While the Columbus Blue Jackets revel in seeing signs of last year’s rising squad in a 5-4 comeback win, that same game left the San Jose Sharks worrying about their defense.
“There were a lot of things that happened in this game that remind me of what this team is,” Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards said, according to the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline. “Last year, our identity was that of a resilient team. And this, tonight, was a resilient win.”
The Blue Jackets found themselves down 2-0 and 4-3 during a wild game, yet they clawed back both times. Columbus can thank Scott Hartnell and his career-high four assists for much of that success, with his “kick-pass” ranking as maybe the key highlight:
All four of Hartnell’s helpers were considered primary assists, including the Mark Letestu game-winner, which came with less than 30 seconds remaining:
As CSNBayArea.com’s Kevin Kurz notes, the Sharks are developing a disturbing pattern of poor finishes and blown leads:
The Sharks have scored first in six of eight games, and hold a 10-1 advantage in the first period overall, best in the league. In the third period, however, they have been outscored 12-6.
These defensive issues haven’t gone unnoticed by head coach Todd McLellan:
The question remains: how much can the Sharks expect to improve on defense? While Dan Boyle and Brad Stuart were getting long in the tooth, the franchise let both of them go and didn’t really improve on the blueline (beyond moving Brent Burns back into that group). While Marc-Edouard Vlasic and others have some talent, it’s unclear if San Jose boasts the defensive depth to stick with the best.
Whatever the case may be, the Sharks must play better with leads or a season that started with promise could end in a grim way.
/Checks for broken record.
Here are full highlights of the game: