The Sharks are noticing something after making the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history:
They’re on everybody’s radar.
You can’t blame the defending Western Conference champs for being unfamiliar with this position — heck, this is new for everybody in San Jose — but according to head coach Peter DeBoer, the Sharks better get used to it, and quick, if they want to snap out of their uneven start (6-5-0).
From CSN Bay Area, following Thursday’s 3-2 home loss to Calgary:
Makes you wonder if DeBoer’s “target on our back” message has gotten through to everyone yet. Indications are that it hasn’t.
“If they don’t [understand the message], we’re getting a lesson in that pretty much nightly here,” DeBoer said. “The desperation level of the teams we’re playing is very high, and ours is high for stages of the game, but not for 60 minutes.
“This is a league where if you don’t play desperate for 60 minutes you’re really limiting your opportunities to win, and I think that’s where we’re at right now.”
One of the biggest issues in San Jose right now?
Traditionally one of the league’s most prolific scoring teams, the Sharks sit 21st in goals per game, and there are a few key suspects in that regard. Big free agent signing Mikkel Boedker has found the back of the net just twice, the same amount Joel Ward and Tommy Wingels have combined.
But with that said, it’s not like the Sharks are playing poorly.
They’re top-10 in GAA and on the penalty kill, and the power play is clicking at a respectable 22 percent. They’ve also ripped off a three-game winning streak already.
The problem, it seems, comes from the opposition.
The Sharks are an elite team, and spent an awful lot of time in the spotlight last season. That usually translates into being a measuring stick for the other team or, if nothing else, a game they can get up for. It’s what DeBoer keeps harping on, and one wonders if he’s referring to his time in New Jersey, when the Devils followed up their surprise Stanley Cup Final appearance by missing the playoffs altogether the following season.
In that light, the next few weeks will be interesting.
The Sharks will take their show on the road beginning Nov. 8 for a huge six-game trip through Washington, Florida, Tampa Bay, Carolina, St. Louis and Arizona.