As the weather's gotten colder in December, so to has the Sharks' even strength scoring and goaltending. Those areas continued to ail San Jose on the road last night against the Flames, as the Sharks dropped their fourth in a row.
The Sharks actually controlled the puck for most of the game, as Logan Couture's return to the lineup provided the Sharks a huge boost. San Jose accounted for 57.8% of all shot attempts at even strength, and 55.8% when adjusting for score effects. All but three Sharks (Justin Braun, Brenden Dillon, and Patrick Marleau) posted even strength corsi percentages at or above 50%, as Couture's presence allowed Peter DeBoer to roll four scoring lines.
But, as has been the case all month, the Sharks couldn't convert the territorial edge into goals. Chris Tierney did score their first goal at even strength in December, but that would be San Jose's lone even strength tally. The Sharks have scored on just one of their 80 shots at even strength this season.
Meanwhile in the crease, Martin Jones struggled once again, stopping just 11 of the 14 shots he faced. It's the continuation of a potentially worrisome trend. Jones, who hasn't played more than 50 games in a season at any level since 2013, has seen his save percentage decrease each month this season. Alex Stalock was strong in relief (18 saves on 19 shots), but given his own struggles this season and last year, it's not likely the Sharks can rely on him if Jones continues to struggle.
Combine a cold even strength offense and goaltending, and what do you get? A league-worst even strength PDO of 89.1 in of December, including the lowest even strength on-ice shooting percentage and third lowest even strength on-ice save percentage.
The Sharks still hold on to one of the Pacific division's playoff spots...for now. But with the rest of the division sitting just four points behind them and the Kings out to a nine point lead, a continued cold streak could costs the Sharks critical standings points. With a five game road trip including stops in Chicago and Los Angeles looming, the Sharks need their even strength scoring and goaltending to regress closer to the mean.
Otherwise? It could be a long December.