Sharks Outworked in Columbus, Suffer Another Embarrassment
Yet again the Sharks found themselves searching for answers to questions not worth asking. Apologetically, captain Joe Thorton took the blame off his teammates shoulders, taking responsibility for the 4-0 loss. Apparently, Todd McLellan agreed, benching him for the majority of the third. Thornton only played 2:21 of ice time in that period, woefully short of his normal TOI. Some of that maybe cover for resting the top players when the game was well out of hand. Speaking of which, let's take a look at how quickly this game was basically over.
The Sharks anemia couldn't be pinned all on Thornton though, as the Sharks failed in virtually every facet of the game tonight. Poor breakout decisions cost them time and again. And when the Sharks finally successfully broke out of their end, it would be poor zone entry decisions creating high turnovers, leading to much of the apparent difference in shots on goal tonight. Defensive zone coverage was pitiful as it was on Sunday against Dallas.
The Sharks didn't benefit from any bounces tonight, but the truly concerning thing was how badly they played at even-strength, surrendering all 4 goals at this game state. Despite spending a huge amount of time down by 2+ (>35min TOI) the Sharks barely edged the Jackets in Corsi tonight, finishing +2. Truthfully, with that amount of time, the Sharks should have been controlling play easily. Perhaps some of that was McLellan throwing in the towel, but still disheartening to see.
The lone bright spot was Demers, who ended the night a palpable -1, yet +9 in Corsi, He started the night with Stuart, but was eventually paired with Vlasic, which proved to be effective. This of course is taken with a grain of salt, as the game was essentially out of hand by that point (~40min mark).
Similarily, Marleau-Couture-Wingels played a slightly better game than they have previously. Couture and Wingels tied for team lead of +0, and seemed to have a bit more fight in their game than the rest of the team. There's a lot of talent on that line, especially the use of their sticks on the forecheck, as well as moving the puck effectively through the neutral zone. Unfortunately tonight, there just wasn't much support elsewhere.
Lastly, I wouldn't read much into Niemi being pulled, I couldn't fault him for any of the goals scored on him tonight. Realistically, he needs the rest anyway. Besides, as Neutral commented last game recap. It wouldn't be so bad to avoid LA in the first round.
FTF Three Starts
1st Star: Bobrovsky
2nd Star: Gaborik
3rd Star: Couture