The San Jose Sharks, who begin a five-game road trip in Nashville on Saturday, are the NHL’s last winless team.
SAN JOSE, Calif. – Four games into the season, and almost all of the major concerns about the San Jose Sharks have been confirmed.
Playing the NHL’s most difficult schedule to date, the Sharks, without Logan Couture and Mikael Granlund, are not only struggling to score but have also developed a habit of giving up deflating goals at inopportune times.
Without Erik Karlsson, the Sharks’ current defense corps has combined for one assist.
With a 0-3-1 record, the Sharks, who begin a five-game road trip in Nashville on Saturday, are the NHL’s last remaining winless team.
“Listen, we all knew what we were in for on this homestand, right? “Let’s be honest,” Sharks coach David Quinn said after his team’s 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins on Thursday. “We feel like we’re not that far off.”
The Sharks’ first four opponents, Vegas, Colorado, Carolina, and Boston, have a combined record of 15-2-0. With the Predators and their 2-3-0 record, things will be a little easier for San Jose on Saturday, but the bigger issue of figuring out how to win without two of their top three centermen, Couture and Granlund, remains.
The Sharks have only scored one goal in three of their first four games and six overall this season.
Anthony Duclair got off to a good start against the Bruins on Thursday with a goal off an assist from Tomas Hertl at 11:13 of the third period. However, fellow forwards Alexander Barabanov and Luke Kunin are still without a point, while Mike Hoffman and William Eklund each have one.
“I’m just looking for a full 60-minute effort for myself,” Duclair told reporters. “It’s always nice to see the puck go in the net.” It boosted my self-esteem, especially before the road trip. Hopefully, this is the beginning of something special.”
Still, the Sharks are desperately looking for solutions to their center problems.
Thomas Bordeleau’s ice time has now been reduced in four consecutive games, with him playing only 11:08 on Thursday. Instead of dressing Jacob Peterson as their third-line center against the Bruins, the Sharks went with Kunin, who has only had limited experience in the position over the last three seasons.
Aside from that, Quinn only has so many levers to pull and buttons to press.
Hertl is the starting center, and Nico Sturm is in the bottom six. With Couture and Granlund both out indefinitely, the rest of the roster could be up for grabs.
While Couture will remain at home for the Sharks’ five-game, nine-day trip, which includes stops in Florida, Tampa Bay, Carolina, and Washington, Quinn confirmed that Granlund will travel, though it is unclear when the Finnish forward will play again.
“It’ll be great to see Granlund and Couture return at some point.” “That will make a significant difference for us,” Quinn said. “In essence, when you lose those two guys, you lose six players, You lose those two guys, they’re going to certainly elevate the play of the two wings.”
Five of the Sharks’ 15 goals in four games this season have come in the final two minutes of a period. One prevented the Sharks from defeating the Avalanche at home last weekend, and the Sharks also allowed two goals just seconds apart shortly before intermission on two other occasions.
The most recent example occurred on Thursday, when a scoreless game was transformed into a two-goal Bruins lead in the final 1:54 of the first period. Brad Marchand scored at 18:06, and James van Riemsdyk scored 21 seconds later from near the crease, pushing the puck — and Kaapo Kahkonen’s pad — across the goal line for his third goal of the season.
“What’s killing us right now are the late goals late in periods,” Duclair said. “We’ve given (those) up a couple of games in a row now, so, try to defend a little harder closing out periods and just battle all over the ice.”
“It’s demoralizing when you’re down 2-0, isn’t it?” “What we need to improve on is the psychological aspect,” Quinn said.
Perhaps the Sharks can build on some of what they did against the Bruins, such as establishing some offensive zone time. Regardless, the Sharks will look for any way to avoid losing five consecutive games for the second year in a row.
“We did some really good things tonight,” Quinn said. “We’re in a hockey game and we just take our foot off the pedal a little bit and we pay the price, So we’ve got to learn to finish periods and play the full 20.”