SAN JOSE – There are games where the Sharks’ lack of offensive firepower isn’t an issue. Recent 2-1 wins over two of the best teams in the league, Chicago and Montreal, were impressive in that San Jose kept a pair of the league’s better offenses from getting more than a single score.
In other instances, though, that necessary goal from the team’s depth just hasn’t come. Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to Ottawa was one example. The Sharks got goals from Logan Couture and Brent Burns – no surprise there – while Joe Pavelski was all around the net, generating more scoring chances than any single player on the ice.
Again, though, the depth forwards and defensemen other than Burns never found the scoresheet.
And it’s becoming a real issue.
In fact, in the Sharks’ last 11 games in which they’ve gotten 25 goals total, 60 percent of them have come from just those three aforementioned players – Couture (7g), Burns (5g) and Pavelski (3g).
Also over that span, in which San Jose has gone 6-4-1, they’ve gotten no goals from Joe Thornton, Joonas Donskoi, Mikkel Boedker, Micheal Haley or Melker Karlsson; one goal apiece from Joel Ward and Tommy Wingels; and just one goal by a defenseman other than Burns (Dylan DeMelo). Of the 12 forwards that dressed against the Senators, eight of them had two or fewer goals.
The Sharks sit at 23rd in the NHL at 2.38 goals-per game. Sure, it’s just fine winning games by 2-1 final scores. But at some point, other guys are going to have to start putting the puck in the net if this team is truly going to contend for the Stanley Cup.
Couture – who himself got off to a slow start offensively – believes it’s going to come soon.
“Everyone wants to score,” Couture said after the Senators game. “It’s not about trying, it’s just the way that things are going right now. Pucks just aren’t going in for some guys, and, hey, I went through the same thing for awhile there where I wasn’t finding the back of the net.
“That’s the way that goal-scoring works in the NHL, is you go through streaks where you’re hot and when you’re cold. Some guys are going to get hot soon. It’s going to happen.”
For his part, coach Pete DeBoer also believes the offense will pick up shortly. In the Senators game, the coaching staff internally tracked the scoring chances as 22 for the Sharks and just eight for Ottawa.
When that happens, “you should win, and you should score more than two goals,” DeBoer said.
Without getting into specifics, DeBoer pointed to the “analytics of where we are in the league” as a reason not to panic. Perhaps he’s aware that the Sharks are sixth in the league in shot-attempt percentage (52.25), and first in the NHL in shot-attempt percentage in close games (55.67).
Still, those numbers don’t mean anything when the puck isn’t going in. So what’s missing?
“I just think finish. I think we’re doing a lot of things right,” DeBoer said.
“Obviously I’d love to see us score some more goals five-on-five, but we’re getting some chances,” Ward said. “I would think if we weren’t or if we were getting shelled then it would definitely be something to be concerned about. … We’ve had some good looks and some really quality chances. Things just haven’t fallen in five-on-five, but I think that will come around.”
SAN JOSE – David Schlemko’s right ankle injury isn’t expected to keep him out long term, but the defenseman’s status for the two Sharks games this weekend is in question.
San Jose faces Anaheim on Friday at Honda Center, and returns home on Saturday to host the Hurricanes.
“I would say doubtful for tomorrow, but getting better,” DeBoer said on Thursday.
Schlemko skated for the first time on Thursday at the Sharks’ practice facility since getting hurt in the Canadiens game last Friday. He returned in the third period after going down in the second, but quickly realized it was still too sore.
“It didn’t feel that bad once I came off and the x-rays were negative, so I thought I was fine to go [back in],” he said. “It started to hurt again late in the third, so I shut it down.
“The next morning when you wake up and all the adrenaline is gone, it obviously hurts a lot more. We got the MRI and everything looks like it should be pretty good. Nothing long-term. I don’t think [I’ll miss] anything past this weekend, at the most. Hopefully I can get in for one or maybe both this weekend.”
In 24 games, Schlemko has five assists, 44 shots on goal and a plus-two rating.
Dylan DeMelo would remain in the lineup if Schlemko can’t play against Anaheim. Mirco Mueller, who was called up on Wednesday, was reassigned to the Barracuda on Thursday morning.
The Sharks had yet to decide if anyone else would be recalled for the trip to Anaheim, according to DeBoer.
“We’re going to meet with [GM Doug Wilson] here right after and see what our numbers are,” DeBoer said.