Have Sharks reached their breaking point?

Boyle: 'The not scoring goals has gotten to me'

Have Sharks reached their breaking point?
March 8, 2013, 3:30 pm
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Since scoring 23 goals through the first five games, the Sharks have just 24 in the last 17 games. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

SAN JOSE – Dan Boyle was a man of few words after the Sharks’ 4-1 loss in Calgary on Wednesday, and among those he did utter, several were of the NSFW variety.

He chuckled a bit on Friday after practice, when it was suggested he was a tad upset.

“Yeah, very,” Boyle said.

[RELATED: Boyle offers blunt assessment of 4-1 loss]

Specifically, Boyle wasn’t pleased with the Sharks’ 12th straight game in which they’ve failed to score more than two goals in regulation. San Jose has plummeted to 29th in the league in scoring with just 2.14 goals per game. Only the Nashville Predators are worse (1.96).

“That game in particular was pretty ugly, I think. Obviously, the not scoring goals has gotten to me, and it’s getting to a lot of guys,” Boyle said.

“More importantly, it’s about winning games. If we’re winning games 2-1, all that stuff goes away. When you’re not winning games and you combine it with that, it was just kind of frustrating. On top of that, defensively, which we’ve been pretty good at all year, I thought that was one of our weakest efforts defensively.”

Todd McLellan agreed with that latter point by Boyle about the defense not being as buttoned up against Calgary as it has been most of the season. For just the fourth time in 22 games, the Sharks allowed four goals, and one of those was an empty-netter in the final minute. Two of the four have come in games against the Chicago Blackhawks, which is all that has to be said considering what Chicago is doing this season.

[RECAP: Flames 4, Sharks 1]

Thomas Greiss allowed two third-period goals in what was a 1-1 tie after two periods on Wednesday in Calgary. One of them should have been stopped, and another came on a bad turnover in the defensive zone when Douglas Murray misplayed a pass from Ryane Clowe.

“We started to cheat to try and score,” McLellan said. “We gave up outnumbered rushes, and got lazy in certain areas of the game where we haven’t been. That’s concerning for me, because, are the guys at that break point where they’re going to start doing that?

“We talked about it today, and reminded them that there are other ways to win games. We’ve done a good job at that, and we have to continue.”

What’s encouraging for the Sharks is that even with their scoring struggles, and with wins in just four of the last 15 games, they are right in the thick of the playoff race as they near the midway point of the season. Chicago and Anaheim have separated themselves from the bunch, but the Sharks still sit in playoff position in sixth place with 26 points (11-7-4). In the Pacific Division, the Sharks, Kings and Stars are all tied at 26 while Phoenix has 25.

Sure, the Sharks have some issues. But, so does just about every other team.

“That’s the positive, and the way we’ve got to look at it,” Boyle said. “As bad, or negative, or weird as things have gone this year, you look at the standings and we’re there. That’s the positive, and that’s how we’re going to try to look at it. We haven’t played our best hockey lately, and we’re in the middle of it. If we can turn it up here, we can get back to where we want to be, which is towards the top.”

That won’t happen without a significant uptick in goal production. Since scoring 23 goals through the first five games, the Sharks have just 24 in the last 17 games. (Read that one more time).

Boyle suggested on Wednesday that there is no single reason for the offensive drought. On Friday, he maintained that position, but added:

“The hunger and the drive to score, I want to see more of that. There are too many things that go into goal scoring. It’s not just the guy with the puck, it’s the guys without it.

“I think if you put in the work, on most nights, if you’re talented enough, you’re going to win some hockey games. Certainly in Calgary, maybe I wasn’t happy with what I saw. But, at the same time, I have to stay positive. I believe in this team. We’ve got to go out and earn it, and do it on the ice.”