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Ten Game Report Card
Games 31-40 (12/28 thru 1/17)
1/19/2022 - By Mike Lee

We take a look at the Sharks in ten game increments and provide grades over that span. This report covers games 31 thru 40, which were played from December 28th thru January 17th. In that span the Sharks went 6-3-1, which included wins over a slew of mid-pack and basement dwellers, including a pair of wins over the Philadelphia Flyers and a historic win over the Los Angeles Kings.

This 10-game span also included losses to front runners like the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers. The Sharks lost a both games against Pittsburgh in that span.

Here's how the Sharks did over that last 10 games:

Offense Grade: C+

In this 10-game spam the offense scored 33 goals, averaging 3.30 goals per game, which ranked 13th in comparison to other teams in the league. That was a +3 goal increase over the prior 10 game span and it took a 5 goal outburst from Timo Meier to get them there. In the latest 10 game span, Meier, Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture carried the majority of the load (18 goals between the three of them). Alexander Barabanov got off to a nice start, but a trip to the COVID protocol list squashed a big push by the young forward. Of the other regular forwards who are playing, Nick Bonino: 1 goal, Andrew Cogliano: 0 goals, Jonathan Dahlen: 0 goals, Noah Gregor: 0 goals, Matt Nieto: 2 goals, Jeffrey Viel: 2 goals, Jasper Weatherby: 1 goal.

Results - Last 10
7-6 W (SO)
3-2 W
8-5 L
6-2 L
3-2 W
3-2 W (OT)
3-2 W (OT)
3-0 L
2-1 L (OT)
6-2 W
As was the case in the primary 10 game span, the Sharks are getting their scoring from three players.

Their goals per game actually rose .30 goals per game, but, the net output still is nothing to write home about.

Defense Grade: C-

The Sharks surrendered 36 goals (3.60 goals per game), an increase of 9 goals over the same span, which ranked 24th in the league. Granted the quality of opposition got a little tougher this 10 game span, but still, that's a significant increase from the prior 10 games.

The absence of Mario Ferraro and Jake Middleton was felt throughout the blueline. Ferraro's shot blocking ability were gone for 7 of the 10 games. Middleton has missed the last 6 games after suffering a concussion in Detroit.

If the Sharks are supposed to be a defensive first team, they clearly did an about face on that approach. Turnovers has haunted San Jose of late, seemingly fueling most goals they surrender. That problem has not been limited to the younger, more inexperienced players either. Plenty of turnovers have spawned from careless puck handling by veterans and youngsters alike.

Goaltending Grade: C+

Just when James Reimer was establishing himself as the Sharks number one goaltender, he suffered an injury in Detroit, which went on to sideline him for 4 games. Reimer did make 5 starts in the last 10 Sharks games, but the lower body injury clearly disrupted his mojo.

Hill seized the opportunity and turned in much better numbers in his 5 starts. The younger Shark went 3-1-1 in his 5 starts, amassing a 2.24 goals against average (allowing 12 goals in total) and a .922 save percentage.

Reimer by comparison did not have the same success, although the outcome of his performance was an additional loss compared to the OT loss that Hill suffered. Reimer allowed 21 goals (9 more than Hill), which resulted in a 5:06 goals against average on a .863 save percentage.

Looking to the future, Zach Sawchenko got a sniff the NHL while Reimer was out and he rewarded the Sharks by stopping 20 of 21 shots in relief of Hill in Pittsburgh.

Power Play Grade: D+

The power play went 4-for-27 (14.8%), putting them 25th out of the 32 teams in the league. The absence of special team scoring was overshadowed by the slew of short-handed goals that cost them big time in Detroit. They gave up 3, including a pair to a Red Wings team that hadn't scored a short-handed goal in 100 games.

So not only is the power play not cashing in, but it's surrendering goals.

Penalty Kill Grade: C-

Don't let the Sharks overall penalty kill rank fool you. The last 10 games was a disaster from a special teams perspective. The Sharks had been ranked 1 or 2 for the majority of the season. That is until this past 10 games came calling.

San Jose surrendered 6 goals on 25 short-handed chances, a 76.0% kill efficiency. That ranked 21st in the league during that span. So a top 1-2 ranked penalty kill dropped out of the top 10 until they cleaned things up against LA.

Overall Grade: C

When we evaluated the last 10 game span, there were still lots of questions about what the Sharks identity is. Those questions still remain, because of all the injuries and COVID protocol barriers that have impeded San Jose from gaining any ground in the Western Conference standings.

The problem is, there's a key date on the NHL calendar looming. That being the NHL's trade deadline, which is a mere two months away (March 21st). The Sharks have to make a decision on what they will do with Tomas Hertl, who becomes am unrestricted free agent this summer.

But if Hertl is essentially providing 25-30% of the team's scoring and nobody outside of Meier and Couture is likely to fill the void, is it prudent for the Sharks to deal Hertl? It would seem that a move like would set the Sharks back considerably in their rebuild (although Doug Wilson won't admit he's in a rebuild).

Veterans like Erik Karlsson have been vocal in their opposition to a rebuild, so if San Jose shops Hertl, it would likely sour their relationship with Karlsson. So the next 30-45 days will define what happens with the Sharks at the deal deadline. This last 10 games told us little, which has to be frustrating for the Sharks brain trust. It didn't provide any clear insight on which direction then need to take at the end of March. Perhaps this next 10 games will clarify things.



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