Sharks vs. Blackhawks: By the numbers

Thearon W. Henderson

A look at the numbers behind the Sharks' 5-3 loss to Chicago.

Even-strength statistics

Player TOI Corsi + Corsi - Corsi +/- Chances + Chances - Chances +/-
Douglas Murray 14:52 23 16 +7 5 6 -1
Brad Stuart 19:08 15 17 -2 4 5 -1
Joe Pavelski 16:28 11 10 +1 2 1 +1
Martin Havlat 13:53 15 12 +3 2 5 -3
Andrew Desjardins 5:13 3 5 -2 0 1 -1
Patrick Marleau 13:55 12 9 +3 1 4 -3
James Sheppard 11:47 18 6 +12 6 1 +5
Dan Boyle 18:59 19 8 +11 4 0 +4
Joe Thornton 16:23 11 14 -3 3 2 +1
Scott Gomez 9:20 8 9 -1 2 2 +0
Michal Handzus 13:41 20 9 +11 6 1 +5
Ryane Clowe 15:37 13 16 -3 3 2 +1
Adam Burish 8:45 6 6 +0 1 1 +0
Logan Couture 11:43 10 9 +1 1 4 -3
Marc-Edouard Vlasic 19:21 12 15 -3 5 3 +2
Matt Irwin 17:07 15 10 +5 2 0 +2
Tommy Wingels 12:34 15 12 +3 5 2 +3
Justin Braun 16:11 18 16 +2 4 4 +0
Team totals 52:44 51 40 +11 13 10 +3
  • Sure, it was mostly due to trailing for the entire third period, but the Sharks had the better of the territorial play in this game by a substantial margin. Regardless of the result, that's a good sign for a team that's had their share of possession struggles so far this season.
  • Credit where it's due: most of that (really, almost all of it) was courtesy a spectacular game by the Handzus line. Their shot and chance differential numbers are sparkling and deservedly so. They were making smart plays through the neutral zone and creating opportunities in the right end of the rink. Of course if Handzus didn't have bad luck, he'd have no luck at all: the one scoring chance against he and Sheppard were on the ice for ended up going in.
  • By contrast, the top two lines were smoked in this one. Thornton was used heavily against the Jonathan Toews line, often lining up against his opposite number in the defensive zone, and was flat-out outplayed. Couture's line wasn't much better and they have less of an excuse, having been deployed in easier minutes.
  • Despite his nightmarish game as far as turnovers were concerned, Braun at least managed to stay on the positive side of the Corsi ledger.
  • In my opinion, these numbers severely overstate Dan Boyle's contributions. He wasn't good and McLellan knew it, primarily starting him in the offensive zone.
  • Meanwhile, the Vlasic/Stuart pairing continues to lose the possession battle at even-strength. Superb positional defense doesn't mean a thing if you can't move the puck the other way. I'm reminded of this Dave Tippett quote about his time coaching the now-defunct IHL's Houston Aeros:

    We had a player that was supposed to be a great, shut-down defenseman. He was supposedly the be-all, end-all of defensemen. But when you did a 10-game analysis of him, you found out he was defending all the time because he can’t move the puck. Then we had another guy, who supposedly couldn’t defend a lick. Well, he was defending only 20 percent of the time because he’s making good plays out of our end. He may not be the strongest defender, but he’s only doing it 20 percent of the time. So the equation works out better the other way. I ended up trading the other defenseman.

    Perhaps it's an oversimplification, but the key for the Sharks is pairing that defenseman capable of spending only 20 percent of his time defending (Boyle or Demers or, when he's back, Burns) with either Vlasic or Stuart.

  • Despite Desjardins getting ejected (for being too awesome, to paraphrase Snark) midway through the second period, Scott Gomez still played about as much at even-strength as he usually does (read: not much). How does that happen?

For more information on what these numbers mean, head here for an in-depth explanation of Corsi and here for more details on scoring chances.

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