Sharks winning despite power play futility

Sharks winning despite power play futility
March 10, 2014, 5:15 pm
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We’ve got a group in here that can obviously produce on the power play, and we need to. That’s the bottom line.
Joe Pavelski

SAN JOSE – On one hand, the Sharks power play has been generally miserable for the last 15 games, scoring just two goals in 48 opportunities. It’s sunk to 21st overall in the NHL at 16.2 percent.

On the other, San Jose continues to win hockey games, and after Saturday’s 4-0 triumph over Montreal, the Sharks sit tied for fourth overall in the NHL with 89 points. They are 6-1-1 in their last eight games, including two wins entering the Olympic break.

Nearing full health again, the Sharks are proving once again be among the best teams in the league. The penalty kill has been a strong suit for most of the season, sitting sixth overall in the NHL, and at five-on-five the Sharks are also sixth (1.19 goals scored per goal surrendered).

Get the power play going, and they could go from dangerous to deadly.

“We’re finding a way to win games right now without the power play, and I think that’s a positive," Tommy Wingels said. “Our PK has been a big reason for that. Guys are working hard and really taking pride in that aspect of the game. The power play will come around. I think guys have proven in this room they can be successful on the power play. It’s just a matter of putting it together.”

Joe Pavelski, the team leader with 11 power play goals, said: “We’ve got a group in here that can obviously produce on the power play, and we need to. That’s the bottom line.”

San Jose has allowed just four power play goals against in its last eight games, in 26 opportunities. They’ve scored shorthanded goals in back-to-back outings, and have four total in the last 10 games.

In other words, the penalty kill is out scoring the power play by a two-to-one margin since Jan. 23.

“Odd stat,” Marc-Edouard Vlasic said. “Maybe we tell our power play we don’t need you, we’ll take penalties.”

Vlasic said that with a smile, but took a more serious tone when discussing the power play’s struggles, considering the playoffs are a little more than a month away.

“We need it to be better than what it is, because in the playoffs, we’ll need it,” he said. “We can always rely on our penalty kill and our five-on-five, but the power play creates momentum. If the other team wants to take liberties or take a penalty, we’ve got to make them pay. Playoffs it’s huge. You make them pay and you might win the series.”

At Monday’s practice, the team spent a good portion of its skate working on special teams.

Todd McLellan pointed out that the power play moved the puck well and generated chances against the Penguins last Thursday in a 5-3 win, despite not finding the back of the net in four chances. That wasn’t the case against the Canadiens, as the 0-for-6 was reflective of that unit’s performance.

“The Pittsburgh game we didn’t score, but throw those numbers out. They were lights-out,” McLellan said. “The way they moved it around, the way they got the puck back, the chances they created, the momentum that was created by it. The next night we [were] ragged, and the ragged games are going to happen, but, too many of them. It has to be better over the next few months for us to have success. There’s no doubt about it.”

Logan Couture said: “We’ve got the talent in here to be a lot better than that, so we need to start showing it.”