It’s two steps forward, one step back for the San Jose Sharks. After two solid wins, the team lost 6-3 to playoff contender the Arizona Coyotes. If you missed the game, it was a mixed bag for Sharks’ fans. There were some highs, but also some lows. Here’s what you need to know if you want to sound credible in the break room today.
Phil Kessel, Shark killer
No matter what team Phil Kessel is on, he somehow has the Sharks’ number. Sharks’ fans were probably having flashbacks to the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals last night. Kessel and his line took advantage of a porous Sharks’ defense. The 32-year-old scored two goals and added an assist last night.
His goals came at key points of the game. He scored the first and second goal of the game, giving the Coyotes a lead they never relinquished.
In 20 regular season games against the San Jose Sharks, Kessel has 13 points (8 goals, 5 assists). Thanks Hockey Reference! Then there’s the postseason, where Kessel has 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) in six games. For a streaky scorer, he seems to streak well against the Sharks.
I can’t even with the empty netters...
I understand that coaches want to give their players a chance to win every night, but at some point in time don’t you have to think, maybe I’m giving my players a better shot if I keep the goaltender in the net?
According to More Hockey Stats (I’m not sure how reputable this site is, but it has the information I want so we’re going with it), the Sharks have scored three goals this season with the goaltender pulled and allowed ten goals.
As a fan, empty netters are brutal to watch. Isn’t this season painful enough without adding those easy goals?
Sharks held their own
Now that we’ve looked at the negative, let’s take a look at some of the positive.
This was not a game where the Sharks were horribly outclassed and that’s why they lost. This was a game where they made little mistakes that turned into goals.
The Sharks held possession for a good portion of the first period and most of the second, out-shooting and out-attempting the Coyotes at 5-on-5.
However, an errant pass here and a defenseman out of position there and the Sharks were playing from behind.
Dell deserves to keep his job
None of this was Aaron Dell’s fault.
Dell ended the night with 34 saves on 38 shots. It was a four goals against night, but looking at the types of shots he faced, he made the saves all goaltenders should and tacked on a few highlight reel saves as well. Trouble is that when your teammates are out of position and cheating on the way out of the zone, pucks end up in the back of the net.
Head Coach Bob Boughner agreed in the postgame media scrum.
“I thought he [Dell] made some big saves, especially early on, gave us a chance when we were a little sloppy,” said Boughner. “I don’t put any of this on his shoulders. I just think we weren’t good enough in front of him. I thought defensively, we made too many errors, gave up too many high danger scoring area chances and we didn’t manage the puck properly in the first period, Deller had to make some big saves.”
I expect to see Dell start the game in Colorado too.
A good stop leads to a good goal
And if you’re looking for one of those highlight reel saves, look no further than the second period.
At 10:12 left in the second period, Dell made a save on what looked to be a sure goal. The Sharks quickly turned the puck the other way. Patrick Marleau took the puck into the Coyotes’ zone and stopped at the blueline. Marleau threaded a pass through to Timo Meier and Meier slipped it five-hole on goaltender Adin Hill and it was all tied up at two.
Up next for team teal, a trip to Mile High City to take on the offensively gifted Colorado Avalanche. The Sharks will need to be on their game if they hope to take even a point in Colorado.