The Morning After: Defensive miscues burn Sharks
A couple of ill-timed changes and poor defensive plays cost the Sharks a point against the Blackhawks.
Sunday's overtime defeat to the Chicago Blackhawks at least comes with a silver lining — the Sharks get a point out of a game they seemed sure to lose when Joel Ward and Melker Karlsson were held out of the lineup. The Blackhawks skated without Marian Hossa and were playing their second game in as many nights, but the Sharks, already depleted by injuries, skated with 11 forwards and truthfully only six defenders (despite dressing seven).
The Sharks played evenly against one of the top teams in the NHL, but a couple of ill-timed changes kept them from snagging two points int he windy city. Let's start by looking at the game-winner by Jonathan Toews. (It should be noted that just a minute before, the Blackhawks had a 2-on-1 with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews that they failed to convert on, so, silver linings and all that)
A lot of the blame here can be laid at the skates of Justin Braun, who failed to close down Duncan Keith and then showed little to no interest in actually rejoining the play after allowing a killer pass to be made. Also happening on the play is the exit of Tomas Hertl, who's making a go for the bench despite the Sharks not having possession of the puck while the puck is still in the neutral zone. Had he stayed home and anticipated Keith's pass, perhaps the Sharks stop the rush at the blue line and the game ends a bit later.
While we're on the subject of questionable defensive play, god in heaven only knows what Paul Martin was trying to do on Artem Anisimov's game-opening tally.
This play won't be going on Martin's highlight reel. He didn't get all he wanted to get on this pass and as a result it just sort of floats right to the stick of Anisimov who is all too happy to bury it.
The second goal was a bit of a softy on Martin Jones, as Patrick Kane threw the puck up under his arm from in close. The game-tying tally came after a poor Brent Burns play followed by a great Burns play followed by a pretty bad Burns play. The goal highlight only shows the last play, but I promise the other two happened.
So the Sharks got burned on a few poor defensive plays and a bad change. That'll do it against a very good team, particularly when playing with a short bench.
Also worth nothing is that with Barclay Goodrow sent down just this morning, Peter DeBoer and the Sharks must not have anticipated Karlsson wouldn't be good to go for Sunday's game. Hopefully the surprise injury is nothing major as the Sharks can't really afford to lose anyone else. The road trip just gets tougher as San Jose wraps things up against the Kings on Tuesday. Hooray.