helped.
And the Sharks no longer have the South Bay all to themselves, with the "San
Francisco" 49ers playing a few minutes' away in Santa Clara and the Earthquakes
playing in a brand new soccer stadium also a few minutes away.
Sharks have stepped up their marketing to account for this new reality. But I
long for the days when the South Bay was so thrilled to have a major
professional sports franchise, that the Shark Tank was virtually filled all the
time. Those days are over.
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