Going into the New Year (and what is essentially the second half of the season), the Sharks knew one big aspect of their play had to first improve, and then stay consistent, in order for them to find success during the push to the playoffs: Special Teams.
After the 3-2 overtime loss to Vancouver on December 28 and a 6-4-3 December to forget, the Sharks ranked in the bottom five in PK percentage and somewhere in the middle of the league in PP percentage.
The penalty kill numbers weren’t too surprising. The Sharks have been in the bottom half of the league in that stat dating back to last season.
The unusual number for the Sharks this season (at least recently) has been their power play. Used to being near the top of the league, the suddenly struggling extra man was spinning its wheels but getting nowhere.
So I figured I’d take a look at their special teams in 2012. In this first installment I’ll give you a few benchmarks to refer to before diving into the San Jose’s current numbers.
Top 5 NHL PPs: between 19.5 and 23.6%
Top 5 NHL PKs: between 87.7 and 91%
To give you an idea of how important special teams are to a hockey team, Boston ranks #5 in both categories. Vancouver is top 10 in both categories.
The Sharks PK over the course of the entire 2011-2012 season?
76.5% – good for 28th in the league.
PP? 17.3% – 17th in the league.
Time to turn over a new leaf. Time to put 2011 behind them and make some serious strides going forward. Without further ado (and there’s been a few hundred words worth), I present to you the first installment of the Sharks’ New Years special teams watch.
PP last 10 games (L10): 6 for 37 – 16.2%
PK (L10): 24 for 30 – 80%
PP in 2012: 2 for 15 – 13.33%
PK in 2012: 9 for 11 – 81.8%
PK and PP in January is the same as in 2012. This’ll have more significance once we get into February.
The PK looks like it’s headed in the right direction. PP needs some work. Either way, 4 games is a small sample size. We’ll take a look at this every week to see how the boys are progressing.