Five games in the NHL season and San Jose Sharks coach Bob Boughner is still looking for a little more consistency from some of his top offensive stars.
In Sunday’s game with the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center, the players from the Sharks’ three best strikers were goalless six times in a row and one extra time.
The Sharks power play, which got off to such a hot start after three games, has now missed ten direct chances.
The Sharks discovered an effective fourth line when Matt Nieto and Marcus Sorensen scored in consecutive games. Patrick Marleau supported Nieto’s goal in the 4-1 loss on Friday.
But if the Sharks (2-3-0) hope to end their season opener road trip on a positive note with eight games, their big guns have to give a little more punch. After Sunday, the Sharks will travel to Colorado to play the equally tough Avalanche on Tuesday and Thursday.
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« I think the difference is that our power play has to bring us one at crucial times, » said Sharks coach Bob Boughner on Friday. « Minnesota is a pretty good penalty team, but we didn’t create a lot of emotion with our power play. Especially when we had chances, we didn’t take our chances.
“We need more of the big ones. We scored another goal from Matt Nieto on this fourth line and we need our best players to be our best players. »
At the start of the season, the Sharks were mostly concerned about their puck management and defense as they allowed 10 5v5 goals in their first three games.
Now the pendulum has turned in the other direction: You are playing a tighter defense, but do not offer enough chances for high dangers.
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Perhaps in the first few days of the season teams will start playing with more structure after playing more open hockey. That would surely explain why it was so difficult for the Sharks to get a lot of high quality looks on Friday.
According to naturalstattrick.com, the Sharks only created four high risk chances on Friday, corresponding to their 2-1 win over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday.
« We have to have the ability to play low, try to play below the tops of the circles, and obviously still use that low-high game, » said Boughner. “I thought we played well enough to win. But of course we need more offense than just a target. I thought our power play at crucial times in the game could have made a difference. »
ST PAUL, MN – JANUARY 22: Marcus Sorensen # 20 of the San Jose Sharks passes the puck during the first period against the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center on January 22, 2021 in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Harrison Barden / Getty Images)
The Sharks have taken five of their first eleven power play chances in their first three games. But after going 7-0 on Wednesday, they went 0-3 on Friday. The Sharks got seven shots in the net, but the Wild did a good job of getting on the shooting lanes too.
« We just have to keep it simple, get a few more pucks, » said Sharks winger Timo Meier, who has so far been saved without a point in four of five games. “Web presence is important. Often we move the puck well, but we are not really dangerous in front of the net. We just have to fight to get one ugly one that you know and that gives us confidence. »
FIXED START: The Sharks got their second straight start from one of their goalkeepers on Friday when Devan Dubnyk returned to St. Paul to make 25 saves. Martin Jones stopped 22 of 23 shots on Wednesday.
While we expect Jones to be back in the net for the Sharks on Sunday, Dubnyk’s performance could mean he’ll get a chance to start regularly for some time. The Sharks will play 13 games over the next 28 days.
Dubnyk started for the second time this season after being in St. Louis on Monday due to the Sharks’ 5-4 defeat.
« I probably felt better in the game (on Monday), to be honest, just with all the weirdness of going back to Minnesota, » said Dubnyk. « I’ve been around a long time and played a lot. So understand that you have to be sharp, work on things on your days off and make sure you work on the games.
« Don’t think about wins and losses, just be astute, make sure you stop the pucks you should and give the guys a chance to win, and at some point they will. (Jones) did Played great so far and I think we must both keep working to give each other a really good chance every day.
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GAMBRELL’S GAME: Dylan Gambrell played 15 minutes on Friday and spent most of the third period in line with Meier and Evander Kane. From the standpoint of ownership, this was the best trio of sharks.
Over the years we’ve seen Gambrell’s game come and go at times. But right now he’s competitive and seems to give Boughner the kind of consistency he’s looking for.
It would be pretty much to see Gambrell continue to improve and become the center of the second line of sharks. If he does, then maybe Tomas Hertl could make it to the top with Logan Couture, which could go a long way in healing the offense. Just a thought.