The San Jose Sharks have just one regulation defeat this season and are a point out of first place in the NHL.
But, according to head coach Todd McLellan, there’s plenty of room for improvement.
McLellan took his team to task following Tuesday’s 5-4 shootout loss to last place Buffalo, suggesting the Sharks have taken their foot off the pedal after starting the year 8-0-1.
“This was a fear of mine that we would be complacent, and we would turn it up when we thought we had to, and that was exactly what we got,” McLellan told CSN Bay Area. “I thought we were outworked for a large part of the game and out-detailed, certainly.”
As mentioned, the Sabres loss was San Jose’s third straight — they also dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to Phoenix on Saturday, and a 4-3 OTL in Los Angeles on Wednesday. The Sharks are still accumulating points (24 of a possible 30 thus far), but there are signs of struggle.
Their once-dominant power play has scored just three times in its last 25 attempts, and McLellan says sloppiness has led directly to a number of goals against in recent games.
“We probably played 10 minutes the way we want to and the other 55 were not very good,” he explained. “We weren’t anywhere near what we need to be to play against anybody in the league.”
It wouldn’t be a regular season game without a Columbus Blue Jackets injury, right?
OK, the Blue Jackets hope that 2015-16 looks different from the medically challenged mess of last season, but at least one player is banged up tonight.
Alexander Wennberg suffered an upper-body injury and won’t return on Friday, as the team noted.
There’s no word yet regarding how serious the issue might be. It looks like he might have suffered an injury thanks to a Chris Kreider check:
Naturally, the Blue Jackets must hope that this doesn’t begin another trend.
In slightly less interesting Los Angeles Kings news than the latest in the Mike Richards fiasco, the team handed Peter Budaj a one-year, two-way deal on Friday.
The veteran goalie’s contract pays $575K on the NHL level and $100K in the AHL (though it’s $150K guaranteed), according to Hockey’s Cap.
At the moment, it sounds like Budaj will be third on the Kings’ goalie depth chart. That says as much about how things have been going lately for Los Angeles than Budaj’s work on a PTO.
As noted above, one of the more significant moves in Budaj’s favor came when the New York Islanders claimed Jean-Francois Berube off of waivers this week.
The Kings actually waived Budaj before signing him, so this has to be a relief to a goalie with a fairly robust resume as a backup.
All apologies to Budaj, but it’s probably true that the Kings would prefer not to see him at the NHL level very often in 2015-16.