Sharks Need to Remember When

By Mary Walsh

Many hockey players say that a short memory is an asset. Let the last game go, win or lose. It is better not to dwell on the past, but sometimes a short memory isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sometimes remembering back before the unpleasant thing that just happened is better than simply forgetting everything as quickly as possible.

Saturday morning, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was asked about teammate Bryan Bickell, who has been in and out of the Chicago lineup lately. Toews said:

It’s not easy for a guy like that. We’re always trying to remind him what he’s capable of doing as a player. I think anyone can forget sometimes, when things aren’t going your way, it just seems to snowball in the wrong direction.

That sounds like something the San Jose Sharks could be saying to themselves and each other after the last few games.

The last time the Sharks played Chicago, Logan Couture was still in the lineup. The Sharks won, in a shootout, with a goal by Couture. Since he left the lineup, the Sharks have won seven of twelve games, including a nice little six game winning streak that recently ended with a three game losing streak. It isn’t a normal three-game losing streak. They went almost three games without a goal, and in the last two losses they lost by three goals. Lady Three is clearly not happy. The Sharks had better find out what she wants and give it to her.

Do the Sharks just miss Couture? They played nine games without him before they completely lost their scoring ability. Why would it take so long for them to notice that they missed him and were incapable of putting the puck in the net without him?

@SharksStats: Sharks with / without Logan Couture: Goals/gm 3.14 / 1.92, Shots/gm 36.1 / 31.8, PP Pct 18.9 / 13.8.

Did someone tell them they should not be capable of scoring, never mind winning, without Logan Couture in the lineup?

Certainly Couture is a very valuable piece of the San Jose scoring machinery, but it is preposterous to think that one guy missing would cause a such a dry spell.

The Sharks are not the only top team that is stumbling right now. Yes, even in the thick of this gaudy losing streak with the double-zeros in the score column, the Sharks are still in the top five or six in the NHL standings. Their neighbors at the top have been having some issues as well.

The Anaheim Ducks have lost two of their last three home games– that home, the one where they were undefeated to the chagrin of stats trackers everywhere– to Winnipeg and Minnesota.

The St. Louis Blues lost to Carolina on Friday, 3-1. Their 7-1 loss to New Jersey still looms large over the subsequent wins. SEVEN to ONE. They will have to win a lot of games to make up for that.

The Pittsburgh Penguins apparently didn’t get the memo that top teams should schedule their most tedious losing streaks for the pre-Olympic time period. Someone should let them know.

Chicago lost four in a row before finally pulling a win out of Vancouver last Wednesday. The four teams they lost to were Detroit, Winnipeg, Minnesota and Calgary.

What is it with Calgary?

In essence, this is a feeding frenzy for teams on the outside of the playoff picture. Dallas, Nashville and even Winnipeg are getting wide-eyed and ambitious.

Is this just a normal let down from the frantic first half of the season? If a team starts well, is it inevitable that they will hit a wall half-way through? Does it have anything to do with the imminent Olympic Games?

Blackhawks veteran and ex-Shark Michal Handzus said:

I thinks it’s coincidence it’s in the same time, … but you cannot go at that ridiculous pace the whole season. Especially Anaheim, St. Louis and us, were playing very well from the beginning pretty much til now. Obviously it happens over the course of the season, … It’s just the schedule is very tough and it’s so many games in a short period of time and it’s going to catch up to you some time.

Two teams in the top six of the NHL standings, as of Saturday, have not snapped out of their funk yet: the Sharks and the Blues. The Sharks have only lost three in a row. Their threshold is higher than that but it would be grand if they could find a way to cut the losing streak short, with or without Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Raffi Torres, or Adam Burish.

Going back to Saturday morning Toews, here is what it sounds like when you get back on track after being embarrassed a few times. Of the team’s recent win in Vancouver, Toews said:

Most of all the guys just really wanted to win that one and we did what we had to do to win. I think going forward we can take a lot of those things that we did and try to implement that on a consistent basis. Kind of remind ourselves of what we were like before this … little skid … try and get back to that same way tonight.