The Sharks' power play is among the best in the NHL, but for the second-straight round San Jose faces a penalty kill that's every bit as effective. While the Blues employed more of a stationary, zone-based penalty kill, the Penguins appear more active and aggressive while trying to kill off penalties.
First, let's look at the numbers. San Jose scored on 22.5 percent of its power plays in the regular season and is scoring at a 27 percent clip during the playoffs. The Penguins' penalty kill percentage finished at 84.4 and Pittsburgh has killed 83.6 percent of its penalties during the postseason.
Those numbers only tell part of the story, of course. Taking a look at high-danger scoring chances from War-On-Ice.com tells us a bit more about the effectiveness of the Penguins' penalty kill.
Pittsburgh allowed 19.2 high-danger scoring chances against per 60 minutes while shorthanded during the regular season. That puts the Penguins at 13th in the NHL — not spectacular, but a good bit better than the Sharks mark of 23.2 per 60 (26th in the NHL).
You can see Pittsburgh's buble just underneath New York and Tampa Bay up towards to the top left of the chart from War-On-Ice.com. Pittsburgh limited scoring chances against while killing penalties, but also got very solid goaltending while shorthanded.
In the last 25 games of the regular season, both Martin Jones and Matt Murray posted slightly above average save percentages at 5v5 and 4v5. You can see that visualized in the below chart from hockeyviz.com.
Meanwhile, the Sharks created a bunch of high-danger scoring chances while on the power play this season. Only Toronto (I know) and Anaheim created more while on the power-play and the Sharks clinical finishing helped take the team to new heights.
This is a bit of strength against strength matchup. San Jose creates plenty of chances while on the power play while the Penguins limit them at a slightly better than average rate. As far as direct matchups are concerned, I like the Sharks look against aggressive penalty kills over the long haul.
When the Blues struggled the most to kill San Jose power plays they were skating all over the zone, giving the Sharks excellent skaters too much room. While I think the Penguins penalty kill can certainly adjust to the Sharks' style relatively quickly (these are NHL players and coaches, after all) I give San Jose an edge here — even if it's slight.