It won’t change the tie at the top of the Pacific standings, but San Jose played very well through the first half of Thursday’s loss to Edmonton. Heck, the Sharks played a great third period, too. It goes down as a 4-1 loss and the second half of the second period might make you feel San Jose deserved to lose, too, but don’t forget the rest of the game as a result.
Had it not been for the Oilers’ late tally, the Sharks would have entered the first intermission feeling pretty good about themselves. San Jose continued to pour on shots to start the second period, holding Edmonton shotless for the first half of the frame while generating plenty of chances itself.
Those chances didn’t turn into goals and eventually the Oilers found their legs. Edmonton controlled play for all of 10 minutes on Thursday before San Jose took over again for the entirety of the third period; not that it did the Sharks any good on the scoreboard. You can see the 5v5 score-adjusted fenwick below from hockeystats.ca.
That won’t change the result of last night’s game, but it should fill you with confidence as it relates to San Jose’s potential with a healthy lineup. Tomas Hertl played 17 minutes on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski while Ryan Carpenter got a long look as the Sharks’ fourth line center. That gave Chris Tierney yet another audition as the third line center and boy did he make the most of it.
He was one of the best Sharks in terms of possession no matter who he was on the ice against. Tierney may be best suited on the fourth line in the long run, but boy did he make a good case to stick on the third line last night. If his strong 5v5 play keeps up, Marcus and my push for him to get some power-play time may turn into a reality. We can dream.
The power play was by far the biggest disappointment of the night. It generated some chances, but the four-minute power play highlighted San Jose’s need to change things up on the second unit. The Sharks play well with one defender on the top power-play unit and would be wise to do the same on the second.
Dropping Marc-Edouard Vlasic off the second unit in favor of another forward like Tierney, Kevin Labanc or even Timo Meier might provide a boost to a sagging San Jose power play. Vlasic is a premier defender, but while he may fancy himself a great shooter the results haven’t been there and the eye test hasn’t been pretty.
What the Sharks need more than anything is rest. They’ll get a few days of that before hosting Chicago on Tuesday, and they’ll do it tied atop the Pacific with a game in hand on the Oilers. It’s not perfect, but the Sharks find themselves in a better position than they did a season ago. We’ll take it.