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5 Reasons: Why Sharks were eliminated

Inability of Brent Burns to score, injuries, power-play woes led to San Jose losing in first round

by Eric Gilmore / NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- One year after reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history, the San Jose Sharks made a quick exit from the postseason.

The Edmonton Oilers defeated the Sharks in the Western Conference First Round, winning the best-of-7 series 4-2.

San Jose pushed the Pittsburgh Penguins to six games in the Final last year and hoped to take the final step and win the Stanley Cup this year. Instead, the Stanley Cup Playoffs ended for the Sharks with a 3-1 loss to the Oilers in Game 6 on Saturday at SAP Center.

Here are 5 reasons the Sharks were eliminated:

 

1. UNTIMELY INJURIES

Joe Thornton and Logan Couture, San Jose's top two centers, were not 100 percent healthy for the playoffs after sustaining late-season injuries. Couture was hit in the mouth by a deflected Brent Burns shot on March 25 against the Nashville Predators and missed the final seven regular-season games. Although he lost multiple teeth and had extensive dental work, Couture didn't miss a playoff game, but had two goals and one assist. Last season, he led all scorers in the playoffs with 30 points (10 goals, 20 assist).

Thornton injured his left knee on April 2 against the Vancouver Canucks and missed the final three regular season games and first two playoff games. He had no goals and two assists.

"We had some guys who had some heroic courage in playing in this series," coach Peter DeBoer said.

 

2. GAS TANK EMPTY

The Sharks made a long run last season, playing 24 games, and many of their top players also played in the World Cup of Hockey 2016 prior to the season. That short offseason appeared to catch up to the Sharks late in the season, as they squandered a big lead in the Pacific Division; The Sharks had a nine-point lead over the Anaheim Ducks on March 14, but lost six straight games and eight of nine, all in regulation and wound up finishing third in the division without home-ice advantage in the first round.

"My gut feeling is we ran out of gas in the last month," DeBoer said.

 

3. POWER-PLAY OUTAGE

The power play fizzled during the regular season (16.7 percent, 25th) and did little damage in the playoffs. The Sharks went 5-for-26 (19.2 percent) on the power play against Edmonton, and four of those goals games came in Game 4 on eight opportunities. They were 1-for-18 in the other five games. Edmonton took a combined 14 minor penalties in the first three games, but the Sharks only scored once.

Video: EDM@SJS, Gm4: Couture sweeps PPG past Talbot in 1st

 

4. LACK OF DEPTH SCORING

A big reason the Sharks had a long run in the playoffs last season was that they got goals throughout the lineup. Joel Ward had seven goals, Joonas Donskoi and Tomas Hertl each had six, and Chris Tierney and Melker Karlsson each had five.

Against Edmonton, the Sharks had no goals from Hertl, Tierney and Donskoi and one each from Ward and Karlsson.

Video: SJS@EDM, Gm2: Talbot guards his cages amidst traffic

 

5. LIMITING BRENT BURNS

Burns often carried the Sharks during the regular season, leading them in points (76) and assists (47) and tying Joe Pavelski for the lead in goals (29). Burns led NHL defenseman in goals and points but in the playoffs had no goals and three assists.

The Oilers zeroed in on stopping Burns. He never broke loose, and San Jose rarely made Edmonton pay for focusing on Burns.

Video: EDM@SJS, Gm6: Talbot absorbs Burns' long slapper

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