San Jose Sharks continued survival tactics are not sustainable

San Jose Sharks (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
San Jose Sharks (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

The San Jose Sharks have made a habit out of surviving their opponents instead of truly defeating them in recent games. Unfortunately, this strategy is unsustainable.

The San Jose Sharks have found themselves with a little bit of momentum, riding a two-game win streak into the weekend. Despite a 6-10-1 record, their most recent two games have at least been a cause for some optimism surrounding the franchise.

Sure, the two victories came at the expense of the Central Division’s two bottom-feeders in the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild. But it was certainly promising to see the team pick up two much-needed wins.

Unfortunately, those two games weren’t quite as one-sided as they perhaps should have been.

In both matchups, the Sharks jumped out to multi-goal leads and seemed like they had victory all but secured. However, in what has become a troubling theme, the Sharks suffered a meltdown in the final few minutes only to barely hold on for the victory.

In the Blackhawks game, San Jose led 3-0 with just over 3:00 to play before two Chicago goals cut into the lead in the final couple of minutes. If not for a late empty-net goal, the final margin would have looked even slimmer.

And against the Wild, the Sharks played perhaps their best 20 minutes of the season when the jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the first period. From that point on, they would lead 5-1 and later 6-2 going into the third period with a four-goal lead.

But the Sharks would almost suffer a complete breakdown with goalie Martin Jones allowing three Minnesota goals on three consecutive shots cutting San Jose’s lead to just one.

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Yes, the Sharks were able to hold on in each game — they’ve done a good job of surviving. But surviving a late-game disaster is a lot easier when playing teams like the Blackhawks and the Wild.

Looking at the team’s upcoming schedule, it’s unlikely that they will find similar luck.

The Sharks will take on the 9-5-2 Nashville Predators on Saturday before finishing off the homestand with a game against the Pacific DIvision-leading Edmonton Oilers. And it’s imperative that the Sharks don’t make the same mistakes in those games.

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It’s ironic that the Sharks find themselves in the situation they’re in right now. Early in the season, the team struggled with slow, sluggish starts and they were almost always falling behind early and playing catch-up.

However, now that they’ve mastered their quick starts, they can’t seem to close the deal with the same gusto.

The Sharks have been a confusing enigma all season and that trend certainly carries over here. While their special teams play is among the best on the NHL, they’ve still struggled with 5-on-5 action to this point.

That’s confusing and things like this indicate that much of the team’s struggles are mental more than anything else. But they’ll have to clean some of that stuff up if they’re going to claw their way back into the postseason this season.

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The San Jose Sharks may have survived some of the league’s worst teams, but they’ll have to employ a much more sound strategy if they are to find success against the NHL’s elite.