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Quarter Season Review: Home cooking has improved since last season

Sharks have had some poor puck luck, too.

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at San Jose Sharks Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

After Saturday night's 3-2 loss to the rival Anaheim Ducks, the Sharks have now played 22 games, or more than a quarter of their regular season games. While it is still early and there is plenty of hockey to be played, there is a large enough sample to see several trends with this team.

On the surface, the Sharks are doing pretty well. Through 22 games, they sit in second place in the Pacific Division with a 12-9-1 record, good enough for 25 points, just one point behind the division-leading Oilers. has the Sharks at an 82.4% chance to make the playoffs. Micah McCurdy projects the Sharks to end the season with 95.6 points and finishing second in the division behind the Kings.

So far, one of the major differences between this year's team and last year's team is their ability to win at home. Through 10 games, the Sharks have won seven of them; last year's team did not win their seventh home game until January. I would think that some of that is due to more fan support at home after last year's Stanley Cup Final appearance, but I think the real reason is that their play at home last year was dragged down by poor puck luck and generally not being rewarded for playing well.

Still, looking at the Sharks' play as a whole, it's fairly clear that this year's team so far is a bit of a statistical anomaly. They currently sit at 20th in the NHL in goals scored and 23rd in goals for per game, despite being seventh in the league in shots on goal per game. While some have cited a lack of chemistry, the World Cup of Hockey, age, or some sort of Stanley Cup Final hangover for their lack of scoring, the real reason is that their offense is the victim of a criminally low shooting percentage of 7.7%.

Given the amount of talent and depth on the Sharks, I wouldn't expect this to continue for much longer. Granted, the losses of Tomas Hertl and Melker Karlsson aren't helping this number, but players like Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Joonas Donskoi, etc. won't continue to shoot at such a low percentage.

Speaking of shooting percentages, the Sharks are managing to win despite a low PDO (a combination of team save percentage and team shooting percentage) to start the year. While other teams have gotten hot at the beginning of the season by being on the receiving end of a tremendous PDO streak (see: New York Rangers), the Sharks have gotten by with a fairly normal PDO of 99.8.

If anything, it's encouraging to see that the Sharks' play through 22 games is not only sustainable, but should only get better as the season drags on. It doesn't help that the Sharks have been on the receiving end of too many tremendous goaltending performances by opposing goaltenders.

Defensively, the Sharks continue to be one of the NHL's best teams in their own end. The Vlasic-Braun pairing in particular is, in my opinion, one of the best in the NHL right now. The Sharks have been able to shut down opposing forwards easily and it's what is keeping them afloat while their prolonged scoring woes continue. During the game against the Lightning, it seemed like Steven Stamkos was invisible. Same goes for John Tavares last weekend against the Islanders.

While there were some sloppy mistakes made early on, the defense as a whole has been tremendous. Brent Burns continues to be one of the Sharks' biggest threats and one of the league's best offensive defensemen. It's arguable that Burns and Vlasic have been the team's MVP's so far. The bottom pairing is no slouch either, especially with David Schlemko replacing the skating pylon Roman Polak. Brenden Dillon has looked a lot more comfortable defensively with the puck-moving Schlemko than he did last season with Roman Polak.

After some early struggles, Martin Jones has really settled in and reverted back to his form from last season in the past few weeks. It has helped that the Sharks' defense has been that good this season, but he's playing a lot better than he was at the beginning of the season. Currently, Jones is sporting a .917 save percentage, which is respectable for this point in the season. That is right around his career average, so it would be surprising to see a drop-off from there.

One of the biggest concerns about the Sharks heading into the season was the play of backup goalie Aaron Dell. While he only has a small sample of three starts and a relief appearance against the Penguins, his play has been inspiring, if not impressive thus far. Honestly, after watching Alex Stalock last season, nearly anything near average would be acceptable. Again, small sample size, but he has a .931 save percentage so far and his play shows that he deserves more starts as the season goes on. If he continues to play this way, he should be good for 20ish starts this year, but that really depends on how Deboer wants to use him.

Special teams-wise, it's been a mixed bag so far. The Sharks' power play, which is typically one of the league's best, is sitting at 16th in the league, converting on only 17.4% of their power plays. Interestingly enough, much like their 5-on-5 play, the Sharks' power play is much better than it looks on paper. Currently, they sit sixth in the league in expected goals for per 60 on the power play and third in CF% on the power play. Just like their even-strength play, it's just a matter of putting the puck in the net.

On the flipside, their penalty kill so far has been much better than last year, and are currently 10th in the league in PK%, killing 84.9% of penalties. At one point, the Sharks had killed 26 straight penalties, their longest since 2003. When Melker Karlsson went down, the PK took a hit, but with him back in the lineup, it should improve. Given the Sharks' talent and goaltending, the penalty kill should be just fine.

When looking back at the stats, it's scary to think that this isn't even the best the Sharks could be playing. If given a little more luck and few more goals, this team could easily be one of the best in the Western Conference. Now that they have a full season of Pete Deboer's system under their belts, and given their immense amount of talent in both ends, the Sharks are going to be a very good team going forward.