The San Jose Sharks are in trouble. The month of February has seen them win one game, against a St. Louis Blues team that had been stuck in Vancouver with plane trouble, delaying their arrival back home. The seven game win streak that bolted the team to the top of the charts seems a distant memory, a different team. Their six game road trip was a disaster on a multitude of levels. Out of a possible 12 points, they came home with 2. It began with a rout in Columbus, the Sharks getting outplayed, and in the words of Coach Todd McClellan “out a lot of things”. They allowed the Blue Jackets to score three goals in a mere 84 seconds during the third period. The next game landed them in Nashville, where pucks went to the net but nothing got by the netminder Rinne despite the Sharks outshooting the Predators during the first period. The game went scoreless until overtime, when the Preds Colin Wilson was able to get one past Niemi.
A Friday night game against the Blackhawks left the bedraggled Sharks with another loss to log. There were glimmers of the team that began the lockout delayed season, such as when Joe Thornton scrapped with Jonathan Toews in the first period.
Tim Kennedy scored San Jose’s only goal of the game, with production from the big boys Marleau, Thornton, and Pavelski absent. Then came the lone win in St. Louis where the Sharks wore down a travel weary Blues team with goals by Kennedy and Thornton, and a dominating third period.
The Sharks had to come back to Chicago for another attempt against the Blackhawks. Patrick Marleau gave San Jose the lead near the end of the first period. It would be their only goal they scored and the Sharks power play efforts went from bad to terrible. Brandon Saad got his first career shorthanded goal, as Brent Burns let him walk into the offensive zone and rifle the puck through Niemi in the third period, putting the lid on the game.
The goal scoring was over, but the penalties were not. A frustrated and weary team began fraying at the edges. A late hit on Joe Pavelski with less than a minute remaining brought Ryane Clowe over the boards in pursuit of Andrew Shaw. After a disciplinary hearing over the phone with Brendan Shanahan on Monday morning, Clowe’s actions resulted in a two-game suspension since it was deemed a legal line change.
The Sharks made one more attempt at a win in Dallas, but the stars were not aligned for the Sharks. Their power play continued to fizzle and their seemingly impenetrable penalty kill showed some holes as Dallas scored two goals on the man advantage. Again Patrick Marleau netted the lone goal for the Sharks and Thornton once again dropped the gloves, this time with Jamie Benn, the two engaging in an old-fashioned bucky spinning brawl.
The Sharks literally hobbled home to the Tank. Brent Burns, Tommy Wingels, and Marty Havlat all came home a little worse for wear. Burns will be out for at least two games, and Wingels and Havlat will be a wait and see for the last game of the month against the Avalanche on Tuesday on home ice. Clowe will sit out the game, finishing off his suspension. A team that began the season sitting pretty at second in the Western Conference goes into the month of March looking pretty ugly in ninth place.