Despite head coach Peter DeBoer’s rejection of the excuse, the Marc-Edouard Vlasic injury is impacting the San Jose Sharks…
There is no denying that the San Jose Sharks are a different team after the Marc-Edouard Vlasic injury. Their third straight loss resulted from a Minnesota Wild comeback at SAP Center Thursday, Jan. 5.
The Sharks lost just once entering the third period ahead over the first 36 games of the 2016-17 NHL season. They have now done it twice in three games without Vlasic.
San Jose allowed more shots than it registered in just 13 of its first 36 games. It happened in the first two since Vlasic’s injury and again in the third period Thursday.
More to the point and more importantly, the Sharks had 47 points in the first 36 games. They were hot, winning eight of nine by again dominating the Philadelphia Flyers. That gave them a two-game lead in the Pacific Division.
Meanwhile, San Jose has one point in the three games without Vlasic. Its lead in the Pacific Division has shrunk to half a game over the Anaheim Ducks.
Of course, head coach Peter DeBoer diminished the impact of Vlasic’s absence to The Gackle Report after the game:
"Giving up five goals is inexcusable. That’s on our goalie, our team defense—everybody.The Marc-Edouard Vlasic injury has pressed Brenden Dillon into a larger role for the San Jose Sharks: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports"
Naturally nine goals would be scored in regulation when two of the four elite defenses. However, the high-scoring game did not emerge until the second half of the game.
In fact, the Sharks held a 23-10 edge in shots with just over a minute left until the second intermission. Their 41st attempt (vs. 29) was from Dylan DeMelo that the Wild blocked to start a rush. He then committed a penalty to prevent the score.
From that point on, Minnesota had eight more attempts (29-21) and five more shots (16-11) than San Jose. In 11:19, a 2-0 deficit became a 5-4 victory.
Joonas Donskoi scored first for the Sharks 8:22 into the second period. Kevin LaBanc found him joining the rush and Brenden Dillon got a secondary assist for moving the puck deep.
San Jose’s captain extended the lead 3:05 later. Joe Pavelski backhanded home his own rebound from a Brent Burns shot-pass deflection.
The Wild power play scored just before intermission. Eric Staal laced a shot from the slot past Martin Jones.
Zach Parise then tied the game 2:08 in, but the Sharks responded. Joel Ward and Patrick Marleau scored 32 seconds apart to regain the two-goal lead.
However, Staal scored a goal 45 seconds later to get Minnesota back in the game. Captain Mikko Koivu scored the final two over the next 5:12 to win the game.
San Jose held the overall event summary edge for the game: 28-26 faceoffs, 15-15 giveaways, 6-1 takeaways, 22-16 hits, 34-26 shots and 62-58 in attempts but 14-19 in blocks.
The Sharks have also been without David Schlemko for the last two games. In a sign he may return, they reassigned AHL call-up Tim Heed Friday.
Schlemko may handle the fourth role on the blue-line depth chart better than Dillon. Mirco Mueller has played well in limited action during each of the last two games. Still, pushing him to the press box probably improves the unit slightly.
San Jose hosts the Detroit Red Wings Saturday to end the home stand. It will be seeking to avoid matching a season-high four-game losing streak. A trip to Alberta to play the Edmonton Oilers Tuesday and Calgary Flames Wednesday follows.