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The San Jose Sharks' Dismal March

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The San Jose Sharks were a team once destined for the President's Trophy. Then came March. At the end of February, San Jose was 40-13-9, and on pace for 118 points. The Sharks were cruising through their schedule and well in front of the division and conference. Since then, they've gone 3-5-1, including five straight losses. Thus far in March they've lost to lower-tier teams Florida, Anaheim, Dallas and Calgary. Something has gone wrong for the Sharks, but what? The always-engaging Gabriel Desjardins blames the team defense, saying "The only thing that's keeping the Sharks in the game is Evgeni Nabokov's high save percentage." But the brutal results in March are a different story.

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Fear The Fin

Vic Ferrari's excellent Time On Ice tool shows that the Sharks have continued to outshoot in March, but the strong goaltending has disappeared. In March, only four players have been outshot - Jed Ortmeyer, Ryan Vesce, Brad Staubitz, and Jason Demers and the latter three are the only ones with a negative Corsi.

A closer look shows that over those nine games, San Jose's goaltenders have only managed a .884 even strength save percentage, a terrible number for a high-level team, and lower than even Devan Dubnyk's .899 for the season. Prior to March, the Sharks goalies kept them in it with a ..934 save percentage at even strength and the Sharks outscored their opponents 129-99 at evens. The Sharks have given up 26 goals in their six losses and 8 goals in their three wins. Their overall save percentage in the losses is a brutal .843 and in the wins .917. This isn't a special teams fluke either, the Sharks have been outscored 23-17 at evens despite outshooting 240-199.

Maybe it's a post-Olympic hangover, but neither Thomas Greiss nor Evgeni Nabokov played a huge number of games and both had a nice rest after being eliminated. So if Gabe's conclusions are correct - that Nabokov has rescued the Sharks this year - this team might be in some trouble if Nabokov collapses down the stretch.