Hard to explain this one.
It's difficult to write wrap-ups after losses, but even tougher to write them during a streak of losses. I really didn't want to have to write an article with this tone tonight, especially when playing the Stars.
I actually thought the Sharks were going to control this game after watching the first few minutes of the first. They were strong on the forecheck, were generating chances, and had a good amount of flow to the offensive game.
And then the penalties, oh, the penalties.
Setoguchi's double minor was understandable, as he prevented an almost sure goal off the stick of Loui Eriksson. However, as the period wore on, and more Sharks went to the box, it became apparent that the momentum that the Sharks generated early in the period was going to be wasted.
Although the Sharks were on the kill for a good chunk of the first, they still managed to outshoot the Stars 13-11 during the period and escaped down only a goal. I expected the Sharks to come out hungry in the second, but instead the defense played a porous game and the forwards did little to help the situation, leading to three straight Dallas tallies.
The Sharks made a game of it in the third with two quickies by Boyle and Setoguchi, but the Stars quickly undid the good work with two shorthanded goals on Thomas Griess, who replaced Nabokov after the fourth goal in the second. After that, the game was pretty much over, short two more Dallas goals. The 8 goals allowed are the most the Sharks have given up this year, one more than the seven against Chicago early in the season.
I thought the team as a whole played a very poor game, with only a few players impressing me at any point. Boyle was giving it his all while the game was still close (pumping 8 pucks on net), and I liked the play of the third line with McGinn on the wing, especially early in the game. Other than that, though, it was a game rife with turnovers, weak plays in all zones, and an overall laxidasical effort.
Boyle came down hard on his teammates after the loss to Anaheim, and deservedly so. Including tonight, the Sharks have allowed the first goal in 11 of their last 12 games. That's a telling stat.
How will the Sharks recover? Well, they need better play from Nabokov. That's the primary concern. His save percentage has taken a tumble in the last few weeks, and tonight was no help. The defense around him has to be better as well, and anyone who thinks that Vlasic isn't missed is crazy.
The offense, although they managed 46 shots on Lehtonen, were inconsistent on the forecheck and turned the puck over consistently. The forwards need to simplify their game in order to generate opportunities, and must go after second chances and rebounds furiously.
I would not want to be in the Sharks dressing room tonight, and I doubt the players want to be there, either. Instead of taking advantage of a weak opponent, they dropped their worst game of the year after an effortless tilt versus Anaheim on Sunday.
Planks article tomorrow will cover many of the feelings we share about the Sharks current stretch of play. With Phoenix's recent hot play, a top three seed is no guarantee, especially if the Sharks continue this f ree fall. These next 13 games are going to be tough for Doug Wilson, Todd McLellan, and the Sharks team leadership. I would be surprised if Wilson didn't make a few tweaks to the roster, perhaps bringing up some players to challenge the Sharks current group for ice time. And although I don't pay much attention to lip service, I want to see quotes after tonight's game, especially from McLellan, Boyle and others.
They should be pissed, because I sure am.