That game in the press box woke up Joonas Donskoi, right? That’s how the narrative will go if he scores 10 goals in the next 20 games; not that it matters, of course. Donskoi played well to start the season and his two goals on Tuesday night were inevitable, not the result of a stern talking to and a benching, but it doesn’t really make a difference.
Donskoi scored two nifty goals against the Flames on Saturday and is now scoring at a pace of 0.12 goals per game. For those who don’t have hockey-reference.com hand, that’s just a shade below the 0.14 he notched in his rookie season. That sophomore slump really started to wear on the team, right?
Looking at points and goals is a natural but incomplete way to evaluate any player, especially when there’s so much more data available. Donskoi’s two goals against Calgary are just about all you need to say he had a good night, but leading up to Tuesday’s contest his advanced stats tell you a lot about his value to the team (hint: it’s pretty darn high).
Joonas Donskoi leads the Sharks in individual expected goals per 60 minutes according to corsica.hockey. That means the site’s model, based on a variety of factors, expected Donskoi to lead the Sharks in goals per 60 minutes at this point of the season. He’s 12th amongst San Jose players with at least 50 minutes.
Need more? He’s eighth on the Sharks in relative fenwick-for percentage, meaning San Jose is generally better when he’s on the ice than when he’s off it. Donskoi is fifth in expected goal-for percentage and third in relative corsi-for percentage. The Finn is having a fantastic year even if the goals aren’t coming.
That’s been the Sharks’ story this season. All the creation in the world hasn’t led to scoring, but excellent team defense has kept San Jose afloat. Donskoi isn’t alone among San Jose players who are in a scoring funk despite playing well; Mikkel Boedker is another player who’s doing everything but score.
There was not such scoring problem on Tuesday as the Sharks feasted on a Calgary team facing a difficult back-to-back situation. The Flames played on Monday night in Glendale against the Arizona Coyotes before flying to the Bay Area to take on the Sharks. That showed in the second period as San Jose poured it on against the tired legs of the Flames.
All four of the Sharks’ goals in the second stanza came at even strength and it took an early goal in the third period for Calgary to keep the game interesting for those still in attendance at SAP Center. That, and those on Donskoi hat trick watch, of course.
That hat trick didn’t come, nor did another San Jose goal. The Sharks took sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division and get a few days off before hosting Todd McLellan and the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night.