Captain Comeback has hid some pretty porous team-wide numbers for San Jose since the Olympic break.
And it's likely going to start catching up to them. In fact, it probably already has.
Since the NHL resumed play on March 1st the San Jose Sharks have had six games to work out any outstanding issues in preparation for a postseason run-- and while they have gone 3-2-1 in that time span, an admittedly sufficient record at face value, the Sharks have not made it easy on themselves. Nor have they looked especially good in the process.
The "sixty minute effort" talking point that has followed this team for awhile now is applicable here, no matter how welcoming it may be to cast aside as a cheap blanket statement better suited for the likes of Couch Potato Paul and his esteemed associate High Chair Harry. It is a tired line that has unfortunately grown into the everyday verbiage of Sharks fans when discussing the team, one that is usually best served with qualitative analysis of individual players garnished with a broad look at what this means in the context of the season; if one wishes to be considered a reliable source of discussion, that is.
At this point however, I don't think you can label any one individual effort that has brought about the current slide, nor can you really label it a slide per se-- the scoreboard reads 7 points since the Olympics, and even if San Jose has accomplished that mark with some pretty lofty comebacks, there is a silver lining in knowing that they are able to stage these comebacks of epic proportions.
Exciting, yes. They haven't packed up shop and mailed it in after going down early. This has been another criticism of the organization over the years, a black mark that has been addressed on some level during victories against Montreal and Nashville.
But sustainable over the course of the long run? Sustainable during the playoffs when teams will be better and goals much more monumental?
Although it's pretty apparent what has befallen the Sharks these last six games, it never hurts to provide something in visual form. The first image are scoring occurrences throughout this time frame. Opponents goals are red, Sharks goals are blue; click to enlarge if you want to see the time stamps and periods those goals were scored in:
I doubt I need to reiterate how important scoring first is to winning hockey games, but here's some context-- San Jose has a 77.4% winning percentage when scoring first this season, compared to a 51.4% winning percentage when giving up the first goal. Coincidentally, the Sharks are actually 2nd in the league in terms of being able to come back when trailing initially-- silver lining again, but obviously not a situation they wish to find themselves in on the majority of nights.
Here is how the time spent tied/trailing/leading breakdown has gone:
Time spent in Game Situations
|Game ||Tied ||Trail by 1||trail by 2+
||LEad by 1 ||Lead By 2+
Again, it's pretty apparent how San Jose has managed to win games-- scoring in droves, specifically in the third period. The only lengthy period of time the Sharks have held the lead was against Florida on Saturday, which ended with an overtime loss after failing to find any form of jump during the final two periods.
Overall, the Sharks have spent 42.06% of their game time tied, 42.35% down by at least a goal, and 15.59% with the lead.
They have three first period goals, two second period goals, and an astounding fifteen tallies in the third period.
Blaming any one player for this would be a foolish endeavor; yes Nabokov has let in some softies lately and deserves a portion of the pie, but there is so much pie to go around it really doesn't matter. It is truly a team-wide malady that needs be corrected tomorrow, because as we mentioned late last week, this is a big stretch for San Jose in terms of potential playoff teams who are fighting for their lives. And thus far it hasn't been pretty.
Of course there is still ample time to improve before the playoffs. They are still a month away, and a lot of games remain to correct these mistakes before they reach critical mass. Marc-Edouard Vlasic will be returning before the conclusion of the road trip, and getting him back will give San Jose a top-six worth writing about-- when Rob Blake is seeing 23:55 of ice time and Dan Boyle is out there for 24:03 despite missing half of the first period due to a game misconduct penalty, well, there is bound to be some issues.
However, things need to improve sooner rather than later. Another string of post office performances to round out the week and you had better bet ol' Chicken Little will be making the rounds rather frequently.
Slightly ahead of schedule.