The Sharks picked up three out of a possible six points on their three-game road trip through the Pacific Division's western Canadian contingent. Losses to the Canucks (in overtime) and Oilers leave Vancouver and Edmonton three and six points back of San Jose, respectively, though the Sharks have games in hand.
Martin Jones' streak of allowing four or more goals extended to six games, as their defensive struggles continued. But another worrisome trend developed that compounded their issues without the puck.
On the road trip, the Sharks did not have much of the puck.
They were outshot and out-attempted over the last three games, controlling only 46 percent of the five-on-five shot attempts, according to Corsica Hockey. They won the possession battle against Vancouver and Edmonton, but those raw totals are misleading: San Jose chased the game in both instances, trailing by at least two goals in each game.
Of all of the Sharks' recent issues, this is the most alarming. San Jose's been one of the league's best possession teams throughout the season, and puck control is the foundation on which the rest of their game is built.
When they weren't converting their shots early in the season, they still controlled the puck, and largely limited their opponents' shots and attempts. San Jose got good goaltending, too, but their strong defense was built atop their strong possession game.
This problem is compounded by the fact that the Sharks still aren't really scoring at even strength. They only scored five goals during five-on-five play on the road trip, but padded their scoring totals as the recently resurgent power play converted at a 30 percent clip.
The hope was that, as long as San Jose continued to be an elite possession team, the goals would eventually follow. They don't have the scoring talent of teams like Toronto and Winnipeg, who are able to outperform their possession numbers.
That holds true when Logan Couture is in the lineup, and is even more accurate when he's not. He did not play against Edmonton on Monday, and was absent from practice on Wednesday, according toreporters.
Couture's been the Sharks' MVP, but what was San Jose's worst game on the trip in terms of puck possession? Friday's game against the Flames, which was the Sharks' only win of the trip and the only full game in which Couture played.
San Jose's puck possession slide may just be a blip on the radar, rather than the start of a worrisome trend. If it's the latter, and Couture continues to miss time, the Sharks will look back on this stretch of games against divisional opponents as nothing more than a missed opportunity.