The San Jose Sharks dropped their sixth-game in a row last night and they once again accomplished the feat in traditionally excruciating fashion. Logan Couture, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Chris Tierney lie among the wounded in San Jose’s 7-2 loss to the Predators on Saturday night, a loss that leaves the door open for Anaheim to take sole possession of the Pacific on Sunday.
Couture took a puck to the face and left during the third period while both Vlasic and Tierney were unable to suit up for action. Tierney’s injury is likely lower-body (they called it and upper body injury) and Vlasic’s is listed as an upper-body injury. There was no immediate update following the game.
In a vacuum, Saturday’s game was a scheduled loss much in the same way Tuesday’s was. A road back-to-back against a very good Nashville team without Vlasic is not a game San Jose was ever likely to win. That doesn’t excuse a handful of very real problems for the Sharks as they take a couple days off to lick their wounds.
That the team, at least on the ice, seems to be letting frustration creep into their game in the form of post-whistle shoving and jawing is concerning. That the defense has turned into a sieve, is concerning. That the goals aren’t coming anymore, is concerning.
Brent Burns and Paul Martin are allowing scoring chances at an alarming rate, Joe Thornton isn’t playing at the level he’s capable of and Pete DeBoer insists on playing Micheal Haley when better options are available. Then Haley, who has done right by himself for the vast majority of this season, does something absolutely inexcusable late in a game that’s decided when he takes a run at a player who admittedly makes a bad hit.
Listen, it’s a bad hit. But it doesn’t matter. There’s no place in the game for what Haley proceeded to do after he received it. I’ve done my best to make it clear when I’ve criticized lineup decisions, like DeBoer playing Haley in 54 games this season, that’s what they’ve been lineup critiques. But this is different: Haley charging after a guy and throwing a punch at him in that scenario is inexcusable and he deserves to be suspended for it. That’s all there is to it.
Unfortunately it comes after the fourth line played a pretty solid game. Timo Meier and Marcus Sorensen both looked very good and I believe they’ll look even better with a solid center on that line. Whether that’s Chris Tierney, Ryan Carpenter or Danny O’Regan, it’s time to give those guys a longer look with someone who can generate some offense.
That’s not going to solve the Sharks’ problems. This team has issues right now, and it’s not Tomas Hertl, Joonas Donskoi and depth scoring. It starts at the top. Thornton hasn’t played well enough. The top line got its butt kicked last night and the second line got its butt kicked against the Stars on Friday. There are legitimate, big questions to ask about the Sharks right now and they go well beyond looking at the numbers.
For now, the team needs to take a look in the mirror and figure out what it’s about. San Jose has until Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. to do it. Hold onto your butts.