They lost 5-3, and dropped the next game to fall to 10th in the standings. There are many reasons that cannot happen again.
The Ducks are the last team the Sharks play that is not a contender for the same spots as they are. That makes it the last game that will not hurt them doubly if they lose it.
That is exactly why Thomas Greiss must start. Antti Niemi has played in 15 straight games over four weeks. Two of those were the second of back-to-back nights and the Sharks lost both of them, with Nemo being pulled in one.
With a game coming up against a rested Phoenix Coyotes, the Sharks need a rested goalie. They are competing with the Sharks for the division as well as a lower playoff seed, making having the best goalie at his best all the more important.
A rested Greiss is a better goalie (8-7-1, .914 save pct. and 2.36 GAA while Nemo is 31-20-9, .914 and 2.44) than a worn-down Nemo. If Todd McLellan insists on putting his No. 1 in, he will end up playing for over a quarter of the season over just six weeks.
We saw that in the playoffs after he played 36 of 37 down the stretch last season. By giving him this last day off, he could end up working just five games over the last two weeks of the season and be fully rested for the playoffs.
Not that this win is not important. San Jose has won three straight and is 6-2-1 in its last nine. The Ducks are 3-5-1 in their last nine, but had been 1-4-1 before playing the Sharks last week.
Of late, the Sharks are putting forth better effort, and if they do again, they should win this game even with Greiss in net. They have a major statistical advantage in every major category but penalty kill, where the Sharks are 28th at 78.6 percent and the Ducks are 15th at 82.1.
- goals scored: 2.66 (13th) vs. 2.47 (23rd)
- goals against: 2.51 (eighth) vs. 2.71 (18th)
- five-on-five play (goals scored per goal against): 1.09 (eighth) vs. .94 (tied for 18th)
- power play: 20.6 (fourth) vs. 17.1 percent (17th)
- shot differential: plus-5.7 (second) vs. minus-1.1 (17th)
- faceoffs: 53.4 (second) vs. 47.2 percent (28th)