Sharks Gameday: Losses, Damned Losses, and Statistics



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Sharks did it again.

Starting the third period with a one goal lead in Nashville, they lost focus for just a tiny bit of time and not only lost the lead, but lost the game as Predators scored two goals in 44 seconds with two minutes remaining.

It's getting tiresome to write about the nights like this, as they seem to happen regularly now. That's about as much interwebs space as I'm willing to waste on that, and we move on to Dallas.

Hello again, Dallas Stars.

San Jose Sharks are going to be facing Dallas Stars for the third time this season, and for the third time in one month. It's a strange calendar feature - the exact same thing will happen in March, when they play each other again, three times in one month. We've written all we could about them - yes, they're good this year. Yes, Brad Richards is Canadian Pavel Datsyuk. Yes, playing them is like going to Thanksgiving dinner when you don't want to go and hang out with most of the people, but you go anyway, and great moments are born. So again, let's talk about something else.

Since the lockout, San Jose Sharks was known as a team that hardly ever loses the second game of back-to-back games, if they lost the first one. This is 5th back-to-back game for the Sharks this season and they only lost both games once - about a month ago, as they first lost in Denver, and then travelled to Dallas, and lost there too. Strange thing about those games - both losses came in overtime.

Last season the Sharks had seven back-to-back games and they lost two in a row just once. It's a good guess that they'll win tonight.

Now a couple of thoughts about individual play.

Just because of that kind of a guy, I decided to dedicate a month of December to build an Excel model that tracks the individual player statistics just for that month. I figured December is a good month for two reasons - first, Sharks play a lot of games that month (15 - more than any other month of the regular season), and second, because I don't want to part with Excel, my best friend in this life, for Christmas break when I take some PTO.

I'm basing my model on ESPN stats, because as far as I know, they're the most comprehensive on game-by-game basis. They aren't perfect. For some reason, the stats of Sharks-Flyers game were not as detailed as usual. (Because of that, the stats below may be a bit skewed if compared to other sources). But this micro-statistical analysis still gives me a better picture about the most recent Sharks performances than what I can get on other web-sites that track these things on season basis.

We're half way through this exercise, and Sharks now played half their games in this month. Here are few observations about Sharks' play in December.

  • It's no wonder the Sharks struggle to hold to the leads. They don't have puck as much as they're used to. In December, they're doing terrible at faceoffs. Just one player on the Sharks roster is above 50% - Scott Nichol, who's at 62.4%. The other three centers are struggling - Thornton is at 42%, Pavelski is at 48% and Couture is at 46%.
  • Jamie McGinn leads the team in December in hits, which isn't surprising. What's surprising is that Ben Ferreiro is second.
  • Patrick Marleau has just two points in 8 games and is -5. He took more shifts than anyone else on the team except Dan Boyle. Interesting fact - Couture is second in the number of shifts in December among forwards.
  • Joe Pavelski has just one goal and no assists in December, while taking almost as many shots as Ryane Clowe (who has 4 goals and 7 assists and a +7).
  • Joe Thornton isn't having the greatest month offensively (1G 4A), but is working hard defensively and leads the team in takeaways. Oups - he also leads the team in giveaways.
  • Logan Couture has the most shots on goal. Any guess who's second? Ben Ferreiro. Something tells me he's not headed to Worcester any time soon.
  • With 5 points in 8 games, Justin Braun leads all d-men in scoring. Who's second? My hero Niclas Wallin, who has 3 points in 6 games.

It's too soon to tell what other conclusions I'll draw from my beautiful Excel model. But one thing is certain - those stats are as unpredictable as the Sharks scores on nightly basis. The wild ride continues.

PREDICTION: Sharks win 4-3, on goals by Wallin (2), McGinn and Couture - FTF writers favorites.