A quick pre-Game 5 mailbag, as the Sharks will attempt to extend their season on Thursday in Pittsburgh…
What’s the deal with [Brenden] Dillon and [Roman] Polak? Seems like the Pens score whenever they're on the ice. (Mike @MikeAlthausen)
There’s no question that the Sharks’ third defense pair is having trouble with the speedy Penguins. I think this was predictable, too – in fact, my very first question to Pete DeBoer on the morning of Game 1 was whether he would give move minutes to his top two defense pairs during the Final to better deal with the Penguins’ attack. “We're not changing anything from what got us here,” was the terse reply.
Has that been a tactical error? I think you can make that case. Those two have struggled.
Keep in mind, though, that Dillon and Polak were both effective during the first three rounds in the heavier Western Conference. DeBoer’s ability to play that pair regular minutes, as well as roll four lines, was a huge factor in the Sharks winning all three of those series. At the start of the Stanley Cup Final the Sharks were outscoring their opponents 29-14 in the third period, and it’s partly because they were continually playing everyone, keeping the team fresh late in games.
I know there is a tendency to pick out the weakest link when things aren’t going well, but Dillon and Polak are hardly the only reason the Sharks are losing this series.
It won't happen, but what do you think about inserting [Dylan] DeMelo, and moving [Brent] Burns up to the top line? (Koty Chapman @KotyChapman)
If we were playing this series in a bubble, then maybe, but you’re right. It won’t happen – at least not Burns moving up front.
One option I wonder if DeBoer is considering, though, is to dress seven defensemen while scratching a guy like Dainius Zubrus or Tommy Wingels, since neither has played much the past two games. DeMelo hasn’t dressed in two months, so I’m not sure how effective he would be, but the Sharks may have to try something drastic here before it’s too late.
As for Burns, he has to be better. Along with Joe Pavelski, no Sharks player has dropped off further from the first three rounds to the Stanley Cup Final than Burns, who is shooting when he shouldn’t be, passing up shots when he shouldn’t be, and making too many bad reads.
Seems like Wingels doesn't mesh well with DeBoer's system, will he for sure be back next year or am I ignorant to what he brings? (Scott Hansen @ShebPressScott)
Tommy Wingels’ role was definitely reduced this season under DeBoer, and that’s partly because of the team’s improved depth. But, you’re right to wonder what Wingels’ future is in San Jose. He’s often been the first guy that DeBoer sits on the bench whenever he’s desperate for offense, including the past two games, and he’s been a frequent healthy scratch over the second half.
If the Sharks did want to move Wingels this summer, I don’t believe it would be very difficult. He has one year left on his contract at a manageable salary cap hit of $2.475 million, and his ability to finish his checks and draw penalties should be of value to another team.
Why’s DeBoer saying Hertl isn't done for the series when he obviously is? (Mitch Benson @mitchbenson33)
I can’t claim to have any inside knowledge about Tomas Hertl’s injury status, other than he did try to skate on the practice day before Game 3. That would seem to suggest his injury isn’t overly debilitating.
As for DeBoer, after covering him for a full year now, I can tell you he’s a pretty up-front, honest guy when it comes to the status of his players. I know it’s the Stanley Cup Final and all, so he’s obviously not going to be as forthcoming as during the regular season, but I wouldn’t completely discount what he’s saying about Hertl. Frankly – and I may be wrong here – but I believe him when he says he’s not counting Hertl out of the series just yet.
Reim time? (YAEL @FINATIC_95Bravo)
No. Typically you leave in the guy who’s been your best player in the series so far, and in this case that's Martin Jones.