No matter how many years the Sharks demonstrate strong power play ability on the ice, hands in the Silicon Valley are wrung until chaffed digits begin to hit the floor. So for what feels like the thousandth time since I started writing about the Sharks: no, it is still not time to panic about the power play.
That doesn’t mean we can’t be frank about the results. The results have been: bad. The Sharks are converting at a 15 percent clip which is 17th in the NHL through six games. That’s not good, particularly not by the Sharks’ lofty standards, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
As a lover of numbers, I can show you a handful of statistics that suggest San Jose remains an elite power play team. At the same time, trust your eyes. Beyond not scoring, has the power play looked much worse to you than it did last year when it finished in the top five in the NHL?
It hasn’t looked worse to me at all. And no, “not finishing chances” doesn’t really sound like a valid criticism to me. Given what we know about the variance in shooting and save percentage, it’s more likely the Sharks have been unlucky than it is that they’ve suddenly forgotten how to tickle the twine.
Now for the numbers. According to corsica.hockey, the Sharks xGF60 while on the powerplay is 10th in the NHL. They’re generating the 13th most corsi per 60 in the NHL and their shots per 60 is also in the top 10.
None of that accounts for the quality of chances, either. The Sharks are sixth in the NHL in High Danger Scoring Chances per 60 while on the power play (according to naturalstattrick.com) which sounds pretty darn good to me. Last year San Jose finished fifth in that category, and since I absolutely know I need to remind you, the team was third in power play percentage.
More concerning is the Sharks’ penalty kill which has both looked bad and been bad. Their penalty kill percentage of 78.9 percent is 20th in the NHL and it was the lone bright spot in a dour game against Detroit on Saturday night. It’s unlikely it’ll ever be elite, but it would be nice to see some improvement in that area going forward.
So let’s move on. A 2-3 road trip isn’t the worst thing in the world and now the Sharks return home to take on Anaheim on Tuesday. A couple days off will do all of us some good, I think. The Sharks power play is fine. Promise.