NHL Playoff Clinch: San Jose Sharks

Playoffs are closing in and just 3 teams have clinched a spot. The third team to do so was the San Jose Sharks. Let’s jump in to the Sharks roller coaster season.

The Sharks came out hot with new players to back them up and have made themselves very present in the conversations with other dangerous teams.

The first 10 games were middle of the road for the San Jose Sharks. They began with a record of 5-3-2, collecting 34 goals for (9 PP, 4 SH) and 29 goals against. Of those 34 goals, 9 came on the power play of their 37 opportunities. Another 4 of those goals came shorthanded. As we like to talk about, the Corsi For percentage was 57.1% which is fantastic to start off with. 

Let’s skip forward to the first 42 games, where the Sharks had a record of 22-13-7 (2 games over .500). In that time the Sharks had 145 goals for and 133 goals against. Of those 145, 31 were scored on the power play (of 126 opportunities) with 5 being scored shorthanded.Their puck control decreased a little with the Corsi For percentage going to 55.1%.

Now the Sharks are at 73 games into the season, their record has grown to 43-22-8. The team has collected 261 goals for, with 51 coming on the power play and another 9 coming short-handed. The team has 229 Goals against, 42 are power play goals and only 5 were shorthanded against. The Sharks puck control continued to decrease as the team was waddled on by injuries, leaving them with a Corsi For percentage of 54.4%.

Key Players

Leading the Sharks in goals has been captain Joe Pavelski (37), Tomas Hertl (31), and Timo Meier is tied with Evander Kane for 3rd (27). Assist leaders have been Brent Burns (63), Erik Karlsson (42), and Logan Couture (38).

Sharks’ captain Joe Pavelski has been leading his team efficiently this season. Pavelski has played in 72 games, missing only 2 recently with injury (lower body). In those 73, Pavelski has 37 goals, which is first on his team. Pavelski is also a flexible player in various situations, of his 37 goals, 11 are on the power play and 6 of them were the game-winning goals! Alongside his 37 goals, Pavelski has 26 assists, totaling to 63 points. He has a -1 rating and averages 19:08 on the ice per night. Pavelski is a captain that leads by example and give his heart to his team, he’s been pulling the Sharks up for years with his smart plays and high hockey IQ.

Another vital player to this team has been Brent Burns. Burns has played in all 74 games this season with 13 goals and a whopping 63 assists (1st on the team). Burns has a total of 75 Points (also 1st on the team). Burns has a +/- rating +15. The craziest thing Burns is doing? He’s averaging 25:01 on the ice every night! Burns is just a gritty (not that Gritty) player who is a great two-way defenseman. 

The last player I want to talk about is Joe Thornton. Thornton is a future Hall of Famer that deserves a Cup. In Thornton’s 21 season career, he’s played in 1558 games with 413 goals and 1058 assist (totaling 1471 points).  This season, Thornton has battled injury, playing in 65 games, with 16 goals and 28 assists. With a total of 44 points, Thornton holds a +10 rating. Thornton is an absolute “Rink rat” (Brent Burns words, not mine) and a player to be looked up to. It would be sweet for the Sharks to get him this one last thing, the mother of all awards.

What To Watch

This Sharks team has a lethal power play. They’re converting 24.06% of the time. Their penalty kill is about middle of the pack at 80.28% but that’s still a danger zone to lookout for. They’ve got deadly snipers that keep this teams point total up to where it has been at the past few years.

One fault is the decreased Corsi For percentage over season. They’ve lost some of their puck control which is crucial as a playoff team. Maintaining that puck can make or break how far you do. They have players that have good control skills such as Pavelski and Erik Karlsson, who is out with injury. Once both return I guarantee their play will get cleaned up a bit.

Another weak spot for this team is their goal-tending. Although goaltender Martin Jones has been keeping a nice record of 34-15-5 with a save percentage of .898 and a goals against average of 2.91, their backup, Aaron Dell has had a slower season. He’s sitting at a record of 9-7-3 with 17 starts, a save percentage of .890 and a goals against average of 3.10.

As much as I would love to put my full faith into this team they’ve had some streaky starts and stops that have left me to feel unsure about their playoff future. Just like last year with Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, I’d love to see Joe Thornton and these long-suffering Sharks raise the Cup but the competition is fierce. I can see this team going further into the playoffs but when faced with teams like the Lightning, it may be tougher for them to pull themselves out of that tank.

First To Clinch: Tampa Bay Lightning

Second To Clinch: Calgary Flames

Third To Clinch: San Jose Sharks

Fourth To Clinch: Winnipeg Jets

Fifth To Clinch: Boston Bruins

Sixth To Clinch: Nashville Predators

Featured Image: AP Photo/Ben Margot
Stars from Hockey Reference

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