Looking at preseason shot differential numbers, because we have nothing better to do

Christian Petersen

With the preseason officially over and time to kill prior to the regular season opener on Thursday, we look at how Sharks veterans and prospects alike performed in exhibition action.

Having an informed discussion about the NHL preseason is always a nearly impossible task. For starters, almost none of the games are televised which makes scrounging for reliable information about player performance in road games particularly difficult. There's also the issue of sample size; players generally don't draw into more than three games apiece, usually against a wide variety of opposing rosters, each with a significant contingent of non-NHLers. But most importantly, everything is made up and the points don't matter. The games are meaningless and it's difficult to begrudge a veteran for not giving it his all in September when he's staring down the barrel of 82-plus meaningful contests over the next nine months.

But since there's nothing else going on before teams announce their final roster cuts tomorrow, I thought I'd take a look at the Sharks' preseason performance by the numbers. Again, these are hardly more meaningful than the games in which they were compiled and I wouldn't draw anything resembling a conclusion based on them. But they aren't available elsewhere and might provide some clues as to coaching staff decisions on who to cut, so why the hell not? As a reminder, Corsi refers to a team's shot differential (including misses and blocks) when a player is on the ice at even-strength. First up, the forwards:

Player ES TOI Corsi For Corsi Against Corsi +/- Corsi +/- per 60 Corsi%
Joe Pavelski 51.13 49 41 +8 +9.39 54.4
Andrew Desjardins 48.92 49 32 +17 +20.85 60.5
Patrick Marleau 52.60 37 53 -16 -18.25 41.1
Raffi Torres 5.48 4 7 -3 -32.83 36.4
James Sheppard 33.57 31 21 +10 +17.87 59.6
Joe Thornton 42.42 39 26 +13 +18.39 36.4
Anthony Stewart 35.73 30 30 +0 +0.00 50.0
Adam Burish 9.35 13 3 +10 +64.17 81.3
Bracken Kearns 62.62 42 47 -5 -4.79 47.2
Matt Pelech 31.25 32 18 +14 +26.88 64.0
Logan Couture 40.27 31 27 +4 +5.96 53.4
John McCarthy 54.63 47 34 +13 +14.27 58.0
Tomas Hertl 59.58 62 42 +20 +20.14 59.6
Brodie Reid 9.68 12 4 +8 +49.57 75.0
Tommy Wingels 63.52 65 58 +7 +6.61 52.8
Daniil Tarasov 8.68 8 3 +5 +34.55 72.7
Rylan Schwartz 15.52 10 12 -2 -7.73 45.5
Freddie Hamilton 44.47 34 37 -3 -4.05 47.9
Eriah Hayes 12.38 9 11 -2 -9.69 45.0
Tyler Kennedy 53.03 54 57 -3 -3.39 48.6
Matthew Nieto 73.4 64 68 -4 -3.27 48.5
Curt Gogol 8.25 4 5 -1 -7.27 44.4
Brent Burns 40.43 42 24 +18 26.71 63.7
  • While Raffi Torres' ACL injury was likely what sealed Tomas Hertl's spot in the opening night lineup, it's not like he didn't earn it with a strong preseason showing. They only played three preseason games together but the early returns on the Hertl/Thornton/Burns line are even more encouraging than when the latter two were first combined with T.J. Galiardi.
  • The surest sign that these numbers aren't to be taken all that seriously: Sir Facepunches-a-lot himself, Matt Pelech, somehow ended up +14 over three games. That probably isn't something the Sharks can ever count on seeing from him in regular season action and he was placed on waivers by the team this morning.
  • Andrew Desjardins and James Sheppard's numbers are intriguing. I really do think they could form 2/3rds of an above-average fourth line as long as the final third isn't Adam Burish. Tommy Wingels would make a great right wing for those two when everyone is healthy but that's nowhere near an option right now. Freddie Hamilton, come on down?
  • It's hard to get all that worked up about Patrick Marleau's gruesome-looking numbers seeing as they're mostly fueled by a minus-17 performance in the Sharks' 5-0 win over Vancouver last Tuesday. He and Couture were hard-matched against the Sedin twins and got crushed but that type of showing is very much out of character for those two.

And the defensemen:

Player ES TOI Corsi For Corsi Against Corsi +/- Corsi +/- per 60 Corsi%
Jason Demers 74.67 65 64 +1 +0.80 50.4
Dan Boyle 59.20 38 47 -9 -9.12 44.7
Scott Hannan 77.23 69 69 +0 +0.00 50.0
Rob Davison 13.85 7 13 -6 -25.99 35.0
Marc-Edouard Vlasic 96.28 84 72 +12 +7.47 53.8
Matt Irwin 87.82 76 68 +8 +5.47 52.8
Nick Petrecki 11.13 17 7 +10 +53.89 70.8
Justin Braun 73.66 69 50 +19 +15.48 57.9
Sena Acolatse 15.95 9 14 -5 -18.81 39.1
Dylan DeMelo 15.37 21 7 +14 +54.66 75.0
Taylor Doherty 14.35 16 13 +3 +12.54 55.2
Matt Tennyson 46.97 53 44 +9 +11.50 54.6
Adam Comrie 15.78 16 12 +4 +15.21 57.1
  • One of the bigger questions facing the Sharks this season is whether Justin Braun can hold up as one-half of the team's shutdown defense pair over a full year. To the extent that these numbers are remotely meaningful, they certainly bode well for the success of that Vlasic/Braun tandem. Vlasic in particular logged a boatload of preseason ice time and acquitted himself extremely well.
  • Given Brad Stuart's injury, Hannan and Demers are likely to begin the year as the team's third pairing which isn't necessarily a bad thing. If they can break even, as they did in the preseason, they'll immediately be a step up over a variety of third pairings the Sharks ran last season.
  • As with Marleau's performance, it's difficult to muster any concern for Boyle's poor numbers. It's the preseason and he's a veteran with a long track record of being a possession monster. Time to move on to the games that matter.
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