Staying out of penalty box key for Sharks

Staying out of penalty box key for Sharks
April 19, 2013, 12:30 pm
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When you can play four (lines), you have an opportunity on the bench to catch your breath, and stay fresh.
—Todd McLellan on how his team has stayed out of penalty box

SAN JOSE – One of the more overlooked reasons the Sharks have been able to put together a 11-2-1 mark in their last 14 games, surging up the standings to the point that they have virtually assured themselves of a playoff spot, is that they have been able to remain out of the penalty box.

Beginning with the game in Anaheim on March 25, the Sharks have been shorthanded a total of just 29 times. That includes Thursday night’s 6-1 win over Minnesota in which San Jose was not shorthanded at all, the second time that’s happened over that span (April 1 vs. Vancouver, a 3-2 win, was the other).

How have they been able to play so disciplined and remain at full strength so often? Todd McLellan has a couple theories.

“We talk a lot about checking using our legs. What does that mean? Keep skating, keep your legs underneath you, and don’t reach in and water-ski. We’ve done a good job,” he said.

“We’ve been able to play four lines, which helps, too. When you can play four, you have an opportunity on the bench to catch your breath, and stay fresh.”

The Sharks have won the special teams battle in six of the 14 games. They've lost it just twice, on April 5 against Calgary and April 16 vs. the Kings, winning both games.

For the season, the Sharks are second in the league in special teams time-on-ice differential, skating 41 minutes and nine seconds more on the power play than on the penalty kill. That trails only Montreal (48:49).

San Jose hasn't allowed more than one power play goal in a game in nearly two months. On Feb. 23 in Dallas, the Stars were 2-for-6 and went on to beat the Sharks, 3-1.