Winning Play: History against Sharks as losses mount
When a team is struggling, the players always talk about details.
Clearly, the San Jose Sharks, in the midst of a seven-game losing streak, are lacking in details at the moment.
There’s Joakim Ryan (47) and Tim Heed (72) defending the same man, Brandon Saad (20), leaving Jonathan Toews (19) by himself.
#SJSharks can't clear the zone and goes down 3-0 pic.twitter.com/fnd5VY7WLx— Teal Town USA (@TealTownUSA) March 29, 2019
There’s Brent Burns (88) getting beat by Dylan Strome (17), then Lukas Radil (52) and Tomas Hertl (48) are slow to react to 40-goal scorer Alex DeBrincat’s (12) appearance in the slot.
There’s Gustav Nyquist (14) leaving the zone to look for offense before the Sharks have established clear possession, leaving Dominik Kahun (24) alone in front.
More stellar #SJSharks team D. pic.twitter.com/C6FZ3JD5Cu— Teal Town USA (@TealTownUSA) March 29, 2019
To some degree, details come and go over the course of a season, with the better teams being more consistent with these details. Nobody’s perfect.
But no matter what, coaches always stress hard work. And on more than a couple occasions during last night’s 5-4 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, the Sharks’ work ethic could be put in question.
Labanc has talked about wanting to be trusted in key situations. This won't engender trust: #Blackhawks 4-on-2, Sorensen tracks back to catch up, but Labanc is far behind pic.twitter.com/0rCW9cTCc5— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) March 29, 2019
Whether it be fatigue or lack of focus — maybe Kevin Labanc (62) thought everybody was covered — it’s a Blackhawks 4-on-3 with Labanc a bit behind. After the Sharks failed to clear here, Toews would give Chicago a 3-0 lead.
Evander Kane (9) gamely tried to keep the puck in by batting it down, but when it got past him, perhaps he took his mind off the play. Regardless, a hard-charging Justin Braun (61) was whistled down for an offside because Kane didn’t get back onside.
Down a goal with three minutes to go, San Jose had to take a neutral zone faceoff instead of rolling lines and having the opportunity to establish their cycle.
By most accounts, Labanc and Kane enjoyed solid contests. Sharks TV color commentator Bret Hedican lauded Labanc’s game, while Kane was double-shifted in the final frame. And of course, it’s impossible to say for sure if the aforementioned plays were a lack of effort or focus or something else.
But I guess, when even your best players are possibly taking plays off, that explains a seven-game losing streak.
If you were to guess that teams who suffer seven-game losing streaks don’t often win the Stanley Cup, you’d guess right.
The Cup has been awarded 99 times, and just two teams, the 1967 Toronto Maple Leafs (10) and 1921 Ottawa Senators (7), have overcome a seven-games-or-worse losing streak to win it all.
Speaking of six-game losing streaks, only the 2008 Detroit Red Wings and 1986 Montreal Canadiens endured that in their title run.
A regular season losing streak of five games or less seems to be more the norm for your typical Stanley Cup champion. So the Sharks have to defy some history here.
Keeping in mind that losses have become more frequent after the abolishment of the tie during the 2005-06 season, here’s a complete list of Stanley Cup winners and their longest regular season losing streaks: