Battered and outnumbered, the Sharks are inching closer to the bottom of the food chain.
San Jose lost four key players — defenseman Erik Karlsson, forwards Tomas Hertl and Joonas Donskoi, and captain Joe Pavelski — to apparent injury during Sunday's 5-0 loss to St. Louis in Game 5 on Sunday, leaving the Sharks bench looking bare.
The sight also offered little optimism for the Sharks entering Tuesday's decisive Game 6 at St. Louis, with the Blues in position to close out the series and advance to the Stanley Cup Final, where the Bruins await their opponent after sweeping the Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference finals.
Still, Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon is optimistic about keeping the Western Conference finals going to an all-or-nothing Game 7 showdown Thursday.
"We’ve got enough guys in here that have played do-or-die games," Dillon said, via the San Jose Mercury News. "I feel like this year we want to push it to a Game 7, we’ve had to do that in the past two rounds. We feel comfortable having to do that.
"We’re going to go into a tough building, but we feel confident going in there. We’re going to have to bring our best and ramp it up and I think we’ll be ready for that."
Sharks coach Pete DeBoer didn’t have a health update on any of his injured players Sunday night, though their availability will be closely monitored in the coming days.
When asked if it was a mistake to play Karlsson, who was questionable before Game 5 but played before sitting out the entire third period Sunday, DeBoer discussed the difficulty in having to make those calls.
"Hindsight is 20/20, you know?" DeBoer said. "We make those decisions based on the reports we get from the player and the medical (staff).
"The report was that he felt he could play and get through the game. It’s easy to sit here and say now, 'Yeah, sure you have regrets.'"
The Blues are slated to host the Sharks at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday.