Special teams is a huge aspect of hockey that cannot be overlooked. Take too many penalties and sooner or later you’re bound to give up a goal or two. Power plays can build huge momentum to help a team succeed in a game.
That said, for the San Jose Sharks recently, their penalty kill has been great. They rank among the top-10 (6th overall) in the league while being short handed. Whether it’s blocking shots or taking away the passing and shooting lanes and clearing it down ice, they’ve shown to be a great penalty-killing team.
So, just why have the Sharks been struggling on the man-advantage?
Earlier in the season I wrote an article on the Sharks’ ability to execute in the game. What it all comes down to is execution, plain and simple. It’s the small things that matter. It’s what the coaches always preach along with polish. It starts from the puck drop because that’s where puck possession starts. Then, from there the coaches look at puck placement and positioning.
One other key for the Sharks on the man-advantage is direct plays versus indirect plays, which CSN color analyst Drew Remenda has mentioned so many times. Direct plays are just dumping the puck in the zone and shooting the puck on net, and crashing hard to the net for those rebound opportunities. The same can be said on the rush. It’s simplifying their game. It’s doing the little things right and making the right decisions. It’s not trying to force the puck into defensive pressure. The bottom line is they have to make smart plays and not hesitate to shoot when they have the puck.
Hopefully the Sharks’ man-advantage will be a lot better soon come playoff time, because a continually slumping power play could very well hinder their chances of bringing the Cup to San Jose.