San Jose finally saw its offense explode in a much-needed beatdown of the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night and enjoyed a little bit of history to go with it. Joe Pavelski scored twice to reach the 600-point threshold, becoming just the third member of the San Jose Sharks to do so, joining Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton.
Pavelski is 33rd on the active leaderboard in points scored behind Mike Cammalleri (603). It took him 765 games to do so, putting him at .784 points per game right in the prime of his career. The captain has produced well above that mark in recent years as he’s sitting at 0.90 per game this season and has been above 0.85 in each of the past four campaigns.
Beyond the obvious history, the Sharks got a big monkey off their backs last night. San Jose became the 30th team in the NHL to score five goals on Friday night. It took 40 games to get there and despite scoring at a disparate rate the Sharks managed to stay in the thick of the Pacific race thanks to terrific defense.
That wasn’t the case during the three-game losing streak, of course, as David Schlemko and Marc-Edouard Vlasic have been out of the lineup. San Jose needs its offense to click, if only for a while, to sustain its slumping defense. In the four games without Vlasic the Sharks have allowed 13 goals, an average of 3.25 a contest a steep increase over the 2.5 average through 40 games this season.
Over that same span the Sharks also scored 13 goals, mind you, which sits above their 2.75 goals per game average. San Jose needs Vlasic and Schlemko in the lineup to make another deep playoff run, but to be competitive in the Pacific the Sharks can get by with depth players as they did against the Red Wings on Saturday.
While the final score was gaudy, San Jose didn’t put up sexy possession numbers. Even if you adjusting for score, the Red Wings out-possessed the Sharks in Fenwick at even strength according to hockeystats.ca. That speaks to how badly San Jose misses its top two defenders; even against a team as banged up as Detroit is.
Brenden Dillon didn’t get a single offensive zone start and he suffered for it. He posted a -11 corsi with a 0% offensive zone start to go with it while Logan Couture, Mikkel Boedker and Melker Karlsson also found themselves on the negative end of the spectrum. In the short term this isn’t anything to fret about but it goes to show how important Vlasic is to San Jose’s long term success.
For now we can celebrate the Sharks’ losing streak ending; but in the future we’ll need to take a long look at what makes the Sharks successful. More than that, we’ll need to get a better understanding of how that can be enhanced and how their failures can be minimized going forward.