The goal of getting off to a better start was repeated by the San Jose Sharks before their game against the New York Islanders Tuesday, Nov. 10. Unfortunately, goals of any kind have been hard to come by this 2015-16 NHL season.
The ratio of pictured stars reflects a game in which the Sharks barely tested former teammate Thomas Greiss despite 36 shots (.944 save percentage) and could only match the two goals they gave up in the first 210 seconds over the remaining 3390. That was not enough to earn even a point as the Islanders also scored two goals during that time.
New York’s last goal was against an empty net and the one before it might as well have been: Johnny Boychuk slapped a shot past Alex Stalock from just inside the red line. San Jose’s current backup goalie was in net after starter Martin Jones let in a softy of his own on the second goal of the game.
Greiss may have been the best goalie on the ice, but both goals were from sharp angles and the Islanders insulated him from needing to make any impressive saves. Stalock did come up with a couple of the highlight-reel variety and had the best save percentage (.952) with 16 stops, but the one goal he allowed was backbreaking.
Jones also allowed a juicy rebound to easily one of the top-10 players in the world, but the fact that John Tavares was uncovered in the slot is on his fellow Sharks. The goal that compelled the switch to Stalock came when Mikhail Grobovski scooped up a loose puck and threw it on net from the high slot from nearly 50 feet out.
Even the change in net did not wake San Jose up right away. New York had a 10-3 edge in attempts and 7-2 in shots through the first 8:39 of the game.
The Sharks have now given up at least one goal before the first television timeout in six of their last seven games. They have also given up at least one goal in the first 12 minutes in nine of 15 games of the 2015-16 NHL season.
On top of that, San Jose is not scoring enough since Logan Couture went down before the fourth game of the 2015-16 NHL season. There have been only two dozen goals with the net occupied (27 goals overall), bringing twice as many losses as wins and dropping this team that won its first four games into the bottom-10 point percentages in the league.
CSN Bay Area Insider Kevin Kurz reported Wednesday that Couture will not even resume skating before the end of the six-game road trip that begins Friday in Detroit. That makes his return before December unlikely, meaning the Sharks have at least eight more games without him.
Those struggles and Couture’s absence make the Patrick Marleau trade talk all the more puzzling. He is playing on one of San Jose’s only two effective lines during the 2015-16 NHL season alongside the leading scorer during Couture’s absence (Joel Ward has eight goals, Joe Pavelski seven). The timing is especially puzzling given he is three points away from 1000 all with one franchise—a special and marketable occasion for a team suddenly struggling to sell out every game.
Moreover, Marleau has a no-movement clause and would have to approve a trade. Kurz reported Tuesday that the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and New York Rangers are the only three teams on his list.
California teams are probably on Marleau’s list because of proximity to the only city he has called home as an adult, but the Sharks are unlikely to trade with a Pacific Division rival. The Rangers being on that list is a little puzzling given their cap troubles mean they not only would have to move money for an aging player, but the 2015 Stanley Cup was their best shot.
San Jose cannot afford to trade a scoring-line forward while lacking secondary scoring unless it is giving up on the 2015-16 NHL season. If the bad starts that lead to losses do not stop soon, giving up could be on the table by the time Couture returns.