The San Jose Sharks season was already on the brink, but a stretch of hockey clocking in at a mere 30 minutes may have put the proverbial nail in the coffin for this season. That’s all it took for the San Jose Sharks season to look finished.
These 30 minutes are spread over two games and can be broken into three parts. The first few minutes, the last few minutes and the time in between.
San Jose Sharks Season is Bleak
The First Minutes of San Jose Sharks Season Collapse
Things for the Sharks were looking positive on their trip to the nation’s capital. They had managed to carve out a 3-2 lead late in the game before Logan Couture buried an empty-net goal to make it 4-2. This put the Sharks on the brink of a much-needed win. It would run their win streak to three games, all on the road, all over quality opponents.
Things went south from there, and in a big way. In the game’s final minute, the Sharks allowed two goals to the Washington Capitals and the game ended regulation tied. A stunned Sharks team didn’t make it through the overtime. Two minutes in, a Lars Eller goal ended the contest, with an assist credited to netminder Braden Holtby. Various wonks descended on their history books and found a variety of firsts, or firsts in a long time, to describe the Sharks collapse. Safe to say, losing a game with a two-goal lead in the final minute of regulation is very rare.
The Last Minutes
The lost opportunity in Washington made the following game against the St. Louis Blues even more critical. Neither team scored in the first 25 minutes of the game, with both teams playing well. For the Sharks, the next few minutes were a disaster. They gave up a pair of goals in just over a minute and fell behind 2-0. Less than a minute later, team captain Couture went hard into the boards and required help to leave the ice after suffering a leg injury, reported to be a fractured ankle.
Though the Sharks played well the remainder of the game, they would go on to lose 3-2.
San Jose Sharks Life In Hell
Though more famous for creating The Simpsons, Matt Groening created a comic strip entitled Life In Hell. Sharks fans can be forgiven for feeling this way.
Statistically speaking, the Sharks were outscored 5-0 in those 30 minutes and the team’s top player was injured. He appears out for an extended time, perhaps the rest of the season.
The sad part of it is, the Sharks played well just prior to the 30 minutes, they played well after it ended and they even played well for the 25 minutes in the middle. Indeed, the Sharks played well enough to win both games. Against the Blues, the Sharks had plenty of excellent scoring chances. But the Blues managed to bury their few chances while the Sharks didn’t bury enough of their own chances. The Blues game-winning goal came on a shot that changed direction after it deflected off a Sharks glove. This sort of thing defines the San Jose Sharks season and struggles.
New Coach May Help
The frustration is palpable. After an awful two months to start the season left the team in a deep hole, the Sharks attempted to regroup under interim coach Bob Boughner. To Boughner’s credit, the team is playing meaningfully better. This includes a pair of recent road wins against strong teams followed by the competitive games against two of the league’s best, the Blues and Caps. But brief lapses have proven costly and given how deep the hole was to start with, there is no margin for error.
It is too early to call it a lost season and from the team’s perspective, there is no urgency to make the call right now. That hasn’t stopped plenty of supporters and commentators from accepting now what appears inevitable. But absent a major surge before the All-Star break, expect the team makes the call by then.
The team’s record makes the playoffs unlikely. Adding Couture’s injury to the mix makes ‘unlikely’ feel like an understatement. Even the potential for a high draft pick is gone as the Sharks top pick resides with the Ottawa Senators.
Despite all the downs this season, there was hope in Sharks Territory. Before those 30 minutes that summarized the San Jose Sharks season.