San Jose Sharks vs. Anaheim Ducks: Antti Niemi Returns, Scoring Does Not

MJ KasprzakSenior Writer IIOctober 18, 2011

Antti Niemi did not look rusty in his first game of the season
Antti Niemi did not look rusty in his first game of the seasonThearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The San Jose Sharks have played their last home game of October. Fans can only hope to see a better team when they return.

In the last two losses, the team seemed to be going through the growing pains of having one in three skaters replaced from last year's Western Conference finals team. However, this loss was different.

The Sharks had only three more giveaways than the Ducks even though they held the puck for most of the game. San Jose had an edge of nine faceoff wins and five takeaways and this time they made the most of it, with 93 shots attempted and as many on net as their foes attempted with 43.

Trouble is they still only managed two goals. San Jose had six goals through two periods in the season opener and has four in the next 10.

Dan Ellis played extraordinarily in net, carrying a .953 save percentage. One goal was off the foot of one of his defenders and the other happened while trying to kill a five-on-three penalty.

Antti Niemi came back for his first contest in five months, after leaving due to a necessary cyst removal. Unfortunately, his save percentage is a statistically poor .864.

The Sharks continue to give up higher-quality chances. They fail to get enough of them.

Again, San Jose gave up a goal after a bad turnover. That was the difference in the game.

Meanwhile, many Sharks shots were from near the point. They could not put home loose pucks when they got to them. Several prime chances were lost by failure to corral or redirect a puck.

In other words, the puck was put where it needed to be and new linemates were on the same page as one another. They just could not close the deal.

In sales, everything is about the close. Sure, you have to have a good product. That is like the coaching systems out there as there are plenty of good ones.

You have to be able to get someone's attention. That is like skaters, as there are plenty of people who can skate well.

What makes Joe Pavelski more valuable to a hockey club than Dan Jansen is that Pavelski can score. That is like the salesperson who can close the deal and get the credit card or signature.

The Sharks need people to do that and right now those people are not apparent. Players that this team is counting on are not coming through and that has to change as they embark on a two-week, six-game road trip to the Eastern Time Zone this Wednesday.