The Morning After: Comparing the road play from the 2015-16 to the 2007-08 squad
A little bit of luck helped the Sharks to their best road-season ever.
A cursory glance at the Sharks home and away splits can be misleading. While San Jose won its franchise-best 28th road game of the season last night, the Sharks haven't really played much better on the road than at SAP Center. And yet, they topped a record set by the very good 2007-08 San Jose team that posted 108 points.
That team's season ended in Dallas, funnily enough given their road prowess all season. A look at the possession numbers between this team and the 07-08 team highlights a stark contrast...namely that team was incredible whereas this team's road numbers are slightly above average.
That table, from War-On-Ice, shows the last 11 seasons of regular season Sharks hockey on the road, sorted by even strength, score-adjusted fenwick-for percentage. The 2007-08 ranks as the best in that span, while this season sits in the bottom five. Possession numbers aren't lifting the Sharks to road win after road win, and it certainly isn't their possession play at home that has them sitting with only 17 wins at SAP Center.
So right, let's take a look at the Sharks' PDO.
Setting the parameters to all strengths shows us the 2015-16 team tops the chart with a PDO of 102.8. By comparison, the 2007-08 squad had a 100.5 PDO on the road and this year's team has a measly PDO of 97.7 (yes, their worst mark in the past 11 years). The answer is pretty clear here: San Jose hasn't gotten anywhere near as good goaltending at home as it has on the road.
Even strength save percentage at home: .914
Even strength save percentage on the road: .930
Even strength shooting percentage at home: 7.3
Even strength shoot percentage on the road: 8.2
Those numbers stretch even further apart when you include all strengths as the Sharks have shot (and saved) better during special teams play in less time on the power play. This all amounts to a Sharks team that has seen its luck balanced out, more or less. It just so happens that good luck has happened on the road and not at home.
Or I guess you could choose to believe Martin Jones hates SAP Center, will never play well there, and the Sharks are feeding off the #negative #energy of the fans in attendance. You do you. This team might not be as good as the team's record it broke, but the Sharks certainly have the potential to do some damage once they get into the playoffs — whether it be at home or on the road.