Timo Meier has by no means earlier than gone seven video games to start out a season with out scoring at the least as soon as. Tomas Hertl has by no means earlier than gone seven video games to start out a season with out scoring at the least twice.
However that’s what’s each Meier and Hertl are experiencing proper now in a nightmarish first two weeks by the Sharks’ prime two forwards from final season.
A yr after combining for 140 factors, Meier and Hertl have totaled three assists in seven video games. The one purpose they’ve scored between them got here within the first interval of the primary recreation, with Hertl scoring at even energy in his hometown of Prague on Oct. 7 in opposition to the Nashville Predators.
Meier, who had 35 objectives and a ten.7 p.c taking pictures share final season, stays with out a purpose regardless of 29 pictures on web.
Little marvel, then, that the offensively challenged Sharks are off to a 1-6-0 begin after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils, their third one-goal defeat of the yr.
The Sharks end their four-game street journey Sunday night time in Philadelphia in opposition to the Flyers.
“They’re pissed off and typically when guys which are scorers don’t get rewarded or get factors they turn out to be consumed with it,” Sharks coach David Quinn stated.
“Each scorer in some unspecified time in the future goes via a bit little bit of a stoop and sadly our guys are doing it early and collectively.”
The Sharks obtained a sharp-looking second-period purpose from Kevin Labanc and 35 saves from goalie Kaapo Kahkonen, who repeatedly bailed out his crew after a handful of puck administration gaffes by the skaters in entrance of him.
“Once you flip the puck over the best way we did, you’re not in construction defensively, so that you’re going be burnt and that’s type of what occurred,” Quinn stated. “Once you flip it over like that, that’s the place the possibilities come from and that was the core of our drawback from a defensive standpoint.”
Meier and Hertl had been each listed within the NHL’s official stats as having two giveaways every. The Sharks had been listed as having seven as a crew.
Requested if these gamers’ offensive frustrations have led to some dangerous decision-making with the puck, Quinn stated, “that’s precisely what occurs. You need to influence the sport a lot, you need to assist your crew a lot that typically you power issues.”
However since Meier and Hertl – and a number of other others – aren’t scoring, different errors like those that led to the Devils’ two second-period objectives get amplified.
Contemplating the giveaway in their very own zone that led to Yegor Sharangovich’s even-strength purpose, and a reckless goalie interference penalty by Evgeny Svechnikov that led to Dawson Mercer’s power-play purpose, the Sharks have little margin for error with regards to accumulating two factors frequently.
The Sharks have 12 objectives in seven video games, together with solely 9 throughout 5-on-5 play. They nonetheless haven’t scored within the third interval.
“We had been simply too sluggish,” Quinn stated. “We may have performed rather a lot quicker. We may’ve been a bit extra alert and we actually may’ve been extra bodily.”
It’s unfair to position all the Sharks’ scoring woes at Meier and Hertl’s toes. However the paltry offensive numbers are a transparent instance that if these gamers aren’t going, the Sharks have few forwards left to show to for objectives.
Hertl is within the first yr of an eight-year, $65.1 million contract that makes him the crew’s highest-paid ahead. Meier is a restricted free agent at season’s finish, due a one-year, $10 million qualifying supply if he and the Sharks can’t come to an settlement on a longer-term extension in some unspecified time in the future earlier than the beginning of subsequent season.
The typical annual worth of Meier’s subsequent contract might be sizeably bigger than the $6 million his present contract presently options. Seeing as if the Sharks and Meier’s consultant, Claude Lemieux, look like in no rush to finish an extension, the scale of that AAV will doubtless rely upon how this season unfolds.
By this level final season, Meier already had 4 objectives and 4 assists. After seven video games a yr in the past, Hertl had two objectives and an help, because the Sharks obtained off to a decent 4-3-0 begin. Meier had 76 factors final season and Hertl completed with 64.
It might be a problem for both participant to return to final season’s scoring tempo. However the Sharks would seem to have little likelihood to get to above .500 at any level this season except Meier and Hertl at the least come shut.
KAHKONEN’S DAY: Kahkonen, in his third begin of the season, made 18 saves within the second interval, together with a terrific cease on a Miles Wooden one-timer from in shut. Kahkonen entered Saturday with 4.10 objectives in opposition to common and a .814 save share.
“He performed rather well,” Quinn stated of Kahkonen. ”(He) made some big saves, specifically within the second interval the place we had been sloppy and so they had possibilities. He was excellent; gave us an opportunity.”