The path to 34-25-10, and eighth place in the West

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The path to 34-25-10, and eighth place in the West

It is the question of questions amongst Sharks faithful: "How exactly did we get here?"

The Tipping Point: San Jose was relatively comfortable, both in their play and their standing through the month of January, which saw them sport a 9-3-2 record. It was a Feb. 4 game in Phoenix where the troubles began appearing in the results.

Coincidentally, this one-game roadie was also the Sharks' annual fathers trip, where players bring their dads on the team plane and to the games. Since then, the team has spiraled to a 5-12-3 record. You might recall last year's fathers trip was also a turning point in San Jose's season...only in the opposite direction. They went 25-6-4 to finish off their regular season campaign after getting some inspiration from the dads.

"Chasing their game": That's how head coach Todd McLellan put it after returning from the season-long nine-game road trip in February. He described trying to fix one part of their game, only to find another began showing troubles. For example, after addressing and correcting defensive miscues, the team would have issues scoring goals. Or after getting the power play back on track, the penalty kill would fail the team. It's like the old cartoon reference: you plug one leak just to find another spring up before your eyes.

On a basic level, San Jose has continued to "chase their game" during this rut. In the beginning of February, the Sharks had no problem scoring the puck, but could not hold enough teams below that all-important reference point of three markers. Then, the challenge became goaltending, where starter Antti Niemi was uncharacteristically pulled in two of three starts. Then Niemi found his groove again...only to face his own team in a scoring slump. The Sharks have just 12 tallies in the last eight games. Simply put, San Jose has endured a multitude of challenges with their game, not just a singular one.

Lack of traction: The best metaphor I can make of the Sharks is this: A tire stuck in the mud. The wheels are spinning awfully hard at times, but the car is not going anywhere. In fact, sometimes it's making the hole deeper. There is a lack of traction right now for San Jose to get themselves out of the dirty stuff and moving forward with their season. As is the case with any streak, the Sharks have trouble getting consistent positive results. It's been win one, lose one. Win one, lose four. Win one, lose two. Win one, lose five. And so on.

Here are some facts that are difficult to swallow:

- The Sharks have not won back to back games in six weeks (Jan. 31, Feb. 2)
- The Sharks have not won back to back games on the road in more than two months (Jan 12, 14)
- The Sharks have not won by a multiple goal margin in more than four weeks (Feb. 13, 5-3 vs. WAS)
Follow Brodie in real-time on Twitter: @BrodieBrazilCSN

Instant Replay: Sharks picked apart by Predators, losing streak continues

Instant Replay: Sharks picked apart by Predators, losing streak continues

BOX SCORE

NASHVILLE – The Sharks’ road trip somehow got worse, before mercifully coming to an end on Saturday in Nashville.
 
For the second time in two nights, the Sharks were handled with ease by their opponent as Nashville skated to a 7-2 win at Bridgestone Arena. San Jose lost its sixth straight, all in regulation, including all four games on its road trip.
 
Colton Sissons and James Neal each had two goals to lead Nashville.
 
The Sharks have been outscored 13-3 in their last two games, including Friday night’s disastrous 6-1 defeat to lowly Dallas. The last time San Jose lost all of its games in regulation on a road trip of at least four games was March 19-29, 1993 (0-6-0).
 
The Sharks lost center Logan Couture late in the second period, when he was hit squarely in the mouth with a deflected puck and did not return, appearing to loose at least one tooth on the play. Couture immediately charged towards the dressing room after he was struck.
 
Trailing 2-0 to start the second period, Patrick Marleau cut the lead in half on the power play, when he redirected a Brent Burns pass at 4:24.
 
Nashville responded right away, though, when Marcus Sorensen was caught high-sticking P.K. Subban. Neal capped off a pretty passing play with his third goal in as many games against the Sharks this season, whipping it in from the circle just 24 seconds after Marleau’s score.
 
Subban upped the Preds’ lead to 4-1, when Martin Jones lost sight of the puck and the Nashville defenseman whizzed it just inside the post on a shot from the wall at 14:39.
 
Justin Braun brought the Sharks back to within 4-2 with his first goal in 20 games at 16:19 of the second period, but San Jose didn’t get any momentum from the tally. Sissons and Neal each got their second of the night in the final frame, including Neal’s on the power play while Micheal Haley was serving a match penalty.
 
Viktor Arvidsson’s shorthanded goal at 19:22 capped the scoring, and another embarrassing night for San Jose.
 
The Preds scored the only two goals of the first period. At 4:14, Sissons parked in front of the net and whacked in a pass from Colin Wilson, who outmuscled Tomas Hertl on a loose puck behind the net.
 
Cody McLeod made it 2-0. After Roman Josi walked Burns just inside the blue line, the defenseman's shot hit the crossbar and McLeod was in front to poke it over the line at 15:19.
 
The Predators improved to 6-1-0 in their last seven, and took over third place in the Central Division ahead of St. Louis.
 
The Sharks are just 1-5-0 in their last six regular season games in Nashville, with the lone win coming in a shootout. Saturday was their only visit of the season.
 
Special teams 
 
The Sharks went 1-for-3 on the power play, while Nashville was 2-for-4. Perhaps the only good news for San Jose lately is its power play could be coming out of its season-long slump, going 4-for-17 over the last seven games.
 
Marleau has seven power play goals this season.
 
Haley was kicked out of the game for attempting to injure Calle Jarnkrok in the third period.
 
In goal
 
Jones lost for the fourth time in his last five decisions, allowing seven goals on 34 shots, and is just 1-4-2 in his career in the regular season against the Predators.
 
Pekka Rinne made 26 saves, winning his fourth straight start while allowing just five total goals over that span. He’s 11-6-4 career against the Sharks.
 
Lineup
 
Marc-Edouard Vlasic was scratched due to illness, although he did not appear to be walking right after Friday’s game in Dallas when he took just one shift in the third period. San Jose is 2-4-1 when its top defensive defenseman doesn’t dress.
 
Chris Tierney was also out, and is day-to-day with an upper body injury. Timo Meier returned to the lineup after he was a healthy scratch on Friday.
 
Joe Pavelski played in his 800th career game.
 
Up next
 
The Sharks return home to host the Rangers on Tuesday. It’s their first meeting since New York’s 7-4 win on Oct. 17 at Madison Square Garden in the third game of the season.

Sharks' Vlasic out of the lineup again

Sharks' Vlasic out of the lineup again

NASHVILLE – Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic is out of the lineup again.

The defenseman, who didn’t play on Tuesday in Minnesota with the flu and took just one shift in the third period on Friday in Dallas, was scratched for Saturday’s road trip finale against the Predators. The team stated Saturday’s absence was due to his being sick, although it should be noted he was spotted leaving the dressing room on Friday in Dallas not walking completely right.

The Sharks are 2-3-1 in games Vlasic missed this season entering Saturday night. 

Chris Tierney was also scratched, and is day-to-day with an upper body injury. Is was just the second game he has missed this season.

Dylan DeMelo drew into the lineup for Vlasic, while Timo Meier got back in on the fourth line with Micheal Haley and Marcus Sorensen.

Melker Karlsson (lower body) remains out.