Following a back-to-back weekend against the Boston Bruins (3-1, L) and Seattle Kraken (3-1, W), the San Jose Sharks took a one-day road trip to Las Vegas for their second meeting this season with the Vegas Golden Knights.
Between losing starting goaltender James Reimer after the first period due to a lower-body injury and being held to just 17 shots and one goal across 60 minutes, the Sharks fell 3-1 in a loss where there weren’t many positives to draw on.
Head coach Bob Boughner, forward Andrew Cogliano and goaltender Zachary Sawchenko met with members of the media to reflect on the loss and the blind spots in the Sharks’ play.
Here’s what they had to say:
On Reimer’s condition: No update right now. Obviously lower body, couldn’t return. We’ll probably know more tomorrow when our doctors look at him.
On the heavy schedule: All these guys looked really tired tonight, and it’s no excuse. You gotta find ways at this time of year. That game was within reach, even though we weren’t playing well for over 40-something minutes. I think we’ve played six games in 10 days and our big guys have all played a lot — nobody’s played more than Reims. You can see our schedule and I think that Reims is our tenth regular out of the line-up. It’s been a grind.
On offense: Just weren’t winning battles, not playing enough in their end, and when we did, we weren’t heavy and hard enough. The thing that disappointed me the most, we talked about it before the game: they’re a high-transition team. Our game plan was to try not to let anyone get behind us. We wanted to pull our third and fourth out a little more, our defense to be a little closer, and play between the dots. They stretched us out all night, and exactly what we didn’t want to happen, happened. They’re a rush team, and we didn’t make them defend enough. If you’re playing defense the whole game, you get tired out and you don’t have enough juice for offense.
On shots: We did a terrible job of it. Our forwards didn’t collapse tight enough. Again, I think we lost battles all over the ice, even in the D-zone. I thought that we didn’t have good sticks, even in the neutral zone. We didn’t pop pucks off of Vegas, there just wasn’t anything I could really say positive about our game tonight. The only thing I’d say is we found a way to keep it a one-goal game for a long time, and that’s an opportunity on the road no matter how you’re playing. You could come up with 10 good minutes and find a way to win, but we couldn’t muster anything up tonight.
On Hill’s progress: From all plans, he’s supposed to practice with us on Thursday, full practice. Obviously, we need him back. Reims has played a ton and now is hurt, and it’s time for Hiller to step up if he’s physically able to.
On Sawchenko stepping in: I thought he came in and battled. I thought he made a couple of saves. It was such an unfair situation for him, really, because we weren’t producing anything offensively and were spending a lot of time in our end. Every time he’s been called upon this year, he’s done his job.
On the younger players: A lot of our big guys played a ton of minutes this last past week, last 10 days, and I could see the effects of that tonight. That’s just the reality of it. I don’t think there are excuses for that at this time of year. You find ways and you claw and you battle, you simplify your game, but we just couldn’t seem to do it. I don’t think it was a lack of effort, I think there was just no juice in the tank. We couldn’t get enough offensively, we never had a power play. We just really didn’t get a chance to get much going.
On his absence: My daughter, Olive, was in the hospital again. On Saturday, we had another emergency with her, so she was admitted and we were in there for a couple of days. She’s doing well now, she’s back at home, which is great. She was taken very good care of at the hospital and our doctors helped out a lot. I owe them a lot of credit, they’re great people. We had a couple of scares with her, and obviously things are a little sensitive, so I needed a couple of days to take care of my family and my daughter, so I was able to get back for tonight.
On Vegas’ game: Not good enough, obviously not nearly good enough. I just think that they played really tight in their end, we didn’t win enough battles in their end to create any zone time. Really, we didn’t take away the game plan that they’ve been doing for years here, which is off the rush. We’re letting guys get behind us, we’re letting stretch passes to guys that were wide open and not being above them and on top of them. That’s on us. We know the game plan, the game plan was set in stone. Obviously, the game plan against these guys is to try to take away the rush, and they’re very good on it and they stretch guys behind you. For whatever reason, we just didn’t want to do that.
On Reimer: Obviously, losing two goalies is not ideal, so that’s not the best thing for us, but I thought Sawzy did a great job. He came in, he looked confident and good for him. I think when you get an opportunity to find a job in the NHL, you should take advantage of it. Hopefully he gets another look because it looks like he’s prepared to play.
On how the Sharks played: I just think it’s disappointing that we didn’t take away — or try to take away, really — what they were good at. I think if we just play the game plan we were given in terms of trying to stay above them in the neutral zone and take away those bounce-back passes and jam them up in the neutral zone as much as possible, we wouldn’t be giving up breakaways and 2-on-1s and 3-on-2s. We just didn’t execute. We kept the game pretty close, but I thought our goalies did well. They were a little unlucky, but ultimately it was our fault for really not executing what we were supposed to do.
On playing against Vegas: It’s always cool to play here. I was here when [Patrick Marleau] broke the record last year, so I kind of saw that atmosphere. Just to be at ice-level, it was a special building. I think these guys do it the right way, it’s a whole production out there, it’s entertainment, it was fun out there.
On how he found out: I kind of saw the end of the first, and then Reims just kind of came up to me and said “Hey, just a heads-up, you might be going in” type of thing. Then Nabby came in, just kind of said briefly that I was going in and the rest of intermission, I just went out there and tried to prepare the best I could. Kind of like last time, it just happened so quickly, I just got out there and started playing.
On coming back: Obviously, it’s the first game in a while, I’m sure you guys have the days in between much better than I do, but I felt good. I tried to keep it simple, there are a few things I’d like to clean up, but at the end of the day, if you’re not playing in such a long time, it’s something that I’m proud of, and something I’m looking to build off of.
On the locker room: Yeah, there were a few guys. I’ll speak on Reims here quickly. He’s the ultimate pro, I saw it these last couple of weeks here. How he takes care of his body, how he handles himself away from the rink, how he handles himself on the ice. He’s the ultimate pro, and he’s been a great mentor to me, just to kind of see him. He kinda just said, “Go out there, have fun,” type of thing.
Then obviously, Cooch came up to me, Burnzie came up to me, Tommy, all the leaders on this team. I think the leadership in this team is unbelievable, something I’ve never seen before. It was a good, cool moment.
On staying prepared: I think you kind of take it day by day, just like I’ve done all year. You can’t look too far ahead. You would have told me in October that I’d be playing in January in the NHL, I would have laughed. You never know what can happen. At the end of the day, you just kinda gotta be ready for your opportunity, because you never know when it might come. Walking into the rink today, I didn’t expect to play, but at the end of the day, when your number’s called, you gotta go out there, you gotta do your job. This team’s in a playoff push here, and every point is crucial.
On approaching the future schedule: I think you just take it day by day. I said this last time I was talking to you guys after that Pittsburgh game, ultimately, this is the pinnacle, and you want to do whatever you can to stay here. I’m gonna be prepared. This is what we play, this is why we train so hard in the summertime. This is where you wanna be, right? So, like I said, just take it day by day and we’ll see what happens here.
*Lightly edited for clarity.