The sun rose in the east this morning and the San Jose Sharks lost in Buffalo last night, bringing their all-time record in the Nickel City to 2-15-2. The overtime loss improved San Jose’s point percentage to a sparkling 15.79, if it makes you feel any better. More importantly, the Sharks gained points on the Kings, Ducks and Canucks (the Flames beat the Penguins in a shootout).
So it’s not all bad, right? The Sharks didn’t play all that poorly, either. They controlled play at even strength (and god help them had they not, right?) but poor play while shorthanded did them in against the Sabres. I’d be remiss if I didn’t note dressing Micheal Haley as the fourth line center while Ryan Carpenter gathered dust in the press box isn’t exactly the kind of stuff that’ll win Pete DeBoer the Jack Adams, but I digress.
San Jose led 4-1 early in the third period before giving up three goals in all of 3 minutes and 28 seconds of game time. One of those came on the power play and two came at even strength (the Sharks allowed two power-play goals on Buffalo’s three opportunities). In a word: Bad.
I’m not in the analyze-every-goal-to-criticize-a-goaltender business so all you amateur goalie coaches can do that on your own time. The Sharks allowed nine shots on goal in three 5v4 opportunities and the Sabres scored on two of them. That’s a very bad night at the office, no matter how you slice or dice it. It only took one shot for Buffalo to win in overtime, which belongs in the “that’s hockey” category of gripe.
From hockeyviz.com, here are where the Sabres took those special teams shots:
A whopping six of nine of those shots register as scoring chances because they come inside the “home plate area” (between and below the faceoff dots) — not what you’re looking for while on the penalty kill. San Jose has a decent PK because it forces opponents into the type of shots Jack Eichel took. Those will turn into goals now and again, but the Sharks will take their chances compared to the kind of opportunities given to Reinhart in close.
Blowing a three-goal lead stings, particularly to a bad team and particularly doing it as quickly as the Sharks did. It also shouldn’t be blown out of proportion now that most of us have had some time to close our computers and take a few deep breaths. San Jose bossed the Sabres at even strength precisely the way we expect them to despite not icing an optimal lineup.
The Sharks picked up two out of four points against a pair of teams they really should have swept. Regardless, they’re at the top of the Pacific and continue their road trip against the Boston Bruins on Thursday. Onwards and upwards.