We take a look at the Sharks in ten game
increments and provide grades over that span. This report covers games 31 thru
40, which were played from December 28th thru January 17th. In that span the
Sharks went 6-3-1, which included wins over a slew of mid-pack and basement
dwellers, including a pair of wins over the Philadelphia Flyers and a historic
win over the Los Angeles Kings.
This 10-game span also included losses
to front runners like the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers. The Sharks
lost a both games against Pittsburgh in that span.
Here's how the
Sharks did over that last 10 games: Offense Grade:
In this 10-game spam the offense scored 33 goals, averaging
3.30 goals per game, which ranked 13th in comparison to other teams in the
league. That was a +3 goal increase over the prior 10 game span and it took a 5
goal outburst from Timo Meier to get them there. In the latest 10 game span,
Meier, Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture carried the majority of the load (18 goals
between the three of them). Alexander Barabanov got off to a nice start, but a
trip to the COVID protocol list squashed a big push by the young forward. Of
the other regular forwards who are playing, Nick Bonino: 1 goal, Andrew
Cogliano: 0 goals, Jonathan Dahlen: 0 goals, Noah Gregor: 0 goals, Matt Nieto:
2 goals, Jeffrey Viel: 2 goals, Jasper Weatherby: 1 goal.
As was the case in the primary 10 game span, the
Sharks are getting their scoring from three players.
Their goals per
game actually rose .30 goals per game, but, the net output still is nothing to
write home about. Defense Grade:
The Sharks surrendered 36 goals (3.60 goals per game), an
increase of 9 goals over the same span, which ranked 24th in the league.
Granted the quality of opposition got a little tougher this 10 game span, but
still, that's a significant increase from the prior 10 games.
absence of Mario Ferraro and Jake Middleton was felt throughout the blueline.
Ferraro's shot blocking ability were gone for 7 of the 10 games. Middleton has
missed the last 6 games after suffering a concussion in Detroit.
the Sharks are supposed to be a defensive first team, they clearly did an about
face on that approach. Turnovers has haunted San Jose of late, seemingly
fueling most goals they surrender. That problem has not been limited to the
younger, more inexperienced players either. Plenty of turnovers have spawned
from careless puck handling by veterans and youngsters alike.
Just when James Reimer was establishing himself as the Sharks
number one goaltender, he suffered an injury in Detroit, which went on to
sideline him for 4 games. Reimer did make 5 starts in the last 10 Sharks games,
but the lower body injury clearly disrupted his mojo.
Hill seized the
opportunity and turned in much better numbers in his 5 starts. The younger
Shark went 3-1-1 in his 5 starts, amassing a 2.24 goals against average
(allowing 12 goals in total) and a .922 save percentage.
comparison did not have the same success, although the outcome of his
performance was an additional loss compared to the OT loss that Hill suffered.
Reimer allowed 21 goals (9 more than Hill), which resulted in a 5:06 goals
against average on a .863 save percentage.
Looking to the future, Zach
Sawchenko got a sniff the NHL while Reimer was out and he rewarded the Sharks
by stopping 20 of 21 shots in relief of Hill in Pittsburgh.
Power Play Grade: D+
The power play went
4-for-27 (14.8%), putting them 25th out of the 32 teams in the league. The
absence of special team scoring was overshadowed by the slew of short-handed
goals that cost them big time in Detroit. They gave up 3, including a pair to a
Red Wings team that hadn't scored a short-handed goal in 100 games.
not only is the power play not cashing in, but it's surrendering goals.
Penalty Kill Grade: C-
Don't let the
Sharks overall penalty kill rank fool you. The last 10 games was a disaster
from a special teams perspective. The Sharks had been ranked 1 or 2 for the
majority of the season. That is until this past 10 games came calling.
San Jose surrendered 6 goals on 25 short-handed chances, a 76.0% kill
efficiency. That ranked 21st in the league during that span. So a top 1-2
ranked penalty kill dropped out of the top 10 until they cleaned things up
against LA. Overall Grade: C
evaluated the last 10 game span, there were still lots of questions about what
the Sharks identity is. Those questions still remain, because of all the
injuries and COVID protocol barriers that have impeded San Jose from gaining
any ground in the Western Conference standings.
The problem is,
there's a key date on the NHL calendar looming. That being the NHL's trade
deadline, which is a mere two months away (March 21st). The Sharks have to make
a decision on what they will do with Tomas Hertl, who becomes am unrestricted
free agent this summer.
But if Hertl is essentially providing 25-30%
of the team's scoring and nobody outside of Meier and Couture is likely to fill
the void, is it prudent for the Sharks to deal Hertl? It would seem that a move
like would set the Sharks back considerably in their rebuild (although Doug
Wilson won't admit he's in a rebuild).
Veterans like Erik Karlsson
have been vocal in their opposition to a rebuild, so if San Jose shops Hertl,
it would likely sour their relationship with Karlsson. So the next 30-45 days
will define what happens with the Sharks at the deal deadline. This last 10
games told us little, which has to be frustrating for the Sharks brain trust.
It didn't provide any clear insight on which direction then need to take at the
end of March. Perhaps this next 10 games will clarify things.