After a month-long hiatus Erik Karlsson makes his return for the San Jose Sharks against their division rival the Vancouver Canucks. Prior to EK65’s injury he was scorching hot compiling 30 points in his previous 20 games.
Erik Karlsson will be on the ice for the first time in 9 games. They ended up going 6 – 3 during that span and gained some ground in the Pacific Division, however the San Jose Sharks played a lot differently with EK65 out the lineup.
All of the skaters on Team Teal picked up the slack offensively. This has solidified the notion that the San Jose Sharks have the best depth in the entire league. They had 6 players with at least 9 points over the 9 game absence. Tomas Hertl led the pack in goals (7) and points (13) and has played sensationally since his shift to center.
Tim Heed performed well filling in on the right side. He was slotted into the 2nd power play unit and was a key offensive cog logging an impressive 72.73 GF%.
A bulk of the shot generation shifted to Brent Burns and Evander Kane tallying 92 shots on goal. Still the San Jose Sharks weren’t nearly as effective in the offensive zone without Erik Karlsson in the lineup.
They recorded middle of the pack possession numbers without Erik Karlsson, with nearly average percentages across the board in terms of CF%, FF%, SCF%, and HDCF% at 5v5; when he’s in the San Jose Sharks lineup they are in the top 3 of those same statistical categories.
Not surprising things actually got worse in the net without their best defenseman on the ice. During Karlsson’s respite the team put together the leagues worst SV% at 5v5, at 88.56%. This is just slightly off of their season average of 89.73%.
When one examines these underlying numbers they don’t really correlate with a team that was able to win 6 straight games in a row without their best player. So how exactly did they do it?
The San Jose Sharks found a way to generate offense despite their league average possession metrics and shot generation because of their ridiculous quality shot shooting percentage. Since 1/17/19 the San Jose Sharks led the league in both high danger shooting percentage (29.51%) and scoring chance shooting percentage (19.27%) at 5v5. Essentially when this team brings the puck in tight they’ve converted their chances at a monstrous rate.
Players like Kevin Labanc and Tomas Hertl have been benefiting the most from this lucky streak. They’ve both tallied a hat trick and are riding career high shooting percentages this season. If the San Jose Sharks perpetuate these stellar shooting percentages, and with Erik Karlsson returning to the everyday lineup Team Teal’s chances of getting home ice advantage increase exponentially.
They are in a tight divisional race with the Flames and still have to compete with Nashville and Winnipeg for 1st overall. But as long as EK65 remains healthy there isn’t a team in the league that can match up with this team’s extremely deep roster.
All of the statistics in this post were provided by naturalstattrick.com unless stated otherwise.