The Sharks were originally supposed to hold a training session in San Jose before arriving in the Phoenix area for their two-game series with the Arizona Coyotes. To help his team save energy for the first game on Friday, coach Bob Boughner decided to cancel the skate at the home stadium.
“We decided instead of bringing (the players) on Thursday that we would get everyone to meet on the plane,” said Boughner on Friday morning. “It’s just an opportunity to leave the boys at home for a few hours and relax a little more.”
It wasn’t working as well as Boughner had hoped.
Looking both physically and mentally tired when the series opened against the Coyotes, the Sharks got off to a slow start and made too many mistakes in their 5-2 loss to Arizona at the Gila River Arena.
The sharks were almost flat from the start when they were outbid with 12: 4 in the first period. Only Martin Jones’ solid game prevented Arizona from having a greater than 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.
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“They looked really nice at first and we were flat, had no energy, which is disappointing because we were off yesterday and I thought we’d bring out a bit more,” Sharks Captain Logan said of Couture. “Just one of those nights.”
The sharks will try to recover against the coyotes on Saturday night, but the problem of fatigue won’t go away anytime soon.
The second game in the series is the fourth in six days in San Jose and the eighth in 13 days. The Sharks are also playing four games over six days next week and will have a total of 16 games over 30 days next month. The only salvation, perhaps, is that nine of the games will be home in April, which obviously limits travel expenses.
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In total, the Sharks will play 24 games in 43 days from Saturday until the end of the regular season on May 8th.
Other teams in the West Division will be just as busy. However, these teams are not trying to return to the playoff position from seventh place.
With that in mind, Boughner and his staff don’t make plans too far in advance. They have an optional skate this morning and will likely have Sunday off before heading to home against the Minnesota Wild on Monday.
Additionally, aside from the scheduled games, Boughner will try to adjust while he and the sharks go.
Right now it’s about improving work ethic.
“We have to answer the ball (Saturday) and therefore we have to leave it behind, forget it, learn from it,” said Boughner. “We’re going to look at it tonight, we’re going to come up with a few X’s and O’s, but none of that matters if you’re not ready to come out and have the other team work and revise, and I thought we.” I didn’t check that box tonight and you get that. ”
The fatigue problem for the Sharks may contribute to how much they have relied on their top players this season.
Prior to Friday’s game, Couture averaged 19 minutes and 34 seconds of ice time per game, up from 17:36 four years ago and 18:32 last season.
Arizona Coyotes Center Christian Dvorak, 18, celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal against the San Jose Sharks in the first round of an NHL hockey game on Friday, March 26, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (AP Photo / Rick Scuteri)
Couture is the ninth in the Ice Age among all strikers in the division. Evander Kane (19:51) is seventh and Tomas Hertl (19:03) tenth. Defenders Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson, who are used to playing tough minutes, play an average of 26:28 and 23:45 per game, respectively.
Burns and Karlsson were on the ice for four Coyotes goals on Friday, with Burns’ giveaway leading straight to an unassisted goal from Christian Dvorak at 7:48 in the third half and a 3-1 in Arizona.
“A little sluggish and slow, but those are the nights where you dig deep and really have to compete and win 1-on-1 battles even when your legs are not with you,” said Couture. “They won more of these battles and we got what we deserved.”
While Jones was playing up to that point, Dvorak’s goal was a backward pull for the Sharks, leaving the goals of Dryden Hunt and Phil Kessel 51 seconds apart 5-1.
Patrick Marleau scored at 7:30 in regular time, but it was too deep for a hole to climb out of Friday.
“I didn’t like our competition in the offensive zone. To be honest, I didn’t like our competition all over the ice, ”said Boughner. “I didn’t think that was good enough for a game like this.
“We weren’t physical enough, we didn’t stop them. We didn’t stop their feet. I haven’t spent enough time grinding it, I call it. We were only successful once in the offensive zone. ”
Now the point is to find a little more energy overnight to develop a clearer and cleaner effort on Saturday to keep the semblance of playoff ambitions alive. The Sharks (13-15-4) remain seven points behind the St. Louis Blues for fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division.
“Nights like this will happen when you’re not feeling well,” said Karlsson. “That doesn’t mean we won’t feel it tomorrow just because we didn’t feel it today. We’re lucky enough to get another bang straight away, we don’t have too much time to think about it, we just have to go out tomorrow and try to find a way to win a game with what we have and what we will bring. ”