The Sharks lost to the Dallas Stars 1-0 last night and have scored only two goals over their past three games. San Jose is riding a three-game losing streak and plays again tonight against a Minnesota team looking to end a lengthy losing streak of its own. It’s not an ideal situation.
But the two losses to Anaheim and Dallas don’t spell the same doom and gloom for the Sharks that the loss to St. Louis did. Against the Blues, San Jose attempted only three scoring chances according to corsica.hockey. The Sharks attempted nine against the Ducks. Those numbers aren’t available yet for last night’s game against the Stars, but let me go out on a limb and say: more.
San Jose wildly outpossessed the Stars, created chances and, apart from a mediocre first period, looked to be the better team. The Sharks played very well on Monday night with the exception of scoring (okay, and the power play was still mediocre). Take a look at this possession chart from hockeystats.ca to get an idea of what I’m after.
Aaron Dell was beaten only once and San Jose ramped up the pressure early in the second period and pressed again late against the Stars. Those lapses you see in the third period are special teams time. Not that San Jose was dominant while up a player, but it’s not as if the Sharks took time off in the third period while playing 5v5.
San Jose is averaging 7.26 5v5 scoring chances per game this year, down slightly from 7.39 per game a season ago (also from corsica.hockey). Over the past five games (not including the Dallas game) the Sharks have attempted the following number of scoring chances, starting with the game furthest away: 11, 8, 8, 3, 9. That’s not a team that has forgotten how to create chances (except against St. Louis, apparently). That’s a team going through a shooting slump.
Teams play like garbage sometimes. Try to process that. The score does not always reflect the way a team played on the ice. That’s why stats like shots, corsi, fenwick, blocked shots and [insert whatever made up shit SAP is trying to sell is] have risen to popularity. There’s more to it than the final score. That’s why you’re here, right? That and the gifs, obviously.
Losses like the one on Monday to the Stars may be near the top of the list in terms of frustration, sure, but it’s a mistake to say the Sharks played poorly. Yeah, they didn’t show up in full force until the second period (that’s not good) but San Jose was the better team and, in my mind, deserved at least a point, if not more, out of that game. Welcome to hockey.
The Sharks haven’t played their best hockey in the past five games, but against Dallas and Anaheim I’ve seen a team that looks ready to break out of a slump. It’s also a team that hasn’t caught any breaks. Perhaps that luck changes against Minnesota tonight. Perhaps not. Only one way to find out.