A former Buffalo goalie in net who now serves as a backup? Yeah, the Sharks never stood a chance against Chad Johnson and the Calgary Flames on Thursday night. Yes, San Jose played far too sloppily in front of its own net again and on the other end did not bury the chances generated.
Certainly something can be said for the effort of Johnson or the poor showing by Martin Jones and the Sharks defense, but over a long season these bounces look much more like chance than a true rise or dip in “effort” or some other nebulous term. San Jose tried very hard on Thursday night, and questioning that from afar looks a bit silly, but the bounces didn’t come.
Eventually, they will. The Sharks (6-5-0) generated 10.95 scoring chances per 60 minutes 5v5 entering Thursday’s game against the Flames, good enough for fifth in the league (corsica.hockey). San Jose posted 15 scoring chances in 46:20 of 5v5 ice time against Calgary according to hockeystats.ca.
That discounts the seven scoring chances San Jose generated on its five power plays, a less than stellar number by the Sharks’ standards, but nothing to be too concerned about, either. This team generates a ton of chances but so far this season they have not translated into a ton of goals. Look no further than the Sharks’ shooting percentage.
(I’m kidding, you should definitely look deeper than that. That’s just where we’re starting.)
San Jose is shooting 5.79 percent at even strength. That’s 24th in the NHL and a far cry from the 7.69 the Sharks posted last year. Place that shooting percentage on the Sharks’ number of shots this year and the team pots an extra four goals at even strength, good enough for another win or two.
It can be tough to really analyze a team so early in a season without making sweeping conclusions, which is why so many of these posts read like long, and less entertaining, versions of an excellent song. Unless you believe this team suddenly turned into a passive squad with poor shooting skills, a bad power play and an overall lack of effort there’s no reason to worry.
That doesn’t mean San Jose can’t improve. Micheal Haley played again on Thursday night, meaning head coach Peter DeBoer can no longer trot out his “undefeated” stat when referring to the grinder. This loss is certainly not on Haley, but the Sharks don’t have an excuse for icing a suboptimal roster. Playing Matt Nieto gives San Jose a better chance at overcoming bad puck luck — until the team does that, it’s giving other teams an advantage.
That won’t fly against Pittsburgh on Saturday. Let’s see if the Sharks will learn the right lesson from this game.