Showed Up In Name Only
Saturday night the San Jose Sharks, just fresh off an emotional win over the Kings just two nights earlier, showed up in name only versus the Nashville Predators.
Second period goals from Roman Josi and Patric Hornqvist (who had two) combined with 35 saves from former Shark farm hand Carter Hutton were all the Predators would need. The visitors from Nashville cruised to a 3-0 win over Team Teal before a shocked sold out Shark Tank.
The effort by the Sharks was both one of their more frustrating and frankly worst efforts of the season. Nothing would go right for the Sharks who by game’s end only proved why shots on goal stats sometimes can be anything from misleading to just flat out irrelevant.
The Sharks outshot Nashville 35-22 for the game, 18-5 in the third period. However, the Sharks could not get anything past Hutton and honestly rarely came close. Brent Burns hit three goalposts on the evening, which were the highlights of the game for Team Teal. Antti Niemi made 19 saves that are very much in the end nothing more than a blur, as well as an afterthought.
Preds Won Game In Second Period
Nashville scored all three of their goals in the second period basically taking care of any possible doubts about the outcome before the stanza was half over.
Hornquist scored the first of his two goals on a tip in off a rebound from a shot by Matt Cullen that Niemi couldn’t cover up in time. Hornqvist would make it 2-0 Predators just over five minutes later and just a moment after the Sharks squandered their second and last power play chance of the game.
The Sharks, in the second period, statistically had no even strength scoring chances as they could not figure out anyway to beat Nashville’s trap. Even when the Sharks put up 18 shots on goal in the final period, most of the pucks were routinely stopped by Hutton as Team Teal got no traffic in front of the net whatsoever. Roman Josi added the Predators’ third goal of the second period late when he was able to get a puck on net that actually deflected off Jason Demers skate and went past Niemi.
Power Play Chances Few and Futile
The Sharks only had two power play opportunities in the entire game. Outside of two shots by Burns, one which hit the goal post, the power play was otherwise insipid at best.
The Sharks just did not handle the man advantage opportunities with any sense of urgency to speak of and failed to convert chances when they came along. The Sharks spent most of their power play time chasing the puck down after a Predators clearing pass and being frustrated by a defense they could not figure out.
Much of the credit here goes to Nashville, which played a very smart and efficient game versus the Sharks. This made Hutton’s night much easier in the net for Nashville to where all he had to do was patiently wait for the puck to come his way. The Sharks on the penalty kill were able to shut down the only power play the Predators would get in the second period after Nashville built its insurmountable lead.
Sharks Brass Should Be Concerned
For all the momentum the Sharks should have had following their win over the LA Kings Thursday night, there was no apparent carry-over from that game to this whatsoever.
The Sharks showed up to arena Saturday and were clearly there in name only and at times looked almost disinterested. Sharks captain Joe Thornton finally showed some emotion late in the third period when he and Hornquist got into a shoving match. Outside of that it seemed as if Team Teal was just anxious to get the game over with as the night wore on.
With just three games remaining before the post season starts the Sharks have really no traction heading into the playoffs. Though it was expected that the Sharks might struggle to score against LA, it was a surprise in this game that they were not only kept off the board, but Nashville made it look easy. If this does not concern the Team Teal coaches it absolutely should. The Sharks left the Tank Saturday night looking a lot more like a dysfunctional train wreck than a team heading into the post season with a high seeding. If the Sharks perform like this in the post season irregardless of who the opponent might be, they’ll be in big trouble and simply won’t last more than four or five games. In short this means they’ll be done playing before April is out.
If nothing else came out of this game Saturday night, the Sharks as a team have plenty of things they will need to address before the playoffs start in a week and a half.
As for the Pacific Division, if Anaheim goes on to win it this would be Team Teal’s own fault. Home losses to Carolina, Florida, Winnipeg and now Nashville will be the reason they handed the division to their arch rivals. At the same time, it’s clear that maybe they should just be focusing on getting ready to play the LA Kings in the first round of the upcoming post season.
Next Sharks Game
The Sharks will play the arch rival Ducks in Anaheim this coming Wednesday Night. Whatever momentum they lacked in the Predators game they should be able to muster for the Ducks. The Sharks may still have a shot at the Pacific Division though it will be remote at best. The puck drops a mile east of Disneyland at 7pm PDT. The game can be seen on CSNCA in Northern California and can be heard along the Sharks Radio Network.
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