Saturday’s frustrating loss came with a glass-half full silver lining: the Sharks penalty kill. San Jose killed six penalties which helped stabilize its woeful penalty kill percentage, but it also means the Sharks ... you know, took six penalties.
We’ve seen games over the last two seasons where penalties have absolutely sunk San Jose’s chances at winning. While the Sharks didn’t give up any goals while shorthanded, it obviously limited their offensive ability. So do the Sharks have a penalty problem? Not quite. Or at all, actually.
Don’t believe me? Good, because otherwise you can pretty much stop reading. Unless you want to make sure it’s safe to send this article to your dad. It’s safe, probably.
The Sharks have taken 23 penalties which is 15th in the NHL this season. That on its own tells you plenty: even in a small sample size, San Jose isn’t anywhere near the top in the league in penalties taken. Add some context and it becomes even more obvious.
If you look at the penalties per 60 minutes, the Sharks rank among the lowest in the NHL. Their mark (3.83 PEN60) puts them sixth in the NHL — much better than the pitiful Calgary Flames (6.37 PEN60), who are the worst in the NHL. The Sharks shouldn’t measure themselves against the Flames, of course, but among the lowest penalties taken per 60 minutes seems just fine to me.
Where the Sharks have struggled is in drawing penalties. San Jose was among the best in the league last year but have drawn very few penalties this season. They’re 25th in the NHL in penalties drawn per 60 minutes (3.9998) compared to eighth a year ago (4.0878). That’s not much of a difference, I realize, and it’s worth noting that 3.9998 PEND60 would have put the Sharks 12th in the league last year.
It’s still early days, so there’s no reason to panic (literally about anything — it’s October, okay?) but that’s something we should keep an eye on this season. For now, we can accept San Jose lost its cool on Saturday against Detroit one too many times at the end of a long road trip without worrying so much about the team’s time in the penalty box going forward.
Let’s get this bad taste out of our mouths tomorrow, eh?