Sharks Gameday: Back To The Grindstone
|13-13-7, 33 points||19-8-7, 45 points |
|15th in Western Conference ||4th in Western Conference |
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As was mentioned in "Banging The Drums, The Doldrums", this current five game slide San Jose has gone through really isn't a direct reflection of the defense-- the most goals they've given up in one game during regulation has been four. You have Jay Leach's miscommunication against Dallas, the mental meltdown at the end of the game against St. Louis, and an all around porous effort against Los Angeles, but other than that the mistakes have been limited in number, or at least limited in the number of times they have ended up in the back of the net.
What has been an issue, however, is secondary scoring. During last year's postseason series against the Anaheim Ducks, San Jose's output was severely lacking-- three goals combined from the bottom nine forwards. Half a goal per game from 3/4th of your forward group is going to bury you, especially if your goaltender is turning in a sub-.900 save percentage.
At any rate, what we have here is the boxcar stats for the forwards during this five game skid. Pretty basic stuff-- goals, assists, and points. The players are paired by lines and listed by jersey numbers; the totals to the right signify how many points they've scored between them.
Forwards Goal Scoring
| 12, 15, 19 ||15||4||6||10 |
| 8, 16, 29 ||15||3||3||6 |
| Remaining ||30||1 ||1 ||2|
Out of that bottom six group, Manny Malhotra is the only one to notch a point-- not surprisingly, he's also the only one who has seen top six minutes during that time span (before being bumped down by the promotion of Devin Setoguchi).
The question, of course, is whether or not there is some help on the horizon in this area. Jamie McGinn (bonjour mon ami!) has looked respectable in the last five games, but hasn't been able to cash in on his limited opportunities. Malhotra got the job done with a big goal against Los Angeles and has looked fine. Torrey Mitchell has been getting bodied off the puck a lot down low, and seemingly lost a good chunk of his skating ability-- we mentioned before that patience is going to be the name of the game with him, but it's getting to the point where things need to be improving.
Beyond those three, can we really expect a whole lot more in the goal scoring department than what Jed Ortmeyer and Scott Nichol have given us? Ortmeyer's one goal away from reaching his career high, and Nichol's probably hit more twine when blocking shots*. It's not a criticism of their lack of touch around the pipes, just acknowledging that when we're talking about secondary scoring coming through we're talking about McGinn and Malhotra primarily, with Torrey Mitchell tagging along.
*It's hard to make that sentence work without it turning into a modern day massacre (solid band name), but the idea here is that he blocks a shot, and that shot deflects into the netting behind the goal. It kind of sounds stupid when I have to explain it.
So with all of the recent trouble San Jose has had in this department, I think now is the perfect time to utilize the Worcester Shuttle. I'm not talking about it's creepy uncle the Worcester Salary Shuffle, I'm talking about the honest and pure Worcester "I Run Off Results" Shuttle. Logan Couture has been tearing it up in the AHL this season and leads the team in goals. Benn Ferriero had a two goal game against Manchester earlier this month and has eight points in ten games. Give the team a little kick in the pants and bring in some forwards who a) have been up here for an extended period of time this season b) are familiar with their role on this team and c) will provide a scoring threat.
The only potential issue I see with this is that Jody Shelley and Brad Staubitz are both nearing return. That's two roster spots that are going to be filled pretty soon, and even with Frazer McLaren's impending demotion (not based off his play, mind), the salary cap is going to have it's hand in this decision as it has all season long. It's a shame really, and I'm sure McLellan hasn't been fond of losing practice days with guys like McGinn over the course of this year.
At any rate, I'm all for calling up Roy Sommer to see what's hot on the shelf right now; manufacture some competition and get things back on track.
A man with nothing to lose is a dangerous man. Earl Sleek of BoC has nothing to lose. Therefore, Earl Sleek is a dangerous man.
Prediction: Sharks win 3-1. Goals by McGinn, Boyle, and Nichol City. We need to be able to boo a Duck mercilessly every time he touches the puck, and since Pronger isn't in town anymore, I think the honors slide to Perry. What say you?