PHOENIX In the Sharks last five losses, the team has poured on 178 shots on goal, an average of 35.6 per game. Thats even higher than their already league-leading average of 34.5 per game.
All of that frozen rubber at the net has resulted in just seven goals, though, an average of one for every 28.4 shots (and just 1.40 goals per game). Goaltenders Ryan Miller, Jaroslav Halak, Devan Dubnyk, Kari Lehtonen and Mike Smith have all recorded W's against a sinking Sharks club, and have looked good while doing so.
It begs the question are the Sharks running into hot goaltenders, or are they making these goaltenders look good with easy shots from the perimeter?
I asked Ryane Clowe and Todd McLellan that very question after the teams 3-0 defeat to the Coyotes on Saturday night at Jobing.com Arena.
Their answers were a bit different.
Im not going to sit here and tell you were going to make them look good because thats not what our intent is, McLellan said. Are we going to the net? I think we are. We look at it every game, and look at the chances.
Clowe thinks the Sharks could do a better job of making things more difficult on the other teams netminder, by, well, getting to the net.
Smith obviously played well, and Lehtonen played well last game, and the Edmonton goalie played well. I think you give them credit, but theres a pattern a little bit, Clowe said. Either weve just got to bear down, or I still think we can get to the net a little bit more with traffic.
We had some good chances tonight that were around the net from bad angle shots, and thats when we got a couple bad bounces around there and we could have scored. They are the shots you need to take. I still think we can be a little harderstronger, net-front. Those guys played well, those goalies lately.
In contrast, the Coyotes did a much better job that the Sharks of screening the goaltender. On their first two markers in the second period, there were a number of bodies in front of Antti Niemi, who was left scrambling moments before the Coyotes put it behind him. He gave up the rebounds, sure, but it's harder for a goaltender to pick up the puck when he's trying to navigate through traffic.
In the end, it wouldnt have made a difference, as San Jose was once again scuffling offensively.
You cant blame Nemo when you dont give him any help, Clowe said.