Sharks' hearts and minds will decide playoff berth


Sharks' hearts and minds will decide playoff berth

There is no compelling mathematical argument to be made for the Sharks missing the playoffs. Theyre two back with nine to play, and have games in hand two more than Colorado, one more than Phoenix.

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But thats the worst possible thing to tell these mopes. That they have breathing room. Or that they just played well. Or that things are looking up.They only realize the true meaning of desperation and how to handle it when they have no place to go but out. They dont gear up until theyre pointed up a steep hill and the car stalls. They dont power up until the battery looks like its dead.Or maybe theyre feeling so desperate than putting the old police chokehold on their sticks trying so hard that they forget that effort without purpose is just aerobics. They run around like that vial of fire ants they were smuggling in their shorts has just broken and the wildlife is savaging their delicates.Either way, and only they know as individuals whether they care too little or dont care enough, the point is that they stink absolutely stink at this scrambling for a playoff thing.There is no other useful explanation for their last month and a half, where they rise up for teams they have always regarded as their equals but lay down against their traditional inferiors. They fancy themselves an elite team, and they emit results that make them look like the Winnipeg Jets.Of their eight wins since Feb. 1, six have come against playoff teams, and the goal differential in those wins (over Dallas, Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia, Nashville and Detroit) is 21-11.But of their 17 losses over that time, nine have come against non-playoff teams, and by that we mean teams that have no or almost no hope of making it. And the goal differential in those games (under Calgary, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Columbus, Minnesota, Buffalo, Edmonton, Calgary again and Anaheim) is 23-35.Combined, they are 6-8 against good teams, which isnt great. But they are 2-9 against bad ones. Let that marinate in your heads for a minute.Okay. Now throw up.Finished? Good. Times up.That is a screeching advertisement for short attention span. Or a basic misunderstanding of how to play desperate but smart hockey.If you had gotten properly piefaced on February 1 and figured out what games the Sharks should have won or lost by going through their schedule, you would have come up with a conservative estimate of 16-9. That would have put them at about 96 points now, give or take the odd overtime result, and that would have put them not tenth, but second, a stride ahead of Vancouver and within reach of St. Louis.In short, this isnt about math at all, but a measure of the hearts and minds within the room. The Sharks have either massively underachieved as players, or they dont know how not to be front-runners.The easy and stupid response is to blame head coach Todd McLellan for not reaching them, but this is a veteran team with seven years of regular season success that should not require the coach to remind them not to lay down to Anaheim at home.The second easy response is to accuse general manager Doug Wilson of not maximizing his trade skills, but Brent Burns has been better for San Jose than Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi have been for Minnesota, and Martin Havlat tripping over the dasher and losing 39 games is not really managements fault.Well give you Jamie McGinn for the moment, as he has considerably outperformed both Daniel Winnik and T.J. Galiardi, but if Colorado doesnt make the playoffs, how much damage was done? And do you really think that McGinn could have snapped the rest of the roster to attention against Calgary or Columbus or Buffalo?No, this is not on the coach, and the general manager hasnt failed either. There are too many years of good results to determine that they have become stupid.This is about the players taking too long to learn how not to be front-runners, about relying on their talent to save them when their attention span and devotion to detail are more important.These results speak volumes about their inability to learn a new skill playing with angry dogs snapping at their hinders and about their refusal to accept their new paradigm as an ordinary team producing sub-ordinary results.In short, they need to take the games in hand and the wins over Nashville and Detroit and Philly and the history and shove them all forcefully in an uncomfortable place. The players as a group and individually must look at these results, throw up themselves, and then play as though they were merely a 45-day aberration rather than the condemnation they really are.Unless they are actually worse than everyone thinks they are, and that the four-year window they expected is closing after two. And let that marinate with you, too.Ray Ratto is a columnist

Rewind: Shorthanded Penguins stun Sharks in late comeback

Rewind: Shorthanded Penguins stun Sharks in late comeback

PITTSBURGH – The primary reason the Sharks made the additions and subtractions they did in the offseason was to match up better against a swift-skating team like Pittsburgh, which won last June’s Stanley Cup Final by playing a game based on speed.

If the first rematch is any indication, even a dramatically shorthanded Penguins team can still get the job done against San Jose.

Despite no Sidney Crosby, no Kris Letang, no Matt Murray, no Conor Sheary, and no third defense pair of Olli Maatta and Derrick Poulliot for the third period, the Penguins stormed from behind to give the Sharks a 3-2 loss on Thursday night at PPG Paints Arena. All of the Penguins’ goals came in the third period after they trailed 2-0 to start the final frame.

For the second time in four games on their road trip, the Sharks controlled play through two periods. That was enough against lowly Columbus last Saturday, but not against the Penguins, who got goals from Evgeni Malkin, Scott Wilson and Patric Hornqvist in span of eight minutes and 15 seconds in the third.

“Let them hang around a little bit, which is something we’ve done lately,” Pete DeBoer said. “Had some opportunities to extend it, and didn’t. Probably deserved to be up by more, but we weren’t. That’s what happens.”

San Jose got goals from Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau in the second period, a period that saw them outshoot the Penguins, 17-4. Shots were 27-10 overall through 40 minutes.

They started well in the third, too, when Mikkel Boedker drew a trip on Malkin at 4:10. Just after the ensuing power play had expired, Boedker was staring at a wide open net after slick seam pass from Joonas Donskoi, but fired wide.

Malkin scored 30 seconds later, and the comeback was on.

“Just missed it. It’s a tough shot when it comes from the other way, but [Donskoi] made a good pass,” Boedker said. “It’s one of those you want to put in, and when things are going the right way, they come in bunches. … Obviously it sucks, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

After Malkin’s goal, and another by Wilson tied it, the Sharks took a pair of minor penalties. Paul Martin was called for a delay of game that was killed off, but Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s slash on Bryan Rust resulted in Hornqvist’s winner with less than six minutes to go in regulation.

Joe Pavelski didn’t seem to like either call, indicating that Martin’s errant clearing attempt hit a Penguins stick on its way out, and the Vlasic slash late a tie game is a call “that you don’t always see.”

Hornqvist got a couple fortunate bounces on his goal, too. He took control of the puck in front of the net after it hit Joel Ward’s foot, and his shot attempt deflected in off of Martin’s skate.

“They got a bounce or two more, but the position we were in, it shouldn’t matter how many bounces they get,” Pavelski said. “We’ve got to seal that game.”

The captain expressed disappointment over the fact that the Sharks squandered a chance to move to 4-1-0 on the season, which would be an accomplishment considering their early peripatetic schedule in which they played just one home game before traveling east.

That outweighed any sort of revenge factor that might have been on the minds of the players that were defeated by Pittsburgh in the Final last spring.

“The biggest thing is we were playing for a 4-1 record going into that third [period]. Not because it was the Penguins,” Pavelski said. “It’s early in the year and it’s not easy to start coming on the road with all these games. Now we’re staring at 3-2, and we move on. It would have been nice to beat them, for sure, but the best thing would have been for that record.”

The Sharks can still conclude their five-game trip with a winning mark by beating Detroit on Saturday.

DeBoer said: “We’re not going to overreact. We played very good hockey for large amounts of this game. Learn from it, and move forward.”

Instant Replay: Sharks blow lead in Cup rematch with Penguins

Instant Replay: Sharks blow lead in Cup rematch with Penguins


PITTSBURGH – It wasn’t the Stanley Cup Final, but it was a disappointing defeat for the Sharks against the Penguins nonetheless, as Pittsburgh stormed back from a two-goal deficit in the third period to stun San Jose, 3-2.

The game-winner came from Patric Hornqvist. On a Pittsburgh power play, he found a loose puck and swiped it in off of Paul Martin's skate with 5:58 left in regulation.

The Penguins trailed 2-0 to start the third, but Evgeni Malkin got them on the board. After the Sharks were caught scrambling in front of their own net, Malkin took control of the disc in the high slot. He spun around and flicked it through Martin Jones at 6:47.

A little more than two minutes later, Hornqvist drilled Brenden Dillon on the corner, jarring the puck loose from the wall. Scott Wilson grabbed it, swooped towards the crease and slipped it though at 9:01 to knot the game at 2-2.

The Sharks (3-2-0) fell to 2-2 on their five-game road trip, which concludes with their final visit to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on Saturday.

San Jose scored twice in a dominant second period in which it outshot Pittsburgh, 17-4.

Tomas Hertl’s second goal in as many games opened the scoring. He got to the front of the net and poked in a Joe Pavelski rebound at 5:04 after goalie Marc-Andre Fleury lost control of his stick while making a save on Brent Burns moments earlier.

Patrick Marleau created the second goal at 16:15, stripping Chris Kunitz of the puck at the blue line and finishing off a give-and-go with Logan Couture for his second of the year.

Prior to Marleau’s marker, the Penguins had a power play goal waved off. On a power play, Phil Kessel directed a rebound towards the net, and it rattled around off of the post and Jones’ left pad. Hornqvist directed it in, but a video review showed it illegally went in off of his glove and not his stick with 6:41 left in the period.

San Jose was 28-0-2 last season when leading after two periods, and 9-0 in the playoffs.

Special teams

The Sharks allowed one power play goal in five Penguins advantages, and were 0-for-3 on the power play.

Mikkel Boedker had a chance to essentially seal the win on a third period advantage for the Sharks, but couldn’t bury a Joonas Donskoi pass into an empty net. Malkin brought the Penguins back to within a goal moments later.

San Jose killed off a Martin delay of game penalty at 10:17 of the third to keep it 2-2, but Marc-Edouard Vlasic's slash led to Hornqvists's goal.

In goal

Jones fell to 2-2 on the season with three goals allowed on 20 shots.

Marc-Andre Fleury got the win with 32 saves. Starter Matt Murray remains out with a hand injury.


Pittsburgh was down to four defensemen by the end of the game, as Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot were forced from action in the second period.

The Penguins were without several key pieces to start the game, including Murray, best defenseman Kris Letang, and the best player in the world, Sidney Crosby.

Matt Nieto returned to the lineup in place of Micheal Haley on the fourth line. Nieto was a healthy scratch on Tuesday against the Islanders.

Up next

After Saturday’s game in Detroit, the Sharks finally play their second game at SAP Center on Tuesday, Oct. 25 against Anaheim in the first of a three-game homestand. Columbus and Nashville also visit.