Sharks and playoffs? Sorry, the math’s not adding up

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Sharks and playoffs? Sorry, the math’s not adding up

Post by admin » Tue Dec 24, 2019 7:46 am

The math just doesn’t add up for the Sharks.

Over the last four seasons, the average point total for the team that has finished in the second wild card spot in the Western Conference is 91.5. It’s been as low as 87 in 2016 with Minnesota, and as high as 95 in 2018 with Colorado.

To get to 92 points, the Sharks, at 16-20-2 after Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, will need 58 points in the next 44 games. Roughly 6.5 points for every five games they play.

There’s been next to no evidence this month, and for much of the season, that this Sharks team — as currently constructed — is capable of such a run. They entered Monday, when they began a desperately needed four-day break, nine points out of a playoff spot and tied for 13th place in the Western Conference.

The Sharks’ next game is Friday at home against the Los Angeles Kings, followed by a date with the Philadelphia Flyers. Then comes a five-game road trip with games against Detroit, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Washington and St. Louis.

If it’s going to happen, it has to start now.

“Guys are going their separate ways to see families,” Sharks captain Logan Couture said. “But everyone’s got to take a look in the mirror and decide. What do you want to bring for the second half of the year right now? What do you want to accomplish as a hockey player in the NHL this year.

“A lot of guys haven’t had good years, a lot of guys have been letdowns from last year. There’s a lot of improvement. Some soul-searching in this room. Everyone needs to be better.”

Takeaways from Sunday.

1. Pop-gun offense: Give Malcolm Subban credit. He made 37 saves for the Golden Knights, 11 of which came on the penalty kill as the Sharks went 0 for 3 on the power play.

But this is hardly a one night issue. For the eighth time in 10 games, the Sharks were held to two goals or less. They are 0-7-1 in those games.

As we reach the halfway point of the season, the production of several Sharks veteran forwards and the offensive-minded defensemen is down.

Most notably, Timo Meier, who was demoted to the fourth line late in Sunday’s game, has 11 goals and 22 points, a year after he had 30 goals and 66 points. Brent Burns had three points in two games over the weekend, but has 27 points after 38 games. He led all NHL defensemen with 83 points last season.

Erik Karlsson had five shots on goal Sunday but was held off the scoresheet and once again struggled in his own end. He has 27 points so far, a year after he had 45 points in just 53 games.

“We go as far as he goes,” Sharks associate coach Roy Sommer said of Karlsson. “He’s kind of the catalyst back there. It’s unfortunate. He had some bad breaks. It seems like when there is a breakdown, it seems to go in the net when he’s on the ice.

“You can’t blame it all on him. We’re all in it together. He’s a big part. He plays a lot of minutes, him and (Burns) play a lot of minutes. When things go bad, (people) are going to look to blame him and I don’t know if it’s all his fault. It’s a team effort.”

2. Defensive issues: Naturalstattrick.com listed the Sharks as having allowed 17 high danger scoring chances at even strength Sunday, including 14 in the final two periods.

They gave up eight to the Blues on Saturday and five to the Coyotes on Tuesday.

If it wasn’t for some heroic moments from Aaron Dell, who made 34 saves, the score could have gotten well out of hand.

All three of the goals Vegas scored Sunday were at even strength, as the Sharks have allowed a league-worst 101 5-on-5 goals in 38 games. They allowed 186 5-on-5 goals last season.

“I think we’ve got the players to win hockey games in this league, but I don’t think we’re playing the right way to win hockey games in this league,” Couture said. “There’s a massive difference between that.

“We’ve got, in my mind, the personnel. I don’t think that the personnel has decided that we’ve got to play a certain way to win hockey games.”

3. Dell raises his value: If the Sharks’ slide continues and general manager Doug Wilson reaches a point in February where he wants to start trading players for picks or prospects before the deadline, Dell might fetch a nice return if he keeps playing well. Dell is slated to become a UFA on July 1.

In his last eight games, Dell is now 2-3-1 with a respectable .912 save percentage and 2.68 goals against average.

“We’ve had spurts all year of greatness and I think we just need to bring it every night,” Dell said when asked why he has faith the Sharks can turn their season around. “We’ve shown that we can do it. We just have to do it more consistently.”

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