Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The Sharks out-shot an opponent and still lost.
Despite an offensive thrashing by the Sharks last night at the SAP Center, and I mean a thrashing, they were still unable to bring home two points, losing to the inconsistent Winnipeg Jets, 3-2. The loss means that they have now lost four games in a row, their second four-game skid so far this season.
If you think that the use of the word “thrashing” was a bit hyperbolic, then I invite you to see for yourself:
The Sharks had 53 shots on goal in all situations, and 81 — yes, 81 — unblocked shot attempts in all situations when the final horn sounded. Not a period had gone by where the Sharks were even challenged by the Jets in shot attempts, especially in the second period, where they out-shot the Jets 28-9.
To his credit, the Jets’ starting goalie, Connor Hellebuyck, had an absolutely stellar performance. He posted a perfect 1.000 percent high-danger save percentage at 5-on-5, facing 13 high-danger chances and stopping all of them. Despite having an expected goals against (xGA) of six (!!!), Hellebuyck consistently bailed out his Jets teammates in all 60 minutes.
The same can not be said for his opponent across the ice, Martin Jones. Even though he didn’t come close to facing what Hellebuyck faced in terms of shots, it was still a lackluster performance for Jones, who finished the night with an unimpressive .769 save percentage at 5-on-5, despite having an xGA of .66. He only faced one high-danger chance at 5-on-5, though, and stopped it. It was the medium- and low-danger chances that doomed him and the Sharks last night, as two of Winnipeg’s eight medium-danger chances were not stopped.
In morning skate, it seemed as though Head Coach Peter DeBoer was going to shake up the defensive pairings. Mario Ferraro was skating with Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic was with Erik Karlsson and Brenden Dillon was with Tim Heed. Unfortunately, come game time, this was not to be seen. Considering the fact that the defense as a whole has not been great, this would have been a good opportunity for the coaching staff to change some things. It may be a while before we see that in game action, though.
There are always some positives to take away, though, and tonight was no exception. Aside from a miscue from Evander Kane that led to the eventual game-winning goal by Nikolaj Ehlers, the offense as a whole was solid, especially the fourth line. The combination of Jonny Brodzinski, Barclay Goodrow and Noah Gregor looked very good, although it was cut short after Brodzinski had to go to the dressing room, seemingly getting banged up a few times. Brodzinski appeared to be holding his shoulder on the Sharks’ TV feed, which isn’t a great sign seeing how he had shoulder surgery last year. When the fourth line was on last night, though, it was on.
As Sheng pointed out, even Tim Heed was getting in on some of the action! He had 11 minutes of ice time in the game and had two shots individually, as well as an xGF of 0.82. The Sharks out-shot the Jets 10-2, with him on the ice as a whole.
The demise of Erik Karlsson has been greatly exaggerated as well. He carried an xGF of 3.94 in all situations, with the Sharks out-shooting and out-chancing the Jets by considerable margins (27-5 and 38-11, respectively) with him on the ice. The Sharks also had 18 high-danger chances when No. 65 was on the ice, and only two high-danger chances went the opposite way.
The Sharks aren’t out of the woods yet with their issues, and probably won’t be until more considerable changes are made, but things seem to be getting a little better.