The Sharks have extended the toothless streak to six periods.
For a team that had 45 shots on goal (to the Blue Jackets’ 27), the Sharks never seemed in the game. It wasn’t as if they were being significantly outplayed, they just didn’t have the proverbial “it,” and neither did the game for that fact. There was very little fluid play to be found by either team and too few chances that moved us to the edges of our seats. It wasn’t hard hitting. It wasn’t chippy. Neither team did anything particularly well. But in lieu of a team winning, one team had to not lose.
Tonight that team was Columbus.
The game started slow, then stayed slow. The game’s most outstanding feature might have been the bouncy puck. It wasn’t officially announced that the pucks for tonight’s game were going to be made out of ping pong balls, but it seemed pretty obvious they were. If it felt like the Sharks couldn’t settle into control tonight, the puck played right along with the theme.
It took until the 11:50 mark of the first period for the first goal of the game to come on a bouncing puck that hopped past Logan Couture through the slot and landed near Kevin Labanc, who timed his swipe just as the puck landed to knock it past Sergei Bobrovsky to put the Sharks up 1-0. It was a funky play, but tonight, it was par for the course. Since the Sharks weren’t connecting on passes, certainly not cleanly, this seemed like exactly the type of play that might get them going. It wasn’t.
Five minutes later, Columbus shoveled a puck to the left and behind the goal where Anthony Duclair would head to get it. Aaron Dell, seeing Duclair was going to get to the puck first, decided to try and poke it to force him to turn away rather than throw it out front. And turn away he did, heading directly behind the net and wrapping the puck around the far post before Dell had even recovered from his ill-advised poke check, tying the game.
After another half period of uninspired, incoherent, bouncy puck play, Columbus got another one on, you guessed, another strange play. Duclair passed the puck out front and it hit Seth Jones’ sizable skates as he came to a stop in front of Dell. The puck popped up and into the net, making it 2-1, Columbus.
Nine minutes later, Nick Foligno made a nice individual play to get in on Dell. With only one direction to go as Erik Karlsson closed on his left, Foligno went right and jammed the puck into Dell’s waiting pad. Save? Not tonight, as Foligno’s follow-through looked like it pushed the puck up and over the outstretched pad and extending Columbus’ lead.
As the third period developed, it seemed the Sharks may have finally found something resembling a spark. They notched 25 of their 45 shots in the third, but far too few of them were of the dangerous variety. There may have been lots of shots, but very little sustained pressure. In the end, the Sharks couldn’t even take advantage of some power play time and the Blue Jackets put in an empty netter to finish the Sharks 4-1.
If the game was a stinker to watch, Logan Couture summed up how it was to play in the postgame scrum: “We weren’t good. We didn’t pass well, we didn’t play hard enough. We didn’t spend enough time in their end. We didn’t forecheck, we turned pucks over. You go down the list we did a lot of things wrong tonight. We got what we deserved.”
All the post-game analysis in the world won’t do a better job summarizing this game than that. Time to look forward to the next.
After a subpar performance against a New York Rangers team that was already four games under .500 just 11 games into the season, the San Jose Sharks (6-3-3) will try to recapture their form against the Columbus Blue Jackets (6-5-0), a team struggling to find their identity among a myriad of question marks.
If the two teams have anything in common at this point in the season, it’s the struggles of their starting goaltenders. A look at goaltender performance this season-to-date finds only Blues’ goalie Jake Allen below Sergei Bobrovsky and Martin Jones.
For Sharks fans, it is an alarming trend, albeit not entirely unfamiliar. While most fans choose to recall only Playoff Martin Jones, the body of work for Regular Season Martin Jones has been erratic at best. Statistics even hint at unreliable. It isn’t that Jones doesn’t have quality goaltending in him, it’s that he finds that mode far too infrequently.
If Jones is confounding for San Jose fans, think about how Columbus fans feel about Bobrovsky, who has two Vezina trophies to his name. Though usually rock solid when healthy, Bobrovsky has muddled his way to a 2-5 start with a benchwarming worthy .882 save percentage.
The Sharks will likely put out similar lines to start the game, but it remains to be seen how quickly Pete DeBoer will turn on his Line Blender™. Joe Thornton didn’t look any worse than most of the rest of the team, but he certainly didn’t have much chemistry with his linemates. If that’s simply a product of rust or a product of the Thornton era coming to its logical conclusion, we will likely discover together over the next month.
Cam Atkinson comes in as the hot hand for the Blue Jackets with 11 points in 11 games (6 goals, 5 assists), returning to form after an injury plagued year last year. For the most part, Columbus falls right around the origin on most charts, as you might expect for a 6-5 team. In other words, so far, their play and results are lining up. The Sharks continue to dominate in areas of quality, the last game notwithstanding.
Timo Meier and his 9 goals (tied for 6th in the NHL) will start again with the Joes. On defense, Erik Karlsson will stay with Brenden Dillon, although that has likely changed 10 or more times since you began reading this sentence. Karlsson is still without a goal this season, but he had a team high 5 shots on goal last game and appears to be finding the identity that will put him on the path toward notching his first goal.
In the crease, the Sharks will turn back to Aaron Dell.
With Martin Jones’ struggles noted above, it seems likely that Dell may be leaned on more and more as the year goes on. Dell is 1-0-2 in three games with a .921 save percentage and a 2.59 goals against average.
According to NHL.com, the Blue Jackets are expected to roll with:
Brian Hedger from the Columbus Dispatch is reporting that Blue Jackets will look to Bobrovsky tonight, along with a few changes to the Jackets’ power play units.
Bobrovsky will get the net tonight for #CBJ and there will be changes to the PP coming, including Werenski/Jones on the same unit (PP1), Murray back to the point on PP2 and Wennberg off the PP altogether.— Brian Hedger (@BrianHedger) November 1, 2018
Here’s one last look at the head-to-head matchup.
Tonight’s game will be broadcast on NBCSCA and the radio call will be on 98.5 KFOX. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET.
Check back then for live reactions and commentary.
It’s that time again, Shark fans. Welcome to November and to the Sharks chance to erase any lingering memories of that stinker against the Rangers. GDub here to watch the game with you all and provide thoughts and commentary on the proceedings. Excited to see how the Sharks bounce back tonight and I look forward to the questions and conversation below.
Pre-game thought: Before puck drop here. Some interesting comments earlier today from John Tortorella about the game being too soft. It will be interesting if that is more white noise from Torts or if his team turns tonight into a truculent affair in response. I’m guessing it’s just white noise.
20:00: Puck is on the ice...here we go!
18:38: Columbus are the ones setting up the zone early. Some back and forth play, but not the exciting back and forth, the “can anybody get anything started” back and forth.
16:11: The Blue Jackets continue to look more dangerous so far. The Sharks had a couple of “one and done” shots on chances that could have developed further, but not clicking with anything sustained yet.
15:10: Erik Karlsson leans into a one-timer from about 18 feet out but at an off angle. Although it hit bodies in front, it was likely the best look so far.
13:36: Thornton from his office behind the net feeds Pavs out front but off-center. Bob was there, but a good chance, again from an off-angle.
Shots are 6:2 CBJ
12:17: Karlsson back on the bench laughing after falling largely on his own. Even though we are 12 games in, you can tell that Karlsson is still second guessing his choices here and there. On that play, he stopped at the line waiting to get set up even though he had crossed before his linemates. I’m betting Karlsson didn’t do a lot of waiting at the line for teammates in Ottawa. It’s the little things.
08:55: Passes are not on-target early here for the Sharks, and 4 giveaways already. Lots of passes behind players so far. Need to get more crisp.
08:32: Save by Dell on wide open point shot. Lots of time for goalies to see pucks. Lots of positional saves.
08:10: Hertl, Couture, put in the work, bouncing puck in the middle, and GOAL Sharks!!!! Kevin Labanc waits for the puck to stop bouncing and fires it past Bob. His 2nd of the year.
Sharks 1, CBJ 0
05:10: Both teams trying to make a push after the first goal. Both intensity and speed are up a notch. Columbus still has a 9-5 shot advantage.
04:39: As soon as I say the above, the play slows to a crawl with a few quick whistles. The most concerning thing is that Couture appears to have gone to the dressing room. No word yet on why although Bakes notes he wasn’t limping. I guess that’s something.
03:30: And now a Goal by CBJ, Anthony Duclair. Dell overcommits to a poke check on a puck that had gone to his right behind the net. Duclair picks it up and gets one of the easier wraparounds you are likely to see.
Sharks 1, Blue Jackets 1
01:54: Pavs and Hertl come in and make a 2 on 1 out of nothing. Decent chance. First Hertl, then Pavs on the rebound. Not the best angle on either shot though. I feel like I’m saying that a lot so far.
00:52: Still no Couture. Fingers crossed. Lines being juggled as a result although we know DeBoer would be doing it anyway.
00:11: Bouncing puck in front almost leads to a wide open Hertl chance. As it is, ends with a Columbus penalty. Sharks to the PP for the final 11 seconds.
00:00: Puck is cleared, period ends.
Sharks 1, Columbus 1
1st Intermission: Not the most exciting period of hockey as neither team was clicking. Shots are 11-10 CBJ but neither team impressing in any one area. Dell definitely carries some blame on making a harmless puck behind the goal into a dangerous play and into a goal. Seems like the Sharks give up momentum quick this year, giving up goals after scoring all too often.
Good to see Labanc getting rewarded.
20:00: Puck drop for Period 2 coming up. Sharks PP continues.
18:53: Sharks finally get set up on the PP and get a good look down low with Hertl on the stuff play. I am pleased to report that Couture is out there.
18:14: Vlasic camping in the Ovi spot on the PP2. Not sure why. I bet Burns can throw it harder from there than Pickles can shoot. Puck bounces out, PP ends.
17:13: Sorenson again almost creates a chance through speed and creativity. Closed off by a CBJ sandwich on D but he sure is fun to watch.
15:50: Labanc with another real good chance down low. He’s going to the dirty areas tonight. I think he may have got a talkin’ to.
13:40: The puck is bouncing all over the place tonight. Looks like ball hockey at times.
12:32: The Sharks are really getting bodies in front of the net now. I like this strategy, especially when other things aren’t clicking. Routine point shot by Ryan made dangerous just by traffic in front. Bob makes the save but it makes an otherwise innocuous play a scoring chance.
10:45: Well, Goal CBJ. Pass out to Seth Jones ends up in his skates while he’s slamming on the brakes. Puck pops right into the open net. Another case of something out of nothing tonight. They didn’t even review it although I thought it might be worth at least a look.
Sharks 1, Columbus 2
09:15: In this writer’s estimation, the Sharks do not look all that different from the Sharks we saw in the Rangers game. I see some complacency and some hesitation in place of brisk playmaking. Shots now 15-17 Sharks so we have that going for us...which is nice.
07:06: Poor Jumbo is tough to watch at the moment. Behind a step still and just zero of his usual chemistry with just about everyone.
05:51: Play slowed down here with multiple whistles. This is one of the more choppy hockey games you’ll see.
05:29: Timo Meier called for hooking on what can only be called a love-tap. Maybe something happened behind the play. Maybe that was just a horrible call. Sharks to the PK.
03:33: After a minute and a half of ineptitude, the Columbus PP finally gets a couple of good looks from the slot. Dell up to the task.
01:49: Is it me or is this game about as entertaining as watching a Sunday pick-up game at the local rink?
01:20: Foligno on a breakaway, Goal. I have watched the replay numerous times and I do not understand how he got that in. Dell was there but I can only blame him. Foligno didn’t have a lot of options. That can’t end up in the net.
Sharks 1, CBJ 3
00:00: Horn sounds, end of 2. Sorenson with Jumbo and Pavs to end the period. Watched the replay of the goal again and I still don’t get how Dell lets that in. I’m not sure I’m ready to blame “just a hockey play” kind of goal. Foligno had Karlsson on him, behind but pushing up the left so he could only go right. Dell seemed to read that correctly and slid over. He just didn’t do it with authority I guess. Not a great way to end the period.
2nd Intermission: Uninspired play all the way around. This game seems like it might be won by whoever wants to lose least (not who wants to win it more) which at the moment looks like the Blue Jackets. The TV crew is lamenting the puck off the skates. I’ll admit, in slo-mo it looks questionable. In real-time, I think that has to be a goal every time. It really doesn’t matter. The Sharks only hope is in showing up for the third in a way we haven’t seen from them in their last five periods.
They don’t look like they aren’t trying per se, but they don’t look like there is any sort of fire there to right the ship. For a short time they were crashing the net and dumping the puck on net. In the last half of that period, that all seemed to fade away.
20:00: Puck about to be dropped. Was the most exciting parts of last period!
18:46: Dell with a good stop on Panarin on a dangerous chance after he passed Burns like he wasn’t there. Ugh.
16:25: Finally, a good shift by Donskoi, Melker, and Suomela. Lots of zone time, a few chances. No goals though.
15:01: Dillon called for embellishment. DIdn’t see it on the first replay, definitely saw it on the 2nd. Having been chopped in my skate before I can say that it is a sudden sharp pain, so maybe he faked it, but maybe that just hurt. Hard to say. Dillon and Duclair both in the box. Teams to go 4 on 4.
11:42: After several minutes of little to note, the Sharks seem a little frustrated and perhaps that’s the spark that’s needed. It looks like they ratcheted up the desperation a touch here. If they can’t start connecting on passes, will it matter?
09:33: Dell makes another nice save, sliding across on a 2 on 1. On the other end, Bob is not really being tested and it is going to be hard to beat him if you aren’t even testing him.
06:26: Bob shuts down Kane who got 5 whacks at a puck in a similar position to the one that Foligno popped over Dell’s pad. Bob keeps it out.
03:33: Dell with another strong save on Duclair after some dangles. Notice how sparse the commentary has gotten? That’s the game folks. I’m still watching, honest.
02:38: CBJ almost scores on the empty net. Low faceoff forces Dell back in but he’ll leave again as soon as he can. Sharks can’t even get anything going with another skater.
01:11: Puck bounces over Burns stick and leaves the zone after some zone time. ZONE TIME! WOOO HOOO. Sometimes you have to count the little victories.
01:01: Well isn’t that perfect. The Sharks get a PP thanks to a mystery call on a faceoff violation. The shorthanded Blue Jackets proceed to easily score on the empty net. This game.
Sharks 1, CBJ 4
00:22: CBJ gets another penalty, SJ with a 2 man PP for the last 22 seconds.
00:00: Horn sounds. The sweet of relief no longer watching this game begins.
FINAL SCORE: Blue Jackets 4, Sharks 1