Sharks Gameday: The Guess Who Sucked, the Jets Are Back Now Here To Stay



5:30 PST
23-11-5, 51 points 20-17-5, 45 points
3rd in Western Conference 10th in Eastern Conference
98.5 KFOX,
Arctic Ice Hockey
Illegal Curve

With the Sharks playing the Jets for the first time this year, the general storyline from the San Jose standpoint will go as follows-- the bitter cold that wraps itself around the city of Winnipeg this time of year, Kyle Wellwood's excellent season thus far, and the Jets return to the NHL after a decade and change of being out of the League.

Winnipeg is freezing right now, we highlighted Kyle Wellwood as a player who destroyed his competition last season with the Sharks, and the Jets return to Winnipeg is a great story for the community that should be celebrated.

So we move on to other things.

With the excellent Gabe Desjardins running SBN's Jets blog over at Arctic Ice Hockey, and FTF adding a terrific writer in The Neutral last month to cover scoring chances and statistical analysis, I figured now was as good a time as any to re-introduce you to a statistic that does a damn fine job of telling us about the success of a player but one that hasn't received much coverage on Fear The Fin.

That statistic is PDO.

PDO is a relatively simple concept to understand, but as Gabe mentions in his article here, it is one of the most powerful statistics we have at capturing things that the eye (and even some advanced statistics) can miss--luck, both good and bad, and the sustainability of that production.

PDO is the sum of a player's on-ice shooting percentage on-ice save percentage while he is on the ice. It regresses heavily to the mean the more games that are played, meaning that a team or player well above 1000 at this point in the year has benefited from good luck and should be expected to come down while a player or team that is well below 1000 has been dealt bad luck and should be expected to come up. The magic number is 1000-- anything that deviates from that by a wide margin is an outlier, a fluke, a scourge, a sign that a correction is soon to come.

Let's use Joe Thornton's season as an example. When Thornton is on the ice at 5v5, the Sharks have a shooting percentage of 8.33% and a save percentage of 93.1%. Some simple addition gets us to the number of 1015. This tells us Thornton has been riding the percentages a little bit, but he isn't so far from the magic number of 1000 to indicate things are about to drastically take a turn for the worse from a goal differential standpoint.

Furthermore, don't think of PDO as solely an offensive or defensive statistic that measures good or bad luck-- a player's on-ice shooting and on-ice save percentage tell us where he lies on that continnum. What PDO does tell us about is a player's goal differential, and it tells us that in spades.

Here are the five Sharks who are furthest from the mean average of 1000 this season (min: 20 GP):

San Jose Sharks PDO Winners and Losers

Player GP
On-Ice SH%
Martin Havlat
7.98 96.9 1048
Jamie McGinn 38
9.35 94.1 1034
Logan Couture
7.91 95.3 1032
Marc-Edouard Vlasic
8.85 94.1 1030
Jason Demers 28
90.9 975

The full list of Sharks can be found here.
Martin Havlat (from a defensive standpoint) and Jamie McGinn (from an offensive standpoint) are the two players on the Sharks who immediately jump out as players who have benefitted a whole lot this season from the percentages. They've been riding them like a toaster strudel feline coasting through space (FTF Online Store reference in hyperdrive!), which indicates things will begin to slow down for them this season in regards to goal differential.

Everything requires context of course-- Havlat's miserable and unsustainable 3.2 shooting percentage indicates his personal goal totals should increase with time, but expect that +/- to take a hit when he returns from his hamstring injury sometime in late February if his rehab progresses as expected.

McGinn is a man among mortals and will defy the odds for the rest of his career. You can take that to the bank (just make sure your account is FDIC insured).

Jason Demers has been battered by the percentages this entire season, with his poor luck coming in both the offensive and defensive realms. A lot of that has to do with his extremely rough start to the season of course, but the good thing is that Demers has managed to turn the corner in his play as of late and should receive a nice little regression to the mean bump as well. Expect that team worst -7 to rise during the second half of the season-- it has been foretold in the Book of Gabe.

As we have discussed earlier, the Sharks as a whole have good underlying statistics-- this is a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, and one that outchances their opponents the vast majority of games they play in. Having said that, the Sharks have been the beneficiaries of the percentages at 5v5, with twelve players ending up 10 points above the mean and only two players lying 10 points below.

Certainly this is a testament to the goaltending of Antti Niemi during the season, as well as the strength of the roster. It's also a sign that some difficulties may arise as the second half begins as an overall team PDO of 1014 begins to regress to that 1000 point sweet spot.

With 16 out of their next 22 games on the road, things aren't going to get any easier for San Jose. Following a loss to the Wild that saw them get outplayed for the majority of the game, they'll look to rebound tonight in one of the louder buildings in the League.

Prediction: Sharks win 4-1. Goals by McGinn, Mitchell, Marleau, and Demers. I listen to The Weakerthans all day.