The balanced attack of the 2016 San Jose Sharks
San Jose's offense was very top-heavy in the first half of the 2015–16 season. In the second half, not so much.
Through the first 38 games of the 2015–16 season, the Sharks received most of their offense from four primary goal scorers. Of the 102 goals they scored, 61—or 60 percent—were scored by Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns, Patrick Marleau and Joel Ward.
Then the Sharks blew out the Maple Leafs 7–0 on January 9. Tomas Hertl, Joonas Donskoi, Matt Nieto and Melker Karlsson all scored goals (Hertl twice) to break out of lengthy scoring slumps. I wrote that San Jose would have a much deeper lineup if any one of those four players could build on his performance in that game. I didn't imagine for a minute that all four would.
From the January 9 game on, Hertl, Donskoi, Nieto and Karlsson have combined for 26 goals in 25 games. Hertl's scored 12 of them playing on the top line with Pavelski and Joe Thornton to go from a depth forward to San Jose's top offensive weapon. Others have contributed as well: Chris Tierney has four goals since returning from a short AHL stint, and Dainius Zubrus had a pair in February. Nick Spaling has two in five games with the Sharks. Logan Couture has eight after missing 30 games with two different leg injuries. Those guys have helped the Sharks average 3.56 goals in their last 25 games (second in the NHL in that time behind the Ducks) after averaging 2.68 in their first 38.
Here, for your reading pleasure, are two tables breaking down every goal the Sharks have scored in what I'm defining as the second half of the season because it's my post and I can set arbitrary endpoints if I want to. The first table shows the number of goals scored in each game and who scored them.
|January 9||Maple Leafs||7||Burns, Nieto, Pavelski, Hertl, Karlsson, Donskoi, Hertl|
|January 11||Flames||5||Thornton, Donskoi, Couture, Burns, Ward|
|January 12||Jets||4||Tierney, Thornton, Pavelski, Ward|
|January 16||Stars||4||Vlasic, Tierney, Vlasic, Hertl|
|January 18||Senators||3||Hertl, Couture, Nieto|
|January 21||Coyotes||3||Wingels, Tierney, Marleau|
|January 23||Wild||4||Hertl, Donskoi, Ward, Pavelski|
|January 24||Kings||2||Pavelski, Couture|
|January 26||Avalanche||6||Karlsson, Hertl, Pavelski, Ward, Martin, DeMelo|
|February 2||Ducks||2||Zubrus, Wingels|
|February 4||Blues||3||Donskoi, Thornton, Nieto|
|February 6||Predators||2||Thornton, Couture|
|February 9||Blackhawks||2||Marleau, Thornton|
|February 11||Flames||5||Wingels, Couture, Marleau, Donskoi, DeMelo|
|February 13||Coyotes||4||Zubrus, Tierney, Hertl, Donskoi|
|February 16||Lightning||4||Ward, Pavelski, Nieto, Karlsson|
|February 19||Hurricanes||2||Burns, Hertl|
|February 22||Blues||6||Hertl, Hertl, Couture, Couture, Thornton, Thornton|
|February 24||Avalanche||3||Spaling, Burns, Ward|
|February 28||Canucks||4||Pavelski, Hertl, Marleau, Braun|
|February 29||Canadiens||6||Thornton, Pavelski, Burns, Karlsson, Spaling, Pavelski|
|March 3||Canucks||3||Hertl, Burns, Marleau|
The second table shows every Shark who's scored a goal since January 9, how many goals he's scored and what percentage of the Sharks' 87 second half goals he's scored. (Both tables exclude goals of the shootout variety.)
The first half scoring foursome of Pavelski, Burns, Marleau and Ward has combined for 26 goals in the second half, or 30 percent. The top four scorers in the second half—Hertl, Pavelski, Couture and Thornton—have scored 37, or 43 percent, showing just how spread out the team's offense has been.
Their balanced attack has helped the Sharks to a 17–4–4 second half record with four lines capable of scoring on any given night. With San Jose 16 points up on a playoff spot and boasting a strong goalie tandem in Martin Jones and James Reimer, there's good reason to be optimistic about the team's chances come April.