For large stretches of Saturday's loss to the Anaheim Ducks, the San Jose Sharks controlled play. San Jose was arguably the better team, even adjusting shot attempts for the score, but a slow start set the tone in a tough loss.
Corey Perry got things going for the Ducks, who tested Martin Jones just 17 times while playing in the second of a back-to-back that saw them pick up two wins. Jones was solid for the Sharks, who just couldn't muster the necessary offense to back him at home.
Anton Khudobin played a great game for the Ducks, stopping all 31 of San Jose's shots, including seven power-play shots. So right, let's start with that: Getting beat by a goaltender having a great night is furstrating, but at least speaks to a solid process for a San Jose team that hasn't looked quite as impressive in the underlying numbers as it did to start the season.
Still, the Sharks got four tries on the power play, including back-to-back penalties to end the game, and couldn't find the breakthrough they were looking for. Seven power play shots should get you at least one goal (the media power play shooting percentage is 13.6, so seven shots = .952 goals) but you'd also like to see more shot attempts with four chances a man up.
The Sharks' scoring chances are on the left and they are plentiful. Their chances outnumbered the Ducks and many came from right around the crease. So despite not getting the goals they needed, the Sharks did the work necessary to score against a very good team, record notwithstanding.
Now about that fourth line. It has been as bad as the Sharks first line has been magnificent. Matt Nieto was banished to play with Mike Brown and Micheal Haley on Saturday night, which is the equivalent of a good TV show being slated to air on Friday nights.
All three finished the night with a -7 shot attempt differential at even strength, with only Brenden Dillon (-11) having a worse night. That came in sheltered minutes against an Anaheim fourth line that is infinitely more talented — which brings up, you know, why Peter DeBoer insists on playing a pair of bad hockey players instead of, well, good ones. Even if you believe Brown and Haley bring energy to the team with their fighting ability, surely only one is needed to get that job done?
The Sharks are hurt for depth in the absence of Logan Couture, Raffi Torres and Melker Karlsson, but it's time to give someone else a try. Ben Smith has lodged himself in DeBoer's dog house, but goodness even Barclay Goodrow can provide more to the lineup than Haley or Smith. Karlsson's return seems imminent — and it can't come soon enough. The fourth line won't absolutely sink the Sharks this season, but in a tight game like Saturday's it can make all the difference.