The San Jose Sharks will be looking for a fresh start in more ways than one when they face the New York Rangers to start a seven-game homestand on Thursday.
Foremost, of course, comes as Bob Boughner moves up from his assistant coaching job to take over for head coach Pete DeBoer, who was fired Wednesday.
The Sharks, fresh off an appearance in the Western Conference finals a season ago, have ridden a roller-coaster season to a 15-16-2 record. Their 32 points are five behind the conference’s second wild-card spot, and the front office decided to wait no longer for improvement.
In announcing the coaching change on Wednesday, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement, “When you have had a level of past success, change is never easy, but we feel this team is capable of much more than we have shown thus far and that a new voice is needed. As a team and as individuals, our play has not met expectations this year and our level of consistency has not been where it needs to be. This group of individuals who will lead our team moving forward are very familiar with our players, and we think this change can provide our group with a fresh start.”
DeBoer’s ouster came after a five-game winless streak (0-4-1), including all four games on a road trip in the Southeast.
The Sharks were outscored 18-5 in those four games, including one goal apiece in the final three games, the last coming Tuesday to the Nashville Predators 3-1. The Sharks were within striking distance late, trailing only 2-1 until a goal in the final minute.
“We had chances tonight. We had breakaways. We had good looks. We had a penalty shot,” captain Logan Couture said after Tuesday’s loss. “It’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to score one because we got one at the end there (that) would’ve tied it up. But we created some good looks.”
In comments to the San Jose Mercury-News, defenseman Brenden Dillon said the team needs “to take the positives that we can” out of the loss.
“We finished pretty strong against a good team tonight. We’ve got five games before the Christmas break and we know we’ve played well at home before,” Dillon said.
The Sharks have been better at home (with a 9-7-0 record) than they’ve been on the road (6-9-2), but the Rangers are likely to arrive with some bite. New York lost 3-1 on Wednesday in Los Angeles to the Kings, who are at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
Despite holding an edge in shots, the Rangers didn’t score until Artemi Panarin’s power-play goal with 31 seconds remaining in the game.
“We didn’t shoot enough,” Rangers left wing Chris Kreider told the New York Post. “I feel like every time I talk to the media, it’s the same thing — we didn’t shoot enough. We didn’t give up a whole lot, and they capitalized on their chances. When they did, they stayed in the structure and played a good defensive, heavy game.”
The loss to the Kings not only snapped a three-game road winning streak, and dropped the Rangers to 1-4-1 against Pacific Division foes, but came on the heels of a 5-0 win over Vegas on Sunday to open a four-game road trip. A win like that is something clubs look to build upon, not lay an egg against a team that had dropped four straight and managed only two wins in its previous nine games.
“It’s just frustration because we thought this was an opportunity to build on what we did the other day,” coach David Quinn said. “This wasn’t a stinker, this wasn’t what we’ve seen before. But not good enough.”
–Field Level Media