The San Jose Sharks don’t have the kind of attendance issues that teams like the Florida Panthers face, but at times this season has been a trying one when measured against their past success. San Jose sold out 205 straight games until that streak was broken on Oct. 25. They have gone on to sellout just 14 of their 29 home contests and Wednesday’s game against Washington drew their smallest crowd since Feb. 2, 2006 with a total of 16,956 fans in attendance.
That’s caught Joe Pavelski’s attention, but he doesn’t blame the fans for the diminished showings.
“I think right from the start we were aware of it. The first game,” Pavelski told CSN Bay Area. “Obviously, the crowd has been there, and we love our fans. I’ll be the first to say I love playing in the Shark Tank.
“But, the way things were handled in the summer – I don’t blame some of the fans, either. There was no real buzz created. Not that there has to be, we as players own part of that and we’ve got to play better and harder. We’ve got to put our best product out there. They are bringing it for us and supporting us, and we’ve got to create that atmosphere on the ice for them.”
San Jose had an unusual summer to say the least. There was talk of a rebuild after the team’s first round collapse to the Los Angeles Kings, but that led to little material change to the team’s core.
The Sharks have since had a decent season and are in position to make the playoffs for the 11th straight campaign. Every team that enters the postseason has a chance to win it all, but the Sharks will have a tough time getting far and optimism is difficult to generate given the past playoff showings that statistically better Sharks squads have produced.
Head coach Todd McLellan is of the mindset that the team’s performance is the biggest factor in attendance numbers and that if they “keep doing our job to try and get better and improve” then they can bring people back. Which is fair because certainly there’s no question at this point that there’s a sizable fanbase willing to support this team.
In the meantime, it’s worth repeating that while their sellout streak might be broken, the crowds haven’t been bad.
It took four tries, but the San Jose Sharks were finally able to provide head coach Todd McLellan with his 300th victory with their 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes Friday night.
San Jose fell behind 2-0 in the first period, but Sharks forward Joe Pavelski led the charge in the second with a marker just 27 seconds into the second.
Pavelski became the third player this season to reach the 30-goal mark when he tied the contest midway through the second frame. He later helped himself to an empty net goal to complete the hat trick. Rookie Barclay Goodrow, 21, accounted for the Sharks’ other marker tonight.
With 300 wins in 515 games, McLellan is the second fastest bench boss to ever reach that milestone, behind only Bruce Boudreau, who did it in 496 contests. Since McLellan assumed his current role as head coach of the Sharks in 2008-09, San Jose has never missed the playoffs.
The Sharks are in position to advance to the postseason again this year, although their spot is far from secure. Their position has weakened after dropping five of their previous six contests, but their win tonight gives them a five-point cushion in the battle for a playoff spot.
At this point, does the word debut have any meaning left for Mark Arcobello? Tonight he is playing for his fourth NHL team this season as his Arizona Coyotes take on the San Jose Sharks.
Arcobello has been traded once and claimed off waivers twice in 2014-15 and has consequently also played for the Edmonton Oilers, Nashville Predators, and Pittsburgh Penguins. That alone is an accomplishment as tonight he became just the third player to play with four teams in a single season after Dennis O’Brien in 1977-78 and Dave McLlwain in 1991-92, per the NHL’s PR Department.
Then he made his Coyotes debut even more noteworthy by beating Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi just 1:42 minutes into the game:
With that, he joined O’Brien as the second player in NHL history to record at least a point with four teams in one campaign. It was Arcobello’s ninth goal and 16th point this season.
San Jose will be without stalwart defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic (upper-body) four a fourth straight game tonight against Arizona and, in light of what’s turned into a fairly lengthy absence, the Sharks tried to clear the air this afternoon by insisting Vlasic doesn’t have a concussion.
Of course, that only left people to ask: If it’s an upper-body injury and not a concussion… what is it?
From the San Jose Mercury News:
Responding to published reports, Sharks coach Todd McLellan on Friday flatly denied that Vlasic had a concussion that was suffered Feb. 4 in Calgary against the Flames. In that game, Vlasic missed half of the second period and part of the third before he returned to finish the game. At the time, McLellan said Vlasic was dealing with an equipment issue.
Vlasic played 24 minutes the next night against the Vancouver Canucks and skated the morning of Feb. 7 before the Carolina game, hours before he was scratched. Vlasic said the next day he was suffering from a cold, but also said he ate a bad lunch. McLellan said at the time that it was an upper body injury and soon after, Vlasic was put on injured reserve.
Worth noting that if the timing on Vlasic’s “equipment issue” is accurate, it’s a pretty long issue, considering there was an 18-minute intermission between the second and third periods.
It’s also worth noting that CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz described the Feb. 8 media session — the one in which Vlasic said he had a cold and ate a bad lunch — as “strange.”
Whatever the case, it’s not good news for the Sharks. Vlasic is second on the team in TOI per game (22:20) and is second to Brent Burns for goals by defensemen, with six.
And as Brough wrote earlier today, the Sharks could really use a win tonight. They’ve lost five of six and have seen their chances of making the playoffs fall to 59.1 percent, per Sports Club Stats.
News and notes from around the crease…
His name is Jhonas
Kari Lehtonen will begin life on a short leash tonight against Florida — he’ll start against the Panthers, but will have newly acquired backup Jhonas Enroth on the bench for the first time since GM Jim Nill acquired him from Buffalo on Wednesday.
Lehtonen, who has been criticized this year for his uneven play, is 4-2-1 with a 2.70 GAA and .916 save percentage since the All-Star break — decent numbers, but hardly the type Dallas needs as it looks to get back into a playoff position.
Per Stars head coach Lindy Ruff, Enroth will “likely” play at some point this weekend. Based on that, he’ll probably be in goal tomorrow when Dallas takes on the Avs in Colorado.
For Florida, sounds like Al Montoya is likely for tonight’s affair.
Flyers at Jackets: Ray Emery vs. Curtis McElhinney
Devils at ‘Hawks: Cory Schneider vs. Corey Crawford
Sharks at Coyotes: Antti Niemi vs. Mike Smith
Bruins at Canucks: Ryan Miller for Vancouver, no word yet on a Bruins starter.