Surprise, surprise: The San Jose Sharks are having another fantastic regular season, with a record of 43-17-7.
As soon as they participate in the playoffs, however, their well-built roster seems to falter and they suffer an annoyingly tough loss to a team like the Los Angeles Kings.
This year will be different, right? The Sharks are one of the best teams in the NHL now, but if they want to avoid another premature playoff exit, they need to work on a crucial aspect of their offensive game: the power play.
Before Thursday night’s win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in shootout, the Sharks had been 0-for-22 on the power play in their previous seven games. They are now 3-for-57 in their last 57 attempts.
Although they still maintain a great record, I’m sure they would have quite a bit more success now if they connected on some of those power plays. As of now, this is one of the few glaring holes in their game, and a championship-caliber team cannot have any glaring holes.
The only reason that this isn’t a bigger issue is because their penalty-killing unit is top-notch. At one point during the season over a stretch of 16 games, the Sharks tallied twice as many short-handed goals as power-play goals. Yikes.
Coach Todd McLellan had this to say of his team’s power play:
It’s frustrating with that type of talent you put on the ice that’s been together that long. I’m not pulling any punches or candy-coating it. It has to be better.
He went on to say that the Sharks need to improve their power-play to see some success in the playoffs. It may not be a huge problem at the time being, but in the playoffs, where every little thing matters — even 0.1 seconds — these are the types of things that are going to end up costing yet another championship or deep playoff run.
If they want to have separation, or just to stuff the stat sheet more, strengthening the chance of a win, the Sharks need to focus on their power play. The penalty-kill is among the best in the NHL, but come playoff time, you can almost always throw statistics right out the window. The playoffs are completely different and every little thing matters.
If the Sharks are so composed and solid that they can win without capitalizing on these opportunities, the will surely see even more success if able to connect. Well-roundedness proves to be beneficial in almost every circumstance.