The first shootout appearance for the 2013-14 San Jose Sharks did not end well. The Dallas Stars outscored the Sharks in the shootout 2-1, handing San Jose its first loss of the season by a final score of 4-3.
Effects from the loss of defensive captain Dan Boyle can already be felt by the team. The San Jose defense allowed 31 shots on goal, the most the team has given up this young season. Antti Niemi simply could not keep up with the high volume of shots coming his way — he allowed twice as many goals as he had averaged through the first six games.
It was pretty evident that this San Jose defensive corps is missing Boyle mightily so soon after his injury. Its porous play led to the an onslaught of shots on goal by the Stars, setting a new season-high for Dallas. It’s not all bad news for the Sharks concerning Boyle, however. He was reportedly feeling completely fine today after undergoing multiple tests. He has no memory loss nor dizziness. Still, there is no timetable for his return.
With Boyle out for who knows how long, the rest of the San Jose defense is going to need to step up to help keep the pressure off Niemi. There isn’t one name in particular that needs to show up at a higher level against the Calgary Flames on Saturday — a collective improvement will be needed from all the defensemen. Justin Braun took Boyle’s spot on the first line, but he can’t be the only one to blame.
Perhaps manager Todd McLellan will re-think moving Brent Burns to the forward position now that Boyle is gone. That would be quite desperate, though. In any case, the Sharks can’t count on Niemi to be perfect.