The Morning After: Making sense of a wild loss
Alex Stalock was not very good, but Logan Couture was great!
It would be all too easy to dwell on Alex Stalock's putrid performance against the Calgary Flames on Thursday night, but as Jim Harbaugh would say, that ground has been plowed as much as it's going to be plowed. He's not an NHL goaltender and it's time for the Sharks to find somebody else to wear the baseball cap while Martin Jones does his thing.
Okay? Okay. So what about the rest of the Sharks absolutely bonkers 6-5 loss to the Calgary Flames? After falling behind 4-1 in the first period, the Sharks scored four-straight goals to take a 5-4 lead before eventually falling in a shootout to what might not even end up being the best team in Alberta this season. San Jose's power play can take plenty of credit for that, as can the Flames' complete lack of discipline.
San Jose went 3-for-9 on the power play, which is a great percentage, but misleading. The Sharks could have easily scored more on extended 5-on-3 looks and Logan Couture was absolutely robbed by Jonas Hiller in the dying minutes of regulation. Right. Where to start with that? Couture played an excellent game, tallying four points (tied with 96 other Sharks for eighth all time in points per game) and finding himself right in the middle of just about all the action on the ice.
Couture had a goal, three assists and eight shots on goal while posting a corsi-for percentage of 84.9. Yeah, that's pretty spectacular. He also hit the post with what, at the time, appeared to be his second goal of the game, and missed the net with the game on the line, Couture once again showed what an invaluable part of the team he is. The Sharks sorely missed him while he was injured and his return, and recent resurgence, are a big part of the reason San Jose finds itself second in the Pacific.
Now about Hiller. Karri Ramo was good-but-not-great before getting injured and leaving with just a few minutes to play in the third period. From there, Hiller was nearly perfect. The only blemish on the former Duck was the peach of a goal scored by Couture in the shootout. Other than that, Hiller stopped everything and everyone who dared to put a puck on net for San Jose. His reputation as a Shark-killer only grew after Thursday night's performance.
And then there was the all of a sudden much maligned Brent Burns. He tallied two assists, took 10 shots on goal and had the best corsi differential of any skater wearing teal. He had a few absolutely incredible shots on goal that just couldn't find the back of the net.
So in the end, the Sharks played an absolutely phenomenal game that should have given them two points. San Jose was saddled with a loser point, of course, but there's plenty of positives to take from a great Sharks performance against a team that absolutely warranted it. In recent years it's seemed liked San Jose has taken weak opponents lightly, but this season the Sharks have done what they needed to do against the bottom-feeders in the league. San Jose didn't get two points, but the squad played the way we've come to expect.
For now, with a playoff spot very likely earned, I'll take it.