An opportunity to turn fortunes around for a postseason berth just became less likely for the San Jose Sharks with Logan Couture out at least six weeks with an ankle injury.
The season appears lost for the San Jose Sharks after a 2-2-1 road trip resulting in two disheartening losses. An uninspiring performance against league-worst Detroit got punctuated by a last-minute meltdown against Washington, surrendering two goals and falling in overtime.
But perhaps the most significant blow came in St. Louis with San Jose looking to end the trip on a positive note. In the second period, Logan Couture went into the boards after chasing down a loose puck, awkwardly and immediately grabbed his knee. Couture left the contest, putting little pressure on the injury and did not return.
San Jose tried to mount a comeback in the third period trailing 2-0 to St. Louis. A power play goal cut the Blues’ lead in half but immediately responded to regain a two-goal advantage. The Sharks got one more opportunity after getting a shorthanded goal but dropped a 3-2 decision.
Last year, at this juncture, the Blues were on the outside looking in for a playoff spot. A change in net sparked a run, resulting in the franchises first Stanley Cup. The Sharks currently sit in the same situation and have the players capable of replicating a winning streak to the postseason.
Without Couture, the Sharks’ playoff chances are dissolving quickly with the impact he makes on a nightly basis. The Sharks’ captain leads the team in points (36) and plays a critical role in the penalty kill, which is the best in the NHL.
San Jose Sharks
For the first-year captain, the injury is a devastating blow to a team searching to find consistency. A vocal leader even before getting the captaincy, Couture gives a blunt assessment on his performance and teammates, especially after losses. The Sharks’ locker room features different personalities, but Couture’s honesty is one of somebody who cares significantly about the organization and wants to win.
A coaching change already occurred with Peter DeBoer getting axed and replaced by Bob Boughner. A fruitful November followed with a weak beginning in December to prompt the dismissal.
On most nights, particularly this campaign, Couture carries the team on his back, whether killing penalties or generating offense. Five-on-five is slightly improving offensively and will come into the forefront once again without Couture.
Now, the pressure is on the underperforming players, which is everyone in the lineup. Overall, the Sharks are playing lackluster hockey with uninspiring performances and showing no willingness to compete against opponents.
Too much selfish play is on full display by San Jose with extra passes that allow the defense to thwart high-quality scoring chances. With a bunch of Sharks’ in goal droughts, most of the passing is in efforts to get players out of the slump.
Perhaps the Sharks already gave up on the season with the atrocious plays made on the ice. The fancy style moves almost appear as if they are auditioning for a role with Disney On Ice rather than shoot pucks on net.
To lose former captain Joe Pavelski undoubtedly stings not only the team but the fanbase. The Sharks faced a similar situation with Patrick Marleau leaving the first time. An aftershock occurred, but the Sharks recovered and turned in a decent season to make the playoffs.
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Currently, this team appears to lack the desire and choose to play sorry hockey just because Pavelski is no longer on the team. In short, the pathetic brand of hockey by the 2019-20 Sharks is a disservice to the organization and passionate fans already on a short fuse wanting a Stanley Cup brought to San Jose.
It’s easy to blame Doug Wilson for signing Erik Karlsson to a lengthy extension, bringing the Sharks up against the salary cap. The deal does not look good at the moment, with evident lack of forward depth and Karlsson not living up to expectations.
Karlsson’s deal is a no brainer as the defenseman is in the prime of his career but is not giving the results with the offensive prowess he possesses from his time in Ottawa. He will undoubtedly face the heat moving forward in providing more offense.
Blame does go directly to Wilson for his abandonment on the farm system. The San Jose Barracuda sit last in the AHL, and every rookie recalled to the big club is making a little impact to be full-time NHL players.
San Jose’s farm system ranks near the bottom and will likely remain unless Wilson starts selling to acquire draft picks. Wilson’s tenure as general manager may end this offseason to refresh the identity of the organization and the club, possibly.
With Couture out, his teammates must step up and bring the traits he brought nightly in hopes of salvaging the season.
Evander Kane recently got out of his scoring slump and needs to stay out of the penalty box. He leads the league in penalty minutes, and his absence affects the Sharks without the physical style he provides.
Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl must make impacts with the organization having high expectations for the young forwards. Meier scored against the Blues but did not have great outings on the road as he was often battling with the puck or being nonexistent.
A sense of direction appears lost amongst the Sharks, and the season seems bleak. Unless a reality check occurs, San Jose’s year will be an embarrassment with the readiness to compete, becoming a lost cause.