Sharks Gameday: Jason Demers



5:30 PST
47-19-10, 104 points 33-29-14, 80 points
1st in Western Conference
13th in Western Conference
98.5 KFOX,
Defending Big D

The seventies were a great time for rock n' roll, and unfortunately, I missed it. Lynyrd Skynyrd, Grand Funk Railroad, Led Zepellin, Steve Miller Band, Eric Clapton, Queen, SRV, Fall Out Boy…the list of these great bands goes on and on. The golden age of electric guitar.

I may never let my parents live down the fact that they consumated their love in the 1980's, and if the organization doesn't separate itself from the idea that Brad Staubitz is a player that will bring results to the table two weeks from now, I may never let them live it down either.

Which brings us to the subject of Jason Demers. Demers has played 46 games with the big club this season despite bouncing back and forth from the Sharks minor league affiliate on the ever-famous Worcester Shutle. A riverboat gambler prone to some lapses in the defensive zone, he sees the easiest competition at evens outside of Jay Leach, and for all intents and purposes, is probably one the least defensively sound blueliners on the current roster. He's a young Dan Boyle without the experience, and although the hope is that he will develop into someone who can play a couple shifts on the penalty kill, that is not going to be asked of him right now.

And yet, despite these minor faults, Demers is a player that has proved to be a worthwhile addition to this club.

Dan Boyle, Douglas Murray, Rob Blake, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. All four of these players will find themselves playing in game one of the playoffs no questions asked, barring an injury. Niclas Wallin is almost certainly a lock considering Doug Wilson made a trade for him at the deadline, plus the fact that he's earned a spot in the starting lineup. This leaves you with one open slot to try and fit in Demers. Jay Leach will be a healthy scratch. The organization picked him up off waivers earlier this year to keep a warm body at the ready, and while he has done a fine job in that regard, he is not a bonafide starter. I don't trust him in an elimination game.

Kent Huskins is a different story. We've all complained our fair share about his $1.7 M contract, but I think he's done an above average job defensively throughout the course of the year relative to his role. He's a good fit in that six spot, and brings more to the table defensively than Demers. That's the biggest issue with the Sharks-- they will score goals. It's limiting shots and giving Nabokov some support that concerns me. I think I may trust Huskins more than Demers in that six slot during an elimination game.

Now you probably all know what's coming-- I touched upon the idea of rolling seven defenseman last week, and TCY and I mentioned it in that humongous Thornton post on Sunday morning while we were burning the midnight oil.

Midnight Oil. Also a good seventies band.

What I think might be a good idea to look at here is rolling seven defenseman during the playoffs. Staubitz should be a scratch, no questions asked. I've made that case for awhile now, and he really doesn't serve any purpose out there when he is seeing two minutes of ice time. With Logan Couture up however, one of McGinn or Ortmeyer will have to ride the pine. That hurts. McLellan has reduced both of those players ice times considerably over the last ten or so games, for reasons I can't really pick up on, so it would seem that either of them would be the likely candidate to go.

Being a shameless Jamie McGinn promoter, I pick Ortmeyer to sit. It's nothing against Jed really-- I think he does a fine job in the lower six, and can kill his fair share of penalties. However, McGinn trumps Ortmeyer in nearly every subjective offensive category across the board, and the hope is that Torrey Mitchell would be able to increase his minutes shorthanded despite having some trouble in the category this season.

Sitting Ortmeyer probably doesn't break the penalty kill. However, rolling seven defenseman with Demers probably does make the power play, as well as offering McLellan the opportunity to keep his blueliners fresh.

I touched upon how Demers has offered a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart of San Jose's power play earlier this season in January, but let's take a look at some of the updated numbers as they stand today. Here is the current production of the San Jose blueliners that are in the top five of TOI with the 5v4 advantage:

5v4 Power Play

Jason Demers
46 2:20 1.68 3.36 5.04 9.54 0.56 8.98
Dan Boyle
70 4:17 1.05 4.20 5.25 9.24 1.05 8.19
M-E Vlasic
59 1:45 0.59 0.59 1.18 7.61 1.76 5.85
Rob Blake
64 2:18 1.24 1.65 2.89 6.60 0.83 5.77
Kent Huskins
76 0:43 0.00 2.16 2.16 4.31 3.23 1.08

What these numbers are saying is this-- the San Jose power play as a whole produces the most goals when Demers is out on the ice, Demers produces the most goals amongst defenseman, and only Dan Boyle produces more points than Demers.

I think there is a lot to be said on what Demers brings to the table on the power play. It is clear that his presence faciliates goal scoring, and when you consider the history of San Jose's postseason production in this area, he could even be considered a greater plus. Here is how the Sharks have fared since the lockout with the man advantage:

Power Play Post-Lockout

87/360 24.2% 3rd 4/24 16.7% 8th
70/374 18.7% 10th 8/56 14.3% 12th
92/410 22.4% 2nd 4/57 7.0% 14th
91/500 18.2% 13th 11/72 15.3% 10th
340/1644 20.7% - 27/209 12.9% -

When looking at these numbers, keep in mind that there are 30 teams San Jose is being compared to in the regular season, while there are 16 in the postseason. Essentially, every single year, the Sharks are in the top half during the regular season, and drop to the middle or below when the playoffs begin.

Furthermore, having Demers out on the ice trickles down the lineup. It allows you to reduce Dan Boyle and Rob Blake's minutes, which can only mean good things going forward. Demers can now log heavy power play time considering Huskins would take the lion's share of those bottom pairing minutes and bring a steadier presence defensively relative to Demers. You are also able to avoid opposing coaches line matching to some degree by double shifting Marleau, Heatley etc. on the fly with the fourth line and see if they can steal a goal against some lesser competition.

I think it's something to the coaching staff should definitely look at here in the next six games, especially considering the amount of ice time McLellan has allocated to Ortmeyer and McGinn since the Olympic Break.

And hell, if Demers proves that a prolonged stint in Worcester has shored up his defensive game, you might not even have to turn to seven defenseman to get the job done. I trust Huskins' defensive abilities more at this point, but the last four games of the season will be a good test for Demers considering they are filled with top-9 Western Conference teams. If he proves that he can avoid making turnovers in the defensive zone, Huskins sits and you can roll four complete lines.

There's a lot of options here, but at the end of the day, Demers looks like he should be involved in whichever route the organization decides to go.

Prediction: Sharks win 4-1. Goals by Blake, Marleau, Heatley, and Mitchell. Demers assists on three power play goals.

Here is the thread from earlier today if you wish to continue your conversations.

Go Sharks.