San Jose didn’t seize its most obvious opportunities in its wins over the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators on Tuesday and Wednesday night, respectively. The Sharks got oodles of chances on the man-advantage and while they scored once on the power play against the Leafs and practically did the same against the Senators, greater chances went begging.
The Sharks’ let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers midway through the third period on Wednesday after Mike Hoffman checked Logan Couture in the back of the head. A five-minute major penalty should have been all the Sharks needed to put the game to bed. Instead, Ottawa — a team that does not excel at penalty killing — survived.
To make matters worse, San Jose put itself in the box time and again, seemingly convinced it needed to lose this game. At some point these wasted opportunities had to come back to bite them, right? After all, this lack of jump or energy needed to be punished by some almighty hockey god up in the heavens, right?
Not quite. What’s most remarkable about the more religious aspects of the NHL is the accompanying ignorance. We see what we want to see, after all. Stat nerds made up correlation vs. causation and deciding the Sharks’ power play is broken based on the last 15 games is a reasonable thing to say because, shit, I dunno, why not?
Chris Tierney and Kevin Labanc had other ideas last night. Tierney corralled a rebound and delivered it past Mike Condon to help the Sharks towards winning a game they probably shouldn’t have won. That’s fine with me, particularly given the way the last meeting with the Senators went down. Plus, Hoffman might have killed Couture, so San Jose deserved this one.
The last narrative dagger was a little more fun. Chris Neil, noted goon and beloved in the city of Ottawa, played in his 1,000th NHL game this weekend against the Los Angeles Kings. What’s most remarkable about this feat is that he’s not been suspended a single time in his NHL career; that says more about the incompetence of the NHL than his actions as a player, of course, but it’s amazing nonetheless.
He celebrated those accomplishments by taking a stupid penalty and then getting called on in the shootout. Martin Jones saved his weak shot while laughing before Labanc, a rookie, showed Neil up. There aren’t any hockey gods, but sometimes the dice smile upon us.