3-for-17. That’s the early-season statistic that has cost the San Jose Sharks more wins than anything else. It hasn’t been a poor power play (ninth in the NHL), penalty kill (fourth in the NHL), goals-per-game average (first in the NHL) or goals-allowed on average (fifth in the NHL).
It’s that nasty, atrocious 3-for-17 that’s killing the Sharks. It’s that 3-for-17 that’s dropped San Jose down the standings. 3-for-17 is the Sharks current rate of success in the shootout, and it’s derailing what began as a stellar season. The team is now 1-4 in the shootout despite being the top team in the NHL in that regard during the lockout-truncated 2013 campaign.
Only one Sharks player has finished a chance during the breakaway competition, with Logan Couture accounting for all three successful conversions that the Sharks have had so far this season. That’s simply not good enough, and San Jose has left a lot of points on the table this season because of their inability to beat the opposition’s goaltenders one-on-one.
If the Sharks were rolling out a trio of lousy and talent-less forwards, then perhaps this trend would be more excusable. That isn’t the case though. Tomas Hertl has shown a tremendous flair for the dramatic with his slick moves with defensemen backchecking and hooking, trying to haul him down.
Yet he can’t seem to finish the job in the shootout.
Joe Thornton? Nadda. Dan Boyle? Nothing. Joe Pavelski? Not a chance.
San Jose’s ineptitude in the shootout is embarrassing, and given how well the team has performed through the first several weeks of the season it should be sickening to watch them slide down the standings as the Anaheim Ducks and Phoenix Coyotes and Vancouver Canucks continue to pile on the points.
It’s been two weeks now since the Sharks have won a hockey game. While they’ve accumulated several loser points, we could be having a very different discussion right now if even three or four more players had converted on their shootout chances. Suddenly the Sharks are winners of three of their last five and there’s no reason to panic.
That isn’t the way that things have gone though, and each and every member of this group should be spending extra time out on the ice to iron out some maneuvers that work. We’ve got players missing the net on their shots. We’ve seen players fire the puck from 10 feet away directly into the goaltenders chest.
What is this, 2006? Haven’t these guys been working on their best moves in practice over and over again for years? Right now the Sharks look like amateurs in the shootout, and that needs to change in a hurry before San Jose leaves any more valuable points behind.