SAN JOSE — The Sharks were not predicted to be a playoff team this season. They weren’t supposed to be able to compete in a realigned division that was tougher than the one they were in the previous year when they finished last among eight teams.
Also, how could they overcome playing their first 12 games of a 56-game season on the road?
But on the morning of April 10, the Sharks, with an 18-17-4 record and 17 games to go, were basically in control of their own destiny. They were three points behind the Arizona Coyotes for fourth place in the West Division with two games in hand, and two points back of the St. Louis Blues with one game in hand.
They were riding high, having won five of six games.
Then, in a two-week stretch, it all slipped away.
After their 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings on April 9, the Sharks wouldn’t be victorious again until April 26 when they beat the Coyotes 6-4. They went 0-7-1 from April 10 to April 24, their longest losing streak in 15 years.
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Before the Sharks played their first game with Arizona last week, they were six points out of a playoff spot with nine games left to play.
It was over.
“We thought that a lot of those games, most of those games,” Sharks defenseman Mario Ferraro said of the eight-game losing streak earlier this week, “were on us and our preparation and our compete level.”
Monday, the Sharks (20-26-5) could mathematically be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss to the Colorado Avalanche in regulation time and a St. Louis victory when the Blues play the Anaheim Ducks.
But regardless of whether it becomes official Monday or not, the Sharks inevitably will miss the postseason in consecutive seasons for just the third time in their 30-year history.
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Here are five reasons why it fell apart for the Sharks over a 14-day stretch last month.
SCORING DRIES UP: From the start of the season until April 9, a handful of Sharks players were having solid, if unspectacular, offensive seasons. Evander Kane led the way with 35 points in 39 games, a 0.90 points-per-game average, followed by Tomas Hertl (0.76) and Logan Couture (0.67). Brent Burns, Kevin Labanc, and Timo Meier all averaged 0.62 points per game.
But during the eight-game skid, Hertl was the only Sharks’ player to average more than half a point per game, as he had two goals and three assists in that time. Meier had four points in eight games. But Nikolai Knyzhov had just as many points, two, as Burns and Erik Karlsson. Joel Kellman also had two points, just as many as Kane. Couture and Labanc both had one point.
That’s not the way it’s supposed to work.
When the players who get paid to produce didn’t produce, the Sharks’ lack of scoring depth was exposed. Rudolfs Balcers and Ryan Donato each …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Sports
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