The San Jose Sharks embarked on a three-game road trip north of the border shortly after a home tilt against the New York Rangers.
Here are three takeaways from the Sharks’ road trip in Canada.
1. Defense needs to step up
Sharks goalie Martin Jones stopped 19 of 22 shots he faced in Thursday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers, but he was unable to carry the team on his back. Oilers forward Patrick Maroon shined as he scored the game-tying goal and then his second of the game. The Sharks’ defensive pairs, especially Brenden Dillon and David Schlemko, need to step up their game and break up plays set up by potent offensive players. Dillon has two goals and eight assists in 77 games so far. Schlemko recorded two goals and 14 assists in 58 games.
“We made a few mistakes and they’re opportunistic, especially, obviously, McDavid,” Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer told NHL.com. “A couple of poor line changes in the first, and if he gets any kind of room at all, or you make a mistake when he’s on the ice, it’s got a good chance of ending up in the back of the net, and it did.”
2. Turnovers hurt
Calgary Flames forward Sam Bennett picked up a Sharks turnover in the neutral zone and sent a pass to Johnny Gaudreau, who redirected it to finish a give-and-go. In addition, Aaron Dell sat on the bench late in the third period while the Sharks were skating on a 6-on-4. Flames forward Michael Frolik then swept the puck out of the crease with just under a minute left to maintain a comfortable lead and seal the 5-2 victory over San Jose.
Sharks defenseman Brent Burns told NHL.com: “Everything’s fixable. We’re a great team and we know it. We played like it for 68, 69 games, and in some of these games we’re playing well too. I think it was there…It’s a matter of working through those bounces, working through the reads.”
3. Dell deserves more starts
The Sharks went 1-3 on the road, salvaging their only win against the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 Sunday. Jones was almost perfect, stopping 29 of 30 shots he faced. Although Jones is quite good, he’s not a legend like former New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. The 27-year-old requires rest in order to succeed in the 2016-17 NHL playoffs. DeBoer should give Dell more starts to show off his talents on the ice. Dell is often dubbed as the “World’s Okayest Goalie,” but he’s pretty good as he currently holds a 10-6 record in 19 games started. He can help Jones cut some slack in the final three games of the regulat season.
Sharks close out the 2016-17 NHL season with a three-game homestand against the Oilers, Canucks, and Flames.
Sharks take two out of three games, defeating the Oilers and Canucks.