Sharks vs. Red Wings: By the numbers
A look at the numbers behind the Sharks' 2-1 shootout loss to Detroit.
- An ugly game for the Sharks by the shot metrics but I think scoring chances come closer to painting the picture. Detroit was firing a lot of pucks at Niemi from the outside, either in attempts to generate offensive-zone faceoffs or create rebounds that never really materialized.
- There's no question Patrick Marleau benefits greatly from playing with Joe Thornton and those two along with Pavelski comprise one of the best two-way lines in the NHL. Still, it's always interesting to note the differences in Marleau's game when he isn't forced to play at Thornton's sometimes glacial pace. Marleau was flying last night in what in my mind was his best game of the season so far, including all the ones in which he scored a bunch of goals. He and Gomez appear to be developing some modicum of chemistry and that line has impressed the past two games.
- On the other hand, a good argument for reuniting Marleau, Thornton and Pavelski is that Jumbo and Havlat don't seem to work all that well as a tandem. For some reason, perhaps by coaching instruction, Havlat dumps the puck in at an alarming frequency when he's placed on Thornton's wing, largely refraining from pushing play and challenging opposing defensemen. That line created a goal (and Couture had a terrific game) so it wasn't all bad but they were hurting the team more than helping them through 40 minutes.
- I was expecting the Clowe/Zus/Kennedy line to be a trainwreck but they really weren't. As expected, they struggled to advance the puck but were effective on the cycle when able to establish offensive-zone possession. If they're heavily sheltered, perhaps they could work as a unit but I doubt their limited upside is worth the trouble. Also, despite Clowe's gaudy possession numbers, he's incapable of driving play when separated from Couture and has been for two years now.
- Similarly, the Vlasic/Stuart pairing wasn't nearly as bad as I was expecting them to be although a lot of that had to do with being surprisingly sheltered in terms of zone starts as McLellan deployed them as often in the offensive zone as their own end in a game where there were seven more draws in the Sharks' end than Detroit's at even-strength.
- Burish was out for a bulk of those defensive-zone draws, which partially explains his team-worst minus-13 shot differential. Regardless, I think he deserves to be scratched when Wingels gets healthy./
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