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The Morning After: A Tale of Two Sharkies

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"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Sharks are 6-6 on the season. They've scored 33 goals. They've allowed 33 goals. By that measure, they look okay, mediocre. But that's only how they average out.

They have moments where they appear to be the best team in the NHL, and simultaneously, in the same game, they can look among the worst. That seemed to be the case last night in their 5-2 loss to, an admittedly talented, Columbus team with a 2-10 record entering the game.

The best of times...

In the last 45 minutes of the game, the Sharks outshot the Blue Jackets 38-12. Score effects do come into play here in the third period, but that is still a dominant stretch any way you slice it.

The top line was insanely good. Beyond the two goals for Joe Pavelski, all the skaters in the top six finished over 70% in even strength shot attempts. "You know, I've had no problem with our top six," head coach Peter DeBoer said. "Both those lines showed up. They might not get up on the board every night, but both those lines are pushing the pace."

Shot Attempts by Top Six Forwards - via HockeyStats.ca

Name Attempts For Attempts Against Shot Attempt %
Joe Thornton 31 9 77.5
Patrick Marleau 24 8 75
Joel Ward 20 7 74.07
Joe Pavelski 33 13 71.74
Tomas Hertl 22 9 70.97
Joonas Donskoi 26 11 70.27

Joe Thornton had the type of performance he had when he first came to San Jose. Joe Pavelski is a goal-scoring machine - now with 6 goals in his last 5 games. And then there's Joonas Donskoi. Somehow, he picked up only his second point of the season last night, despite having game after game on that top line where he looks like he belongs. "Two great players, and it's easy to be the third guy in the line," Donskoi said. "I just try to work hard every night and go to the net and skate hard." While a lot of players have had success with Thornton and Pavelski, not many look like Donskoi when they do it. His puck control is very strong and his hands may be the most impressive on the team - at least up there with Pavelski's.

The second line had a sneakily strong good performance last night - and all season long. Joel Ward is still second on the team in points, Tomas Hertl looks like he's taken a step forward into a legitimate top six player, and Patrick Marleau continues to defy the laws of nature and have the legs of a 23 year old. Getting Couture back in a few weeks can only help this line and the depth throughout the lineup.

The worst of times...

The Sharks came out flat for the first 15 minutes. Shots were 12-4 in Columbus' favor, shot attempts were 23-8.That was nearly half of the Blue Jackets' attempts for the whole game - they'd finish with 49. "I thought the first ten minutes of the games we were standing, watching," DeBoer said. "I don't know whether it was the fact we're playing 3 (games) in 4 (days) or that they were more desperate, we weren't ready to play."

The powerplay continues to have some troubles as well, at least from a results standpoint. "It's moving alright, I think, at times - I guess I didn't realize we hadn't scored at home yet," Pavelski said. "For us, our powerplay, we demand a lot out of ourselves and expect a lot. It's just unacceptable."

While the top unit has gotten chances, the second unit has not. And probably not coincidentally, the second power play unit has to feature at least one player from a struggling third or fourth line. "I'm not getting enough out of our bottom six," DeBoer said. "We're close to having to make some changes there."

Shot Attempts by Bottom Six Forwards - via HockeyStats.ca

Name Attempts For Attempts Against Shot Attempt %
Tommy Wingels 14 6 70
Bryan Lerg 7 5 58.33
Matt Nieto 9 11 45
Barclay Goodrow 6 10 37.5
Mike Brown 4 9 30.77
Chris Tierney 4 11 26.67

The third line was pretty good overall, but there's clearly something wrong with the fourth line. That trio was on for a goal against, and to make matters worse for Tierney, he also had a slashing penalty in the first period. "We're struggling," Tierney said. "We're not winning enough battles. Myself, it's not there right now and we need to be better, we need to be effective, and we need to chip in for us to win games consistently." Perhaps the team tries a few games with Brown scratched, or even a stint with Tierney trying to regain his form with the Barracuda for a few games. Things may not change too much, though, until Melker Karlsson is finally ready to get called up.

For last night at least, Martin Jones didn't appear to be the inhuman puck stopping machine he was in the early part of the season. "Playing a fragile team, we give up an early goal, and a couple soft ones in the second," Jones said. "We need to be better." That said, he let in three goals off of strange deflections and then a perfect corner snipe by Scott Hartnell. "I think there's probably at least one there tonight he'd like to have back," DeBoer said. "But I'm confident he'll bounce back.

Jones and the Sharks will try to rebound on Thursday as they face the Florida Panthers at 7:30 pm from SAP Center.