The San Jose Sharks have lost four consecutive games now, and typically this wouldn’t be a cause for concern. The NHL season is a long one, and ups and downs are a natural part of the process. Why this is worrisome is because it seems to point to a new trend for the Sharks.
Fans will recall that San Jose came out of the gates on fire during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign. They were scoring more goals than just about anyone and appeared to be the class of the NHL through the first month of competition. San Jose cooled of considerably after that, and never really regained the magic that they possessed in the early goings.
Last year the surge could be boiled down to a few players. Patrick Marleau in particular was playing out of his mind while the depth players were just along for the ride. That’s why the fantastic opening to the 2013-14 season seemed different. Everyone was contributing.
Scott Hannan has two goals on the season for cryin’ out loud.
The calendar moved forward though, and now that the first month of competition is out of the way, the Sharks seem to have forgotten that the NHL season is a marathon and not a sprint.
Losing four games in a row isn’t a big deal in the scheme of things. Unless you’re losing because you’re being outworked. That’s a major issue through one game. Four in a row though? That’s an awfully negative trend for a team that is still 10-2-4 on the season.
Is there any reason to panic? Maybe. Maybe not. Those who have watched every minute of the last four games knows that this isn’t the same Sharks team that was tearing through all comers for the first few weeks though. Aside from a blistering stretch against the Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose suddenly looks like a team trying to get by on talent alone.
Last night the team struggled to even take the red line against Vancouver during power plays. Instead of adjusting on the fly and going to a simple dump and chase, they continued to try to skate (talent) through the trap that the Canucks were working, and their chances went by without even a spark.
It’s situations like that that should have fans raising their eyebrows a bit. The losses aren’t the problem. It’s the cause of the losses that should be concerning. Loses to the Los Angeles Kings, Coyotes and Canucks in this recent stretch are devastating. All three of those teams are divisional opponents, so each game really is a battle over four points.
While they still managed to grab a few loser points, that just isn’t good enough in this division. One week off and suddenly you’re not a playoff team any more. That’s the reality in the Pacific.
The Sharks need to get their effort level to match their talent level if they want to regain their early-season form. This slump has noting to do with Brent Burns missing time or Dan Boyle being rusty or anything else. It has to do with each and every Sharks player upping their desire to win games.