By the numbers: Game 32 vs. Nashville
Scoring chances, zone exits, zone entries and more from the Sharks' 2-0 win over Nashville.
[Ed. note: By popular demand (okay, like four people asking about it on Twitter) we're bringing back morning-after stats-heavy recaps of every game. We're lucky enough to have Jake Barrow tracking games for us and he'll have full game-by-game breakdowns of scoring chances, zone entries, zone exits and neutral zone defense going forward. For a review of what exactly these numbers mean and how they're derived, read this post.]
Complete scoring chance summary
|Home||1||15:01||Hertl from Pavelski, save||4||8||19||31||48||88||4||14||15||21||24||35||5v5|
|Home||1||14:27||Karlsson from Sheppard, save||15||31||44||68||88||89||3||7||12||15||20||35||5v5|
|Away||1||13:11||Neal from Forsberg, miss (5v4 PP)||8||12||31||44||61||6||9||12||18||35||59||4v5|
|Home||1||11:51||Pavelski from Tennyson, miss||4||8||10||31||48||80||3||4||15||33||35||63||5v5|
|Home||1||10:32||Sheppard from Karlsson, save||4||15||31||68||88||89||6||13||19||33||35||59||5v5|
|Home||1||10:03||Marleau from Couture, save||12||31||39||44||57||61||4||9||14||18||35||63||5v5|
|Away||1||9:28||Forsberg from Ribiero, save||12||31||39||44||57||61||4||9||15||20||35||63||5v5|
|Away||1||9:27||Ellis from Forsberg rebound, save||12||31||39||44||57||61||4||9||15||20||35||63||5v5|
|Home||2||11:41||Pavelski from Thornton, save (5v4 PP)||8||12||19||31||39||88||4||13||14||24||35||5v4|
|Home||2||11:40||Marleau from Pavelski rebound, save (5v4 PP)||8||12||19||31||39||88||4||13||14||24||35||5v4|
|Home||2||11:19||Pavelski from Marleau, save (5v4 PP)||8||12||19||31||39||88||4||13||14||24||35||5v4|
|Home||2||6:57||Braun from Pavelski, miss (4v4)||8||19||31||44||61||3||19||33||35||59||4v4|
|Home||2||6:05||Hannan from Thornton, save (4v4)||12||19||27||31||80||3||19||33||35||59||4v4|
|Home||2||6:04||Marleau from Hannan rebound, save (4v4)||12||19||27||31||80||3||19||33||35||59||4v4|
|Home||2||4:44||McGinn from Tierney, miss||4||10||25||31||50||88||3||7||9||12||20||35||5v5|
|Home||2||2:09||Karlsson from Goodrow, save||4||15||31||68||88||89||4||7||12||14||15||35||5v5|
|Away||3||17:51||Jokinen from Cullen, save||15||27||31||68||80||89||6||7||13||24||35||59||5v5|
|Away||3||14:47||Neal from Weber rebound, save (5v4 PP)||12||27||31||57||88||6||9||12||18||35||59||4v5|
|Away||3||9:15||Jokinin from Josi, save||10||25||31||44||50||61||6||7||13||35||57||59||5v5|
|Away||3||8:45||Forsberg from Neal, save||12||27||31||39||57||80||4||9||12||14||18||35||5v5|
|Away||3||6:37||Forsberg from Ellis, save||8||31||44||57||61||4||9||14||33||35||4v4|
On-ice scoring chances, for and against
Team scoring chance numbers
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
As can be seen in the period by period breakdown of the scoring chances, it's pretty clear that this was a game the Sharks dominated up until the third period, at which point they were more than content to just employ a passive forecheck and sit back in their defensive shell. That's when the line of Neal-Ribeiro-Forsberg went to work, being on the ice for four out of Nashville's seven even strength coring chances in the period.
Ultimately, the extent to which the Sharks sat back in the third makes it a bit hard to take these numbers at face value, as they are definitely influenced by score effects, but it's worth noting that the third line had another solid game. I'll admit that I was very skeptical at the line's inception, but somehow a line of two NHL rookies and James Sheppard has managed to be a pretty darn effective the past few games. Karlsson especially has shown quite well, having three scoring chances this game, and setting up another. I wouldn't have thought I'd be saying this when he was first called up, but the Sharks are going to have some tough decisions to make when Kennedy and Nieto get healthy again with how well Karlsson has been playing.
It's been a relatively consistent trend during the last few weeks, and it's likely due to sharing most of their ice time with Thornton, Pavelski, and Hertl, but Dillon and Burns had another fantastic night, judging by scoring chance differential. Suffice it to say, Burns didn't have games like this when he was paired with Mueller, and I think this just goes to show how much the Sharks really needed to acquire a solid left-handed top-4 defenseman like Dillon.
One concern I had when both Kennedy and Nieto went down is what effect it would have on the Sharks' entry game, and if Karlsson would be able to offset the loss of those two at all. Well, in this game, he certainly did. Not only did the team average a whole shot attempt per every one of his entries, but he also carried the puck in on every one of his entries--both very rare feats. Karlsson's linemate Barclay Goodrow had a fantastic game on entries as well, as although he didn't carry the puck in with any regularity, the team created quite a bit of offense off of his entries, averaging almost two shot attempts per every one of his entries.
Speaking of good rookie performances on zone entries, everybody bow down to Fillip Forsberg. I've mentioned before how I love watching the Oilers, if just because I get to watch guys like Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle absolutely own the neutral zone, and although it's only one game of data, you can certainly see Forsberg's bright future as a zone entries wizard, judging by his numbers here.
Aside from Forsberg, I think Josi's numbers are very notable here as well. It's pretty rare to see any player carry the puck in on 7 of their 8 entries, but a defenseman doing it is almost unheard of. Nashville's a pretty notable team all-around with their defensemen, and they definitely have the potential to have one of the best puck-moving set of defensemen in the league once Jones and Ekholm begin to develop more.
It's been a long time coming, and he's actually done very well this season on defending against zone entries, but I just want to take a moment to acknowledge Hannan's numbers here. Nashville attempted four entries against Hannan specifically. On those four attempts, they carried the puck in every single time. It's possible Hannan was playing a but more conservative than usual I suppose, given that he was playing with Tennyson, but I really don't think I can express enough how surprised I am that this is one of the first times this season Hannan has been burned like this on zone entries. He's actually been pretty good this season at preventing the opposition from carrying the puck into the Sharks' defensive zone, showing that he does still have some worth (though not nearly enough to justify him playing over Mueller, in my book).
Nashville's D as a whole did a pretty good job at preventing the Sharks from carrying the puck into the zone in this game (though as we've covered here before, the Sharks are hardly a team who loves carrying the puck into the zone anyways), with Josi again being the defenseman that stands out to me. Despite his reputation as being one of the league's elite defensemen, there's certainly an argument to be made that Weber is one of the most overrated defensemen in the league, as since his favorite D-partner left, basically every Nashville Predator has done better without Weber than with him. Josi's numbers away from Weber are pretty ugly, but I'll be interested to see how he does if he ever gets the chance to detach himself from Weber for an extended period of time, cause numbers like these really make it seem like he should be doing better possession-wise than he is.
Though the Sharks' D had yet another game where they struggled to create breakouts off their own sticks, on the positive side of things, this game perfectly exemplifies one of the reasons why Thornton is so valuable to this team. He's excelled all season at zone exits, just going to show that there's basically no stat that he doesn't look good by (plus, without him, who would the Sharks rely upon to score all the empty net goals??). Karlsson as well had a good game by this metric, showing that even if the offense doesn't stay consistent with him, at least he's got some solid fundamentals to his game that he can fall back upon to hopefully keep him in this league.
Before I mentioned that the Preds have the potential to have one of the league's best puck moving group of defensemen in the league, and I think these stats do a pretty good job of backing that up. All three of Nashville's core young defensemen, Ellis, Jones, and Josi, had over 20% overall success percentages last night, something that the Sharks certainly don't see out of their defensemen very often. I think it was a great move by the Preds to hire Laviolette this past offseason, and I think he's really getting all he can out of this team, utilizing the young, mobile defensemen he has, and pretty importantly, giving Ryan Ellis a chance to shine. Ellis never really seemed to get too much credit when Trotz was the big man in town, but it really looks like he's getting a solid chance under Laviolette, and he's taking advantage of it, not only moving the puck effectively, but also doing good work in the offensive zone, exemplified by being responsible for three of Nashville's ten even strength scoring chances last night. There's far too many doubters out there who constantly question whether or not small players can thrive in the NHL, and another successful small player like Ryan Ellis is really good to see.