Sharks Gameday: Let's not do that again

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7:30 PST
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11-6-0, 22 points 9-5-4, 22 points
8th in Western Conference
10th in Western Conference

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Blue Jackets Xtra

 

With news of Mike Moore's demotion to Worcester on Friday afternoon, Sharks fans will be pleased to hear that one of Douglas Murray or Niclas Wallin will be in the lineup tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets. And after a pair of two goal leads ended up in blown standings points in back to back road games, it's safe to say their addition back into the lineup couldn't have come at a better time.

Before the Sharks headed on their quick road trip, Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan spoke with Mark Emmons of the San Jose Mercury News. He stated that the coaching staff would give the two young blueliners a chance to succeed, and refrain from sheltering them from the opposition:

Said Sharks coach Todd McLellan: “We really believe that these two can play. And with two of them in the lineup, you can’t hide them. But we don’t want to protect them. We want to expose them and see what they can do.”

>> Working The Corners, "New Look on Defense for Sharks Tonight"

However, those feelings didn't exactly transfer to in-game situations, with Moore and Joslin being heavily hidden from both the Avalanche and Stars during the 120+ minutes of available ice time in the Sharks two overtime losses:


San Jose Sharks Defenseman (@COL, @DAL)

Player
GP
TOI @ COL
TOI @ DAL
TOTAL TOI
Avg TOI/GP
Dan Boyle
2
28:49
28:13
57:02
28:31
Marc-Edouard Vlasic
2
25:56
24:09
50:05
25:02
Jason Demers
2
24:02
24:05
48:07
24:03
Kent Huskins
2
20:34
20:26
41:00
20:30
Derek Joslin
2
10:36
12:11
22:47
11:23
Mike Moore
2
9:31
10:41
20:12
10:06

Does Huskins get torched in the neutral zone against Colorado with a little less ice time? Does Vlasic have enough juice left in the tank to make plays? Does Boyle conjure the energy reserves to clear the crease? Do the Sharks as a whole find a way to clear the puck and preserve the lead in the last ten minutes of these games?

Hard to say for certain-- road games are tough for the away coach because the home team is provided the last change. With the game on the line and the Sharks holding a lead, McLellan is likely loathe to put out an inexperienced player like Joslin or Moore because the threat is that Joe Sacco or Marc Crawford would switch to one of their top lines in an attempt to capitalize on some less threatening opposition.

But the fact remains that McLellan essentially ran his top four into the ground in back to back nights. That's a helluva workload in twenty four hours, with about five or six shifts more for Boyle, Vlasic, Demers, and Huskins than they are familiar with on any given night. And it could be a reason why the Sharks ran out of gas at the end of the game and blew those leads.

Thankfully, the Sharks have a day's rest before tonight's game at HP, coming off the back to back against Colorado and Dallas. Hopefully that will alleviate some of the problems experienced due to high minutes and low rest. However, the Sharks don't have an easy opponent tonight, with Columbus on the docket.

Columbus has historically been a team that seems to play its best hockey against the Sharks, and lately, the've been playing that way in general on the road. Columbus is an impressive 6-1-0 away, including a 5-3 win against the Pacific leading Kings on Wednesday. What's more impressive, the Jackets are just 5-5-0 at home, an interesting early season split.

Regardless, games between the Sharks and Blue Jackets are always close, tough affairs, and we shouldn't expect this one to be any different. Luckily for the Sharks, the Blue Jackets will be coming off the first game of a back to back tonight, beating the Anaheim Ducks. Although a purportedly elite team such as San Jose shouldn't need to count on another team's lack of rest to help win a game, any advantage should be taken as a blessing considering the Sharks recent struggles.

Take the Sharks last two for what they are, late game meltdowns which led to overtime losses. Still, the Sharks did fall into an early two goal deficit against Dallas, and had to claw their way back. If the Sharks really want to get over the hump, they're going to have to play well in all 60 minutes. With two straight blown leads on the books, we shouldn't expect much less.

Prediction: Sharks win 4-1. Goals by McGinn (x2) and Couture (x2).

Go Sharks.

Jason Plank and Matt Taylor contributed to this article.

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