Sharks Among but not Controlling the NHL's Elite

Christian Petersen

The Sharks continue to be a team that performs very well against almost all teams in the NHL, except for the elite.

A couple of years ago I decided to break apart the team's performance by their opponent's strength. The objective was to get a better understanding of how the Sharks performed against playoff caliber teams.  While it's nice to continue to rack up points against teams that the Sharks should beat, it's their performance in the 2nd season that matters. For the Sharks organization and many fans regular season success is hallow. Each year the team is (although probably unfairly) judged by its post-season success or failure.

What might strike you as one of the most consistent Sharks team in both scoring and possession (but not injuries) might lead you to believe that this years team is different.  Maybe it's the younger players like Braun, Nieto, or Hertl stepping into a role.  Or the continued (slow) progress of MEV. A quick glance through some of the now plethora of adv. stat sites validates the eye-balls.  Their Fenwick% is up, and their Shooting% is up as well.

Let's again delve a little deeper into those predictive measures of winning to try to get  look at how the sharks are playing against the truly elite.


I compiled game-by-game 5v5 score close data from I then used a shitload of "=sumifs" and "=countifs" to group the data by opponent ranked Fenwick For% and the categories of interest (eg. goals, shots, fenwick, corsi).


Table 1. This is a table of how the Sharks have performed against each of the teams listed in the rows. The raw data if you will.

Sharks Adjusted Performance by Opponent

Opp FF% Rank %TOI Home TOI Adj CF% Adj FF% Adj SF% PPG
Canucks 7 51% 99.3 49.49% 45.72% 46.57% 1.50
Blues 4 14% 15.1 80.69% 91.73% 98.87% 2.00
Stars 10 46% 87.6 47.33% 45.70% 39.74% 1.50
Wings 12 0% 50 39.72% 39.94% 47.91% 2.00
Bruins 6 0% 55.5 64.48% 65.49% 72.54% 0.00
Canadiens 18 0% 29.7 59.74% 58.28% 56.88% 2.00
Senators 16 63% 59 52.56% 58.59% 63.53% 2.00
Kings 2 39% 95.4 46.26% 48.77% 50.18% 1.00
Jets 22 0% 26.2 39.12% 40.82% 32.98% 1.00
Flames 28 37% 42.5 69.61% 71.52% 71.71% 2.00
Oilers 25 0% 12.4 49.17% 60.28% 65.84% 2.00
Blackhawks 1 0% 33.7 43.02% 48.88% 43.02% 0.00
Leafs 29 0% 25.3 72.50% 70.46% 64.41% 2.00
Penguins 5 0% 20.6 47.17% 42.68% 40.26% 0.00
Hurricanes 26 0% 27.1 46.48% 45.86% 45.86% 0.00
Wild 14 24% 31.8 67.13% 68.17% 69.60% 1.00
Predators 17 0% 34.5 52.00% 52.00% 52.00% 0.00
Coyotes 19 100% 46.6 59.14% 58.92% 62.00% 1.50
Rangers 11 100% 23.7 73.00% 76.57% 79.48% 2.00
Sabres 30 100% 38.5 48.62% 44.55% 45.83% 1.00
Lightning 9 100% 13.6 62.68% 62.25% 63.82% 2.00
Devils 8 100% 14.8 69.86% 74.22% 77.00% 2.00
Ducks 13 100% 30 52.88% 50.65% 48.43% 2.00
Islanders 21 100% 28.7 66.62% 69.39% 68.67% 1.00
Avalanche 20 100% 36.5 64.83% 68.08% 64.97% 2.00
Sharks 3 57% 978.1 54.24% 54.77% 55.03% 1.41

(updated 12.26.2013 at 9:30 PM PST)

FF% Rank: The current teams 5v5 score close, fenwick for% rank. TOI: Time on Ice. %TOI Home: proportion of time that the sharks have played this team at home. Adj CF%, AdjFF%, adjSF%: Proportion of shots (Corsi, Fenwick, or SOG) directed at the opposing net, adjusted for TOI spent home or away (apprx +/-2%) PPG: Standings points per game accrued.

Figure 1. Time spent 5v5 with the score close (within a goal in the first and second, tied in the third) by opponent Fenwick% rank.


Table 2. The Sharks performance (Corsi, Fenwick, and Shots on goal) split by fenwick% rank of the opponents.

Sharks Performance by Group Ranked Opponents

Opp Rank TOI % of Total TOI %TOI Home Adj CF% Adj FF% Adj SF% PPG
Top 5 164.8 16.85% 11.11% 31.47% 33.43% 33.40% 1.13
Top 10 435.6 44.54% 36.55% 51.46% 51.33% 51.23% 1.29
Mid 10 341.8 34.95% 53.19% 56.99% 56.99% 56.99% 1.58
Bot 10 200.7 20.52% 41.41% 58.07% 58.07% 58.07% 1.38
Bot 5 133.4 13.64% 40.78% 59.60% 59.60% 59.60% 1.40

(updated 12.26.2013 at 9:30 PM PST)

Figure 2. Graphical version of table 2.


There is a consistent downward trend as the Sharks play better teams. If we micro-analyze the 2 tables we can say that the Sharks have gained a few more points from the basement dwellers than in years previous and performed worse against the NHL's elite. But they have performed slightly better against the "Top 10" and "Mid 10" groupings than previous.


The Sharks performance against the "Top 10" is encouraging, as those teams are truly playoff caliber.  The change from the 2011-2012 season (I haven't looked at last year) shows improvement, a change from about a 49% fenwick team to a 51%.  2% isn't a huge deal in the long run, but in such a tight league, 2% can make a difference. As it stands right now, that approximates the difference between teams such as the Jets, Coyotes, Predators and the Wild, Ducks, and Red Wings.

The lack of success in the deeper rounds of the playoffs continues to be the Sharks albatross. Again we see a trend that shows the Sharks struggling against the NHL's elite.  They've played a decent, but not huge amount of time against the NHL's top 5, and have largely been buried outside of the St. Louis Blues.  Playing approximately 90% of that (5v5 score close) time on the road probably complicates things, and it will be interesting to look at this year end to see if things tightened up at home.

Although it's great to conjecture about these numbers, I have't conducted a full study to see if there is actually any utility in breaking down the numbers this way.  Common sense would suggest that teams that play well against  playoff caliber teams are more likely to advance in the playoffs, but I would think that's far from a given.

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Fear The Fin

You must be a member of Fear The Fin to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Fear The Fin. You should read them.

Join Fear The Fin

You must be a member of Fear The Fin to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Fear The Fin. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.