San Jose Sharks: Recent Slump Raising Questions Before Playoffs

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 18: Logan Couture #39 of the San Jose Sharks is congratulated by teammates after he scored a goal against the Vegas Golden Knights at SAP Center on March 18, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 18: Logan Couture #39 of the San Jose Sharks is congratulated by teammates after he scored a goal against the Vegas Golden Knights at SAP Center on March 18, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

With a berth to the Stanley Cup Playoffs secured, the San Jose Sharks are facing a degree of adversity after recent injuries and a current losing streak raising doubt of being contenders.

After losing Erik Karlsson in Boston, the San Jose Sharks did not panic after losing to a soft Bruins team that night. Without the prized acquisition in the offseason, the Sharks have played well without his services earlier in the season.

A six-game winning streak began as the Sharks kept pace with the Flames for the top spot in the Pacific Division. The forward depth on San Jose’s roster stands out as the most significant factor the team keeps winning. Credit also goes to defensemen Tim Heed and Joakim Ryan, both frequent healthy scratches which have been useful when getting inserted into the lineup.

Wins against Chicago, Montreal, Colorado, and Minnesota are impressive from the win streak as the Sharks found ways to win over the four-team all vying for playoff positions. In season’s past, the Sharks frequently bent over against opponents in the hunt for the playoffs.

But the good times are adrift currently as the Sharks have dropped six-straight and trail the Flames in the standings. With Vegas getting hot all the sudden, San Jose could open the first round on the road against the Golden Knights.

Karlsson’s absence immediately hit the team after Radim Simek suffered a season-ending knee injury against Winnipeg. Simek provided a physical and dependable playmaking defensively after Karlsson came out the first time from a groin injury. He rarely made any mistakes, and his emergence solidified the Sharks as boasting the top defensive cores in the NHL.

To lose a steady defenseman in Simek is a blow to the Sharks with the skillset he brings to the club. Karlsson expects to be ready for the playoffs but getting him some games before the regular season concludes will give the team and the organization a sigh of relief to show he is at full strength.

Martin Jones is not having a great campaign in the save percentage department. Both Jones and backup, Aaron Dell, combine for the lowest save percentage in the league. Jones does have the primary stat with 34 wins and hopefully will put the struggles aside in the first round.

San Jose’s recent slide is not helping Jones prove skeptics wrong. Stoppable shots are getting past him with notable games at home against Boston, Nashville, and Las Vegas standing out. The play in front is still in question with the Sharks allowing over three goals per game sitting at 21st in the league.

In the last game at home against Detroit, the effort came at the wrong time. Down two goals in the third period, the Sharks made a push, finally showing signs of life after dismal displays the previous contests. Unfortunately, not enough determination came from the men in teal, falling to the Red Wings. For a team with plenty of scoring depth, the current slump is concerning given the team is crumbling with a player in Simek out of the lineup.

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The fault is to be on both sides, but in critical junctures of the game, Jones is not making the routine stops to keep the Sharks in the contest. The same can be said for the forwards and the defense for making errant passes or arrogant mistakes leading to costly turnovers.

Both Brent Burns and Karlsson are high-risk, high-reward offensive-minded defensemen who are both unique in the skills contributed to the Sharks. Frustration indeed mounted from the current losing slump after Burns made a terrible play in Los Angeles. In a game the Sharks commanded, one slip up saw the Kings come away with an undeserving win.

Two weeks remain before the Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway with the Sharks playing five of seven at the Shark Tank. Calgary and Las Vegas come on a back-to-back this weekend which could ultimately decide the division. The Sharks can still take the top spot but have little wiggle room after the current skid.

Calgary’s schedule appears favorable with two matchups against both Anaheim and Los Angeles who are both out of the playoff picture. Scoreboard watching should be of zero concern for the Sharks and must get back to playing hockey before the injury bug hit the squad.

To lose Joe Pavelski for a few games did hurt the Sharks at an offensive standpoint. Pavelski leads the team with 37 goals and having one of his best campaigns in a teal sweater with his future up in the air after the season.

Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier are the two players to watch for in the reaming weeks and into the playoffs. Hertl is living up to the expectations after hitting the 30-goal for the first time in his career. Meier is starting to find the net again which will bode well for the Sharks if he can continue the trend.

Next. Joe Pavelski Leading Sharks Towards Stanley Cup. dark

In a year with expectations of reaching the Stanley Cup Final, the Sharks are facing difficulties at the wrong time. Areas in which Peter DeBoer was hoping his players resolved throughout the season. Hopefully, this small hiccup will strengthen the team and put all elements together on the big stage.