Diving Deeper: San Jose Sharks Expected Defensive Pairings

SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 18: Joe Pavelski #8 of the San Jose Sharks receives the game puck from Sharks alumni Igor Larionov, as Larionov is honored in tonight alumni night against Erik Karlsson #65 of the Ottawa Senators during a NHL game at the SAP Center at San Jose on January 18, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Don Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 18: Joe Pavelski #8 of the San Jose Sharks receives the game puck from Sharks alumni Igor Larionov, as Larionov is honored in tonight alumni night against Erik Karlsson #65 of the Ottawa Senators during a NHL game at the SAP Center at San Jose on January 18, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Don Smith/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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LAS VEGAS, NV – APRIL 28: Brent Burns #88 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates with teammates on the bench after scoring a power-play goal against the Vegas Golden Knights in the second period of Game Two of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on April 28, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV – APRIL 28: Brent Burns #88 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates with teammates on the bench after scoring a power-play goal against the Vegas Golden Knights in the second period of Game Two of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on April 28, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Special Teams

During the 2017-2018 campaign, the San Jose Sharks maintained strong power play and penalty kill units. Now, with Erik Karlsson, San Jose’s special teams will see an elevated level of intensity and ingenuity.

The Sharks held a 20.6% scoring on the man-advantage, ranking in the middle of the pack last season. However, injuries and cold streaks in the second half of the season led to late dip as the Sharks were a top-five power play team in the league prior to then.

With Burns and Karlsson quarterbacking the top unit of the power play, San Jose possesses two incredible threats from the point. Alongside the two Norris Trophy-winning defensemen, Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, and Logan Couture round out the first line of the man-advantage.

Vlasic will anchor the second unit from the blue line with forwards Tomas Hertl, Evander Kane, Timo Meier, and Joonas Donskoi.

On the other side, the Sharks controlled one of the best penalty kill units in the league with an 84.8%, which placed second behind the Los Angeles Kings. While Burns and Karlsson seem like the best starting option, Vlasic and Braun specialize on defense and hold a firmer ground in taking the first wave of the opponent’s man-advantage. Burns and Karlsson should follow with the second penalty kill pair as a heavy, dynamic duo.

Next. What to Expect out of the Other EK. dark

San Jose’s defense is stronger than ever before, stacking up to compete as the best in the NHL.  With complete three blue line pairings, the time is now to take this formidable defensive team through the playoffs and finally claim what the franchise has been waiting for a long time: Lord Stanley’s Cup.