The talk surrounding the San Jose Sharks in the past week usually includes dramatic banter about the loss of Joe Thornton.
Does it sting? Of course it does, but the San Jose Sharks can absolutely survive this loss.
Joe Thornton brings tremendous skill and vision to the ice, as well as taking a significant amount of attention while he’s out there. He’s a big part of the offense, but all we’re talking about is managing and surviving without the former captain.
Let’s have a quick look at how the last three games have worked out at 5v5.
- Shot attempts: 55-49 in favor of San Jose
- 3.7% shooting percentage (27 shots)
- .970 save percentage
Shot attempts: 46-46 draw
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0% shooting percentage (29 shots)
.885 save percentage
New York Rangers
- Shot attempts: 50-44 in favor of San Jose
- 17.4% shooting percentage (23 shots)
- .833 save percentage
All three games were losses, with the Sharks getting a loser point against Detroit. On the surface it doesn’t look pretty but the Sharks struggles without Thornton are basically the same as they were before the injury.
In one of three games they had a bunch of luck shooting the puck – an anomaly for the season. They also enjoyed one of three games sporting a tremendous save percentage at 5v5, also an anomaly for the year.
The positive – and what should be the focus – is how the Sharks are controlling the puck. All three games were 50% or greater, which is exactly where you want to be. The three games combined are a 52.1% corsi-for. They’re still in the right direction.
A Little Context
If we switch to score-adjusted Fenwick we’ll find 15 other teams, in the same time frame, with at least 50% for. Of those 15 teams, 13 have played three games. Of those 13 teams, 10 have at least three points in three games. One team has two, another with one and the final team has zero.
Possession has a history of being a driving force behind winning hockey games. The Sharks can’t control lucky bounces, but they can control the puck and they’re doing just that.
There’s no need to shift the plan when it comes to the trade deadline as they stand right now. San Jose should still move forward looking for a depth center and scoring wingers. If the possession side of things drops off significantly in the next three weeks then maybe the plan needs to change.
For now, though, if they continue to play the way they are and don’t panic and make nonsensical adjustments then they’ll come out of the Thornton injury relatively unscathed.