Phoenix Coyotes Continue West Coast Domination of San Jose Sharks

MJ Kasprzak@BayAreaCheezhedSenior Writer IIMarch 30, 2012

Douglas Murray is day-to-day with a lower body injury at the wrong time
Douglas Murray is day-to-day with a lower body injury at the wrong timeRich Lam/Getty Images

Last week, I wrote about the the San Jose Sharks dominance of teams in the Eastern Time Zone.

Too bad they continue to struggle against teams in the Pacific Time Zone, where most of their division rivals lie. With last night's 2-0 defeat at the hands of the Phoenix Coyotes, teams in the Sharks' zone are 14-3-3 against them.

Okay, Phoenix is not technically in the Pacific Time zone. But because they do not recognize Daylight Savings Time, they do spend over half the year on the same time as San Jose.

(Ironically, they are 1-1-1 while on the same time and 3-0 while not, though two of those wins happened in the same week that the rest of the nation reset its clocks to save energy. The energy savings must feed the Sharks directly: San Jose is 13-8-2 in Daylight Savings and 26-21-8 in Standard Time—exactly 10 percent better).

Only two teams finished more points over .500 against the Sharks than Phoenix (seven): St. Louis went 4-0 and Anaheim went 5-1. Three of Mike Smith's six shutouts were against San Jose.

This team is not mentally prepared to win games by grinding them out. They are one of the lightest hitting teams in the league, out-hit 39-20 in Phoenix. While a team that controls the puck well should be out-hit, that margin is too wide and too typical.

Their inability to grind is why they have a losing record in one-goal games and have been shutout an astounding eight times—five by teams in their own division. They recently broke a 21-game streak of failing to score four goals that was by far longest in the NHL.

The Sharks had a chance to earn the top spot in the division with a win. Instead, the loss dropped them to ninth and out of the playoffs.

They had good pressure all night. The effort was once again there. They attempted 12 more shots and got five more on net thanks to blocking one more—hard to do when you face fewer. They won seven more faceoffs and had one fewer giveaway (equal takeaways).

Unfortunately, they could not beat Smith. The loss would not be so devastating had they not given too little effort in earlier games and lost their margin for error. How long did we hear them openly admit they lacked their opponents' urgency or desperation?

Now they finish the season with home-and-home series against the only two division teams that do not dominate them: San Jose is 3-0-1 vs. Dallas and 2-2 (one win being in a shootout) vs. Los Angeles.

Those are the two teams vying for the division title, so the Sharks can win the division by merely winning those games so long as one against each is over in regulation. But they will also likely need six points to even make the playoffs.

That means getting one win or two overtime losses in the two road games. San Jose has just three wins and three overtime losses in 17 road games since the All-Star break. Other than one win vs. Washington (still possessing the 12th-worst record in the league) and one shootout loss to Dallas, all points came against the nine teams currently at or below .500.

That does not bode well when the teams they face have better records and need the wins just as much.