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Behind the Numbers: A look at the season series between the Sharks and the Western Conference Playoff Teams

I did a bit of a breakdown looking for insights into strengths and weaknesses in the matchups between the Sharks and the various Western Conference Playoff Teams. This is intended as a companion to Plank's most recent writeup.

Click here for the fancy schmancy spreadsheet. The series is broken down as follows. Each game is summarized by goals, shots and special teams figures. The first three columns are Goals For: Even Strength, Power Play and Short Handed. The next column is Shots on Goal For, followed by the PP stats, both Raw and %. The next set of columns are for the opposition. Goals Against: Even Strength, Power Play and Short Handed. Then Shots on Goal Against, and Raw and % stats for the Penalty Kill.

Empty Net goals are not counted, nor are shootout goals. Where applicable, they are indicated. This is a pure numbers breakdown for the moment, compiled by game stats available on SBNation. I may delve further and try and breakdown individual goal scorers and +/- later, depending on how much time I have (or someone else here is welcome to do so).

The point of this is just to try and get some general insights into what the Sharks do well against these teams, and what their weaknesses might be. I'll be quoting the numbers in the spreadsheet. I'm too lazy to copy and paste every tab into this post, so I'll just give my personal insights into the numbers from each team below.

CHICAGO

Well, by virtually everyone's reckoning, Chicago is the class of the West, standings notwithstanding, and has been all season. We're 1-3 against them. No games have gone to the shootout, so the record is apt.

First, let's find some positives. The biggest thing is the PK's 100% record against Chicago. In the 3 losses, the Sharks were a perfect 2/2 each game shorthanded. Keeping Chicago's Power Play off the ice is definitely part of their recipe for success. In their win, they were 7/7. That particular number is largely credit to the brilliance of Evgeni Nabokov in stealing that game, as the Sharks were outshot 47-14. Chicago will likely rue the ineffectiveness of their very lethal PP in that game as it's all that stood between them and a regular season sweep of their nearest competition in the West.

Now the bad. There's a lot of it unfortunately. In each of the 3 losses, the Sharks did get a PP goal. For the season, they were a mere 3/18, good enough for just under 17%. And by good enough, I mean it's not good enough. That number has to be 20% or above if the team has any hope of running with Chicago in a best of seven. The 18 penalties drawn is very respectable, but it would be nice if it could be higher. Overall, the number of penalties taken by both teams is low. Both are obviously very disciplined against one another. Which means the game comes down to who is better 5 on 5. And well, the Sharks were outscored 13-7. Yes, there was that 7-2 debacle, but 4 of those goals were short handed. The Sharks were still outscored 3-1 that game at Even Strength.

Put simply, Chicago's 5 outscored San Jose's 5 by almost 2-1.

Outside of the game we all want to forget, Nabokov has been decent against Chicago. And outside of the game that never happened, the offense has been respectable, netting 3 goals a game. Maybe there isn't that much that separates the two teams from each other, and the matchup may be closer than we think, but at 1-3 for the season, that little bit looks like quite a lot.

 

DETROIT

I feel like throwing up a bit just typing Detroit.

Anyway, the good. Only 11 goals against. In the first two games, only 3 total penalties taken. In the first three games, respectable shots for totals.

The bad. Ugh. Well, there's that goose egg on the PP. Detroit has only taken 10 penalties against. Considering in the early part of the season how many injuries Detroit had and how vulnerable they were, not drawing more penalties is a missed opportunity. Even strength scoring overall, 8-6 Detroit. The 12 penalties in games 3 and 4, which resulted in 3 goals, is very troubling. Nabby didn't let too many softies in, but in games 2 and 3, there were many times when we simply needed an Elite Olympic Caliber Goaltender, and Nabby was merely good.

When it comes to Detroit, yes, the officiating is biased, yes we have a block about winning at the Joe, yes they're the g-d*** f***ing RED WINGS, but you know what, SO WHAT. You remember the Blackhawks commercial about starting new traditions where Kane shot the octopus? That's the attitude we need. Dig in and get it done. Detroit isn't all that big. You just have to push them around. Don't be distracted by the red and the banners in the rafters. We're bigger, we're stronger, and when we play our game, we're better. No one believes us when we say that because we don't prove it enough. So, play with a chip on your shoulder and F*** DETROIT!

 

VANCOUVER

Only one game played. 3 to be played in the next month and a half. We'll revisit this later. Suffice to say, we liked game 1.

 

PHOENIX

5 of 6 games played. And boy, what a series it's been. 3 of 5 games have gone to the shootout.

The good: Only 7 goals allowed in 5 games. The Power Play could be better, but it's been timely. Only 1 PP goal allowed. Shot totals are generally even and respectable. Like I said, what a series it's been.

The bad: Only 8 goals scored. Power Play is 3/19. 28 penalties taken. Phoenix is a disciplined trap team, classic Dave Tippet. They don't score many goals. But somehow, they got us to take 28 penalties. If their power play was clicking at even 15%, they'd blow us out of the water. By comparison, we only had 19 power plays. Phoenix is outworking us. Hard Work beats Talent when Talent doesn't work hard. We've done okay so far, taking 2 of 3 in the skills competition. Do we want to tempt fate in a 7 game playoff series with this? I'd be hesitant unless the team plays a bit more disciplined and dictates the game a bit better.

 

NASHVILLE

Don't let the last game fool you. This is another incredibly even series. Throw out Jay Leach's empty netter. Now, take an extreme hypothetical here: Nashville's waived off goal stands, and Manny Malhotra's goal is disallowed. What a different game that is. And don't discount the magnitude of Manny's goal. The team seized the momentum starting from that goal. But even just tossing out the empty netter and flipping those two goals, that game is 7-6. The Sharks were outshot in the first two periods of that game 17-6 and 17-5. Like I said, Manny's goal was HUGE. As was the called off goal for Nashville, and there are arguments to be made that both calls should have gone the other way. Just sayin'.

Anyway, the good: 13-10 in favor of the good guys on Even Strength Scoring. Only 13 penalties taken in 4 games. Decent. Respectable shot totals for. And the third period of game 4. Also, Joe Pavelski.

The bad: 8/13 on the PK. That's just plain not good enough, especially if you've managed to outscore the opposition at ES. Only 10 penalties drawn. It's a very disciplined series overall, and a credit to Barry Trotz, but you'd definitely like to see the Sharks take it to Nashville a bit more and draw more penalties. An area for improvement. Also, periods one and two in game four simply CAN NOT HAPPEN. 17-6 and 17-5 shot totals? For one game in the regular season, okay. in the playoffs? No thank you. Simply put, I know we have a history with this team, and they're always tough to play against, but we have to put some more daylight between us and them. It'd be an entertaining series, but give me boring any day of the week.

 

COLORADO

Another incomplete series with 2 games upcoming. 1-1. First game, let's forget about. Second game, good effort. We want more of it. Good measuring stick for the team. Looking forward to those games.

 

CALGARY

One of those two games is not like the other. 2 more games to come. The team will look very different the next time we play them. Another incomplete.

 

LOS ANGELES

What a murderous first round draw they would be...

The Good: When our Power Play is going, it's going. When our PK is going, it's going. When Nabby is going, he's going.

The Bad: Yikes, when our Power Play ISN'T GOING, it's REALLY not going. Throw out Game 1 and Game 6, and we were 3/17. On the flip side, the PK was 20/26. There are 3 perfect PK games in there. In the other 3, 8/14. Clearly, winning the special teams battle is a key in this series, game 1 not withstanding. Speaking of game 1, timely goaltending is also a key. Nabby was great in games 2, 5 and 6. Games 1, 3 and 4... not so much. Consistency is key, and the Sharks have not been consistent in all aspects of their game against LA. We can beat LA, but we have to be cleaner, more disciplined and more consistent. Fewer penalties taken, and more consistency on the Power Play.

 

Well, all in all, we have lots to build on. The Sharks have some flaws, but they are not the same flaws against every team. The point has been belabored to death, but the team simply needs to be consistent. There's not team they can't beat, no goaltender they can't beat. It's all a question of whether or not the team shows up. So, game on boys.

 

GO SHARKS!

This item was created by a member of this blog's community and is not necessarily endorsed by Fear The Fin.

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