Sharks Gameday: Secondary



6:00 PST
29-10-7, 65 points 26-15-5, 57 points
2nd in Western Conference
6th in Western Conference
98.5 KFOX,
Five For Howling

And it comes down to you, never and ever. Wrecked my day with looks and flirts, and midnight with your shortest perks. Past the point of trying, are you a dying breed? Thank history for reminding me of all the things that went completely wrong.


It's hard not to be pleased with last night, especially considering how things have gone this season with Los Angeles. Blake redeemed himself after a porous outing a week ago, Nabokov managed to shut the door in the final frame when the pace ramped up, and the second line generated some excellent scoring chances even if they didn't show up on the scoresheet.

Funny you mention that second line today Plank. Hello precious inner monologue-- did you have a pertinent point of discussion you were planning on divulging to the masses? Correct good sir! Should we wait until after the jump or just get into it now? I'm not sure really. You seem to be running the show around here today, and I'd hate to divert your energy away from delivering on what seems to be something the good people would want to hear. Fair enough, fair enough. Let's not waste any more time than we already have and hit the heavy stuff. Sounds good to me. Oh, and Mr. Inner Monologue? Yes? Let's not do this again. It's not nearly as humorous as I expected it to be.


Secondary scoring. We covered it at the beginning of the season and touched on it one month ago, discussed it in the comments intermittently-- fact of the matter is, we all should have some degree of familiarity with the subject. I haven't been happy with the production on a night to night basis throughout the season, and the second line's current skid of zero goals in the year 2010 has provided a good opportunity to isolate some basic quantitative data while the topic is still fresh.

Without further ado, here's one of those fancy charts your girl has been raving about. Eight current Western Conference playoff teams, with categories broken up as follows: games played, top two goal scorers totals, remaining goal scorers totals, total GF, and the percentage of GF the top two scorers are responsible for.

Teams are ranked in order of "balance", which is why you will see San Jose last.

2009-2010 Team Goal Scoring (West)

Team GP Top 2
Rest Tot. GF
Top 2 %
47 30 103 133 22.56

46 34 114 148 22.97

46 27
116 23.28
Los Angeles
46 31 99 130 23.85

46 32 127 127 25.20

46 39 106 145 26.90

46 38 84 122 31.15

San Jose
46 55 89 144 38.19

Analysis after the jump.

1) From now until the end of the season, most of my comparative analysis will focus on the Western Conference. This should be fairly intuitive, but for those of you who are missing a cerebral cortex, it's because these are the teams San Jose will face during The Months That Shall Not Be Named. That's why I avoided the Eastern Conference like an overweight neighbor who suntans in a skimpy bikini during January and eats Fritos off her stomach. Unbelievable*.

*She and her roomates all think I'm British because I always yell at them in my Reginald Dustyballs accent**. "Bollocks for brains" never fails to make her smile, probably because she doesn't know what the hell I'm talking about.

**It's really time for a new FTF Trackz song. I've got a couple in the works, and while I'm not making any promises, let's shoot for three by the end of the regular season.

2) Chicago is better than San Jose, and it would be considered an upset if we were victorious in a seven game series. I don't think it's out of the question to say the Blackhawks are the class of the Western Conference right now, and looking at this chart it's easy to see why-- they roll a ton of lines that can score, produce from the blueline, and have a goal differential that is the best in the league. If they manage to get an upgrade at the deadline and San Jose stands pat, it's WCF's or bust and I'll consider the season a success for the Sharkies. Sad but true. Get over it.

3) 38.19% of goal scoring output from Marleau and Heatley? That's worse than the time I figured out I could use a normal sized water bottle as a fleshlight. You're damn right-- wait, what? Dear god.

Anyways, seriously what the hell was that man, anyways, the over-reliance San Jose has on their top two goal scorers poses a problem for San Jose once we make our way down the stretch run. Teams can key in on Marleau and Heatley, will key in on Marleau and Heatley, and in the process of doing so, effectively lay to waste a huge portion of the Sharks offensive output. A team with excellent defensive capabilities (Chicago being the obvious example here with Keith-Seabrook, but Vancouver, Calgary, and Phoenix should also be in the conversation) are the demons of San Jose, especially if HTML is skating on the same line together. Shut them down and you have a very good chance of beating the Sharks. It's that simple (in theory) over a seven game set.

I don't have any data to back this up, but I seem to recall McLellan mixing up the lines against the majority of these seven teams once the second period hits, and doing it a helluva lot more than he would against the Western Conference bottom feeders. It's a big reason why I'm still not completely sold on HTML going forward-- sure they can mop up the oil and defeather a duck or two, but when Heatley and Marleau have accounted for one goal between them against the Phoenix Coyotes, it's a red flag that indicates this may not work down the line.

I'd still like to see Oh Captain My Captain and Goocherooski switch places at evens for the time being (if not for the purpose of spreading out the scoring, then to at least get Setoguchi going), and think that's how things eventually shake out after the Olympic break. There's just too much at stake here to expect that line to carry the load all the time. Marleau's talented enough where he'll rub off on Clowe/Pavelski if given the requisite number of games to re-establish chemistry, and even if his production drops a bit because of it, I bet it's made up with increased output from the team as a whole. Sure Setoguchi hasn't earned a promotion, but he didn't exactly deserve a demotion to the fourth line coming back from injury either. It messed with his head and he's been forcing things ever since. Coddle him a bit, give him four games of consistency with Papa Joe, and watch the youngun blossom into the successful and confident young man we all hope he will become.

4) Okay sure, the Sharks are top heavy percentage-wise. But isn't that just because they're one of the highest goal scoring teams the world has ever known? Not really. 38.19% would admittedly look a lot worse on a team like Phoenix, a team who would be thrilled with 0-0 shootout wins for the rest of the year, but if you sort the list by raw totals of goal scorers not in the top two, San Jose only moves up to the sixth spot (tied with the Coyotes). It's definitely an issue.

5) What about teams in the past-- is this an anomaly, or have other successful teams dealt with the same problem? We'll be digging into that tomorrow. Hold your horses cowboy.

6) Phoning Dr. Blake. San Jose requires laxatives to precipitate the release of secondary scoring . An upgrade would be nice, and it will be something we look at in mid-February, but the likely solution is going to have to come from inside the organization. The Sharks probably need an upgrade in defense over bolstering their secondary scoring at the forward position, but if these trends hold or even get worse, I wouldn't put anything off the table. In a perfect world you kill two birds with one stone and get a solid blueliner who can score goals, but with the amount of cap space the Sharks will be working with, that's a long shot. Players like that don't come cheap.

McCarthy's not a bad player in the least, but I'm sure he's up at this point because he's cheaper than both Ferriero and McGinn. Between that, and the demotion of McLaren, San Jose sure isn't helping themselves out all too much. Not when it comes to secondary scoring.


Prediction: Sharks win 1-0 in the shootout. Lone goal by Greiss, who puts one top corner in the 19th round.

Go Sharks.