Now that we’re cruising along into November, a few clubs are already taking that long, hard look into the mirror. Among them, the San Jose Sharks.
The team entered Monday after a Saturday loss to the Vancouver Canucks and things do not look good. Losers of five straight, San Jose sits last in the Pacific Division.
“No one in this league feels sorry for the San Jose Sharks. No one,” said Logan Couture. “We need to get that swagger, that confidence back, that we’ve had here for so many years. It’s tough when you’re losing.”
It is tough when you’re losing, but there are reasons for this unwanted streak in California.
One such reason is offence. San Jose has scored just 36 goals so far, tying them with the New Jersey Devils in the miserable end of the pool. When your shooting percentage in five-on-five situations is a meagre 7.9, you’re not going to get the goals – or the wins.
That becomes clearer when you realize that 11 of San Jose’s 37 goals have been on the power play. That’s right: 31 percent of the Sharks’ offence has been on the man-advantage.
Part of this comes down to shot production. You can narrow this down to simply not generating quality shots at even strength, with San Jose taking the fifth-lowest rate of shots. That, as you might expect, leads to an incredibly low degree of generated scoring chances per game.
In fact, were it not for the power play, the Sharks wouldn’t be producing much at all.
It’s easier to diagnose San Jose’s 4-10-1 record as the stuff of goaltending and that is indeed a big part of the problem. They’ve allowed 56 goals against, one fewer than the league-worst Detroit Red Wings.
The netminding tandem of Aaron Dell and Martin Jones haven’t performed well at all. Both have just two wins. Jones has nine starts, with a .887 save percentage and a 3.52 goals against average. Three of those starts have amounted to “Really Bad Starts,” which is an analytics-based way of stating that Jones’ save percentage was lower than .850.
It would be perhaps comforting to say that the Sharks have only missed the playoffs twice in the last 20 years. They’re supposed to be better than this.
But at this point and time, they’re not. And by almost every metric, save special teams, this is a San Jose squad in serious trouble. Something has to change if they want to turn this season around.
Photo credit: NHL