The San Jose Sharks are currently ranked second in the Pacific Division, but their position is a lot shakier than it might originally appear.
With 66 points in 58 games played, their lead is tenuous over Vancouver (65 in 55 GP) and Calgary (65 in 56 GP) while Los Angeles’ surge looks foreboding as the Kings have 62 points in 55 games played.
In other words, San Jose can’t really afford lengthy stumbles (like going 2-4-2 in its past eight games), so Sunday’s 5-2 defeat to the Tampa Bay Lightning is quite troubling.
More than anything else, the Sharks seem worried about defensive lapses, as CSNBayArea.com reports.
“It’s so frustrating because the mistakes we’re making are things we work on, things that we do in practice, things that we watch on video,” Logan Couture said.
“I mean, no one’s going to be perfect in a hockey game, but when you’re constantly making the same mistakes every single night, you need to take a look in the mirror and wonder what you’re bringing, if you’re mentally prepared every night and you know what you’re supposed to do.”
Marc-Edouard Vlasic returning to the mix should help long-term, but that wasn’t really the case on Sunday, as he had a matching -2 rating with defensive partner Brent Burns.
Couture frames the issue a the Sharks being self-destructive, yet one cannot help but wonder if the Sharks simply lack the personnel to raise their level of defensive play. Whatever the explanation may be, San Jose cannot afford to fade down the stretch.
Cutting down on their own mistakes would certainly improve their odds of avoiding a lull.