"Burn the tape," said Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer to Friend of the Blog Kevin Kurz on Thursday night. That quote followed a 5-4 loss to the Winnipeg Jets at SAP Center — the place the Sharks allegedly want four games at in a first-round seven game series.
So, that's not happening. With the Sharks locked into the third spot in the Pacific Division, let's look ahead to four areas San Jose needs to clean up before the playoffs begin. Don't worry, these all come with a healthy dose of feel-good optimism.
San Jose's penalty kill struggled mightily this season. Ranked 22nd in the league, San Jose posted a meager 80.2 kill percentage while also giving up the fifth-most high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes while shorthanded in the NHL. The only saving grave to the Sharks penalty kill is that it doesn't get used that often. The Sharks took the sixth-fewest penalties in the league and referees' propensity to let things go in the playoffs may bode well for San Jose.
The Sharks' defense is fine, generally speaking, but when they break down hoo boy do things get interesting. Martin Jones is steady as they come when the Sharks keep their structure, but it when things get wild Jones doesn't have the athleticism of someone like Jonathan Quick to give you the #clutch #save. Thankfully, San Jose really doesn't give up many high-danger scoring chances at even strength. The Sharks gave up the fourth-fewest in the league this season.
Losing to Winnipeg because of bad luck or poor goaltending is one thing — but the Sharks just didn't play that well Thursday night. Sure, Micheal Haley was a -5 in all situations and isn't as good a hockey player as Dainius Zubrus, but there's really not just one thing or player you can hang San Jose's play on. The bottom line is they just weren't good enough against a team that's rightfully missing the playoffs.
Secondary Possession Play
That old saying in baseball "Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain" refers to the first two guys in a rotation being excellent but the others being resoundingly mediocre. That kinda applies to the Sharks this season. Joe Thornton's play blows my mind every single time I watch a Sharks game — the other three lines? Well...it's not such a rosy picture.
Part of the reason I died on the "Split up Pavelski and Thornton" hill is that the Sharks are a better team overall when they get that depth. Right now San Jose is very much "Thornton and pray for rain." That's not going to fly against the Ducks or Kings. Probably.
Oh, and The Neutral is on Twitter again. Go tell him how terrible I am.