Diagnosing the Sharks ill penalty kill

What's the problem with the Sharks penalty kill this season?

The Sharks haven't been so great at killing penalties this season, or last season, for that matter. They are 27th in the league in goals against per 60 minutes while shorthanded, 22nd in terms of shots against per 60 minutes and 15th in corsi against per 60.

Sitting in the middle of the pack by corsi rating may suggest the Sharks will rebound from a slow start on the PK, but when including last season's data San Jose is 24th in the league in corsi against per 60. Granted, last year's team was substantially worse than this one, particularly in the defense department. But something's not right with the Sharks penalty kill — and it might start with how many times San Jose has been shorthanded.

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The Sharks' penalty differential per 60 isn't dreadful (-0.38) but it stands in stark contrast to last season when it stood at .42. That's a .80 difference every 60 minutes, or roughly a penalty a game. Even last year was down from two season ago when the Sharks penalty differential per 60 was .85.

San Jose took 339 penalties in 2013-14 (3.73), 305 in 2014-15 (3.673 per 60) and 55 (4.20, blaze it, per 60) this season. So the Sharks have (in a relatively small sample) certianly taken more penalties this season than they have in either of their previous two. While that certainly can't help matters, I'd be skeptical to make any link between that and the number of goals given up.

Last night's Brandon Pirri power-play goal came right off a faceoff and was caused by a lack of simple man-marking right from the get go.

Florida wins the faceoff and throws it back to the left point. Three of the four Sharks on the ice are still in the faceoff circle and the fourth is (maybe) trying to get in the way of a potential shot instead of sliding over to mark Pirri.

Pirri receives the puck and rifles a bullet past Stalock, who didn't seem to have much of a chance of stopping it. Half of the Sharks PK unit is still on the left side of the ice, and the other half is just now moving towards Pirri despite the puck already having crossed the line and hit the twine.

This is just one penalty kill, of course, and not all have been quite as mediocre as this one. While there are certainly things to clean up, it would seem the Sharks first order of business should be to stay out of the sin bin to begin with. Not to name names, but if you had to guess who has the worst penalty differential on the Sharks this year, who would you guess?

I know, I know — it's not Brent Burns. I'm as surprised as you. Brenden Dillon is certainl the worst offender, but Mike Brown, Burns and Justin Braun could all stand to clean up their game a bit.

The Sharks are also, for what it's worth, getting the second-worst goaltending in the league while shorthanded. Only Boston's 72.9 percent is worse than San Jose's 83.1 percent.

So, the tl;dr version is:

  1. Take fewer penalties
  2. Get better positioning on the PK
  3. Pray for better goaltending

Problem solved!