There was speculation ahead of the 2019-20 season that the Sharks weren't going to score as many goals as they did last season. Just 12 games into the season, that problem is a regular theme in many of San Jose's games.
Following a 5-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators, the Sharks are being outscored 43-31 through 12 regular-season games. They're ranked fourth in the league with 3.58 goals-against per game and ranked 24th with 2.58 goals-for.
Even with better goaltending and the defense tightening up their game, the Sharks still aren't making good decisions or executing properly. And according to captain Logan Couture, no player is without blame as the offense struggles to finish plays.
"That's been a story this season, we aren't finishing," Couture told reporters at Canadian Tire Center, putting some of the blame on himself. "I can't be sitting at one goal right now. Tommy (Hertl) is at three, Timo's at two. We've got to score some more goals. We're at 12 games in and I can't be sitting at one goal."
The captain isn't pointing fingers necessarily, although he does make a valid point. He, along with the rest of the Sharks big scorers, are having trouble finding the back of the net with regularity.
There are, unfortunately, multiple factors at play here. Decision-making is just one of the reasons this problem persists, which has resulted in costly turnovers. The other is difficulty establishing a constant forecheck -- which, as we've seen through San Jose's wins so far this season, makes a huge difference in their scoring. When the team really grinds to win battles and takes the ice away from the opponent, they have a much better chance of keeping the score in their favor.
Another issue, Couture said, is trying to do too much with the puck.
San Jose Sharks
"Maybe when you're tired on a shift, chip it out and take the safe play," Couture suggested. "I think that's what's costing us right now. The safe play is there and we're not making it. We're trying something a little fancier and it's biting us right now."
At 12 games into the season, the Sharks really do need to cut down on making those mistakes on such a regular basis. They've played some strong offensive games, like in their win over the Montreal Canadiens last week. But the trouble with execution around the enemy's net is a problem from their four-loss start to the season that is hanging around in the Sharks' game, especially at five-on-five.
Let's face it. Having better goaltending and a dominant penalty kill doesn't make up for the fact that San Jose needs to score more goals.
The Sharks aren't catching any breaks after that tough Sunday loss to a sub-par team. San Jose closes out its East Coast road trip on Tuesday in Boston against the Bruins, who are currently one of the best teams in the league sitting at 8-1-2. If a team like the Senators can make the Sharks pay for their lack of offensive execution, what's going to happen when they face a team like the Bruins?
Even with problems looming and the tough task ahead, Couture insisted the team's scoring woes aren't from a complete lack of trying.
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"I don't think guys are going out there not trying, I think guys are trying as hard as they can," he said. "Giving it everything they can. It's just mistakes. Mental mistakes. When you get out on a shift -- tired mistakes. I think that's hurting us a little bit right now. But it's definitely not lack of effort."
Now the Sharks need to turn that effort into more goals.