Consider this your knee-jerk reaction to the San Jose Sharks loss to the Winnipeg Jets.
Tonight was maddening for a few different reasons. To be completely honest, this contest was wildly entertaining. Sadly, a lot of that entertainment came at the expense of the Sharks. They seemed to be fighting it all night long and didn’t come out flying like they should have.
It was obvious that the Jets were taking this game much more seriously right from the get go, and San Jose struggled to match intensity with a squad that has yet to make the playoffs since moving to Winnipeg. That’s not a good sign. San Jose’s defenders also couldn’t come up with an answer for Andrew Ladd, who has been a force for the Jets lately.
Winnipeg didn’t make life easy on Antti Niemi at all and constantly had bodies in front of the net. San Jose’s D seemed smallish and ill equipped to win these demanding physical battles. Brad Stuart was watching from the press box after playing a few poor games, but the Sharks certainly could have used his size in front of Niemi tonight.
Overall it just seems like the Sharks are waiting for the game to come to them. They almost seem too poised and aware of their own talent level. While no panic is a positive, no urgency is a very big negative. That’s the line that the Sharks aren’t walking very well right now, and it’s costing them in the standings.
The team also needs to figure out how to get it done in the shootout. If they’re going to keep forcing games to overtime, the least that they can do is get Niemi some goal support in the breakaway competition. San Jose’s futility there is just inexcusable. There’s too much talent for everyone to be going 0-fer.
Hanging onto a lead would be nice as well. San Jose lead heading into the second period by a 2-0 margin despite getting badly outplayed and out-shot in the opening frame. Winnipeg cut into the lead in the second, but the Sharks managed to restore the two-goal lead seconds later.
It was all Jets through the rest of the second. Dustin Byfuglien and Grant Clitsome lit the lamp and tied the game 3-all heading into the third period.
More of the same in the third. Dan Boyle puts the Sharks ahead with his second of the night, but Ladd responds in the closing minutes to send the game to OT. This storyline is becoming painfully familiar for the Sharks, and they need to get a handle on their intensity level in the closing five minutes of play in a bad way.
San Jose’s to-do list then, moving forward:
- Pray to the hockey gods for Brent Burns to return soon
- Work on the shootout
- Figure out how to defend a lead late
- Figure out how to pick up the intensity early
- Work on the shootout
Yes. Work on the shootout is in there twice on purpose.