Sharks

Changes to power play units paying off for Sharks

Changes to power play units paying off for Sharks

Tim Heed’s power play goal in the Sharks’ Saturday night win over the Winnipeg Jets was just the third time this season San Jose scored power play goals in consecutive games.

The last time was on November 1, and San Jose’s power play units look much different than they did then. Since Danny O’Regan was called up on November 18, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer has spread the wealth, splitting up the core four of Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, and Joe Thornton.

The moves have paid off handsomely.

Since O’Regan was called up, San Jose is 3-for-11 with the man advantage. That 27.3 percent clip is tied for the league’s ninth-best mark over that stretch, even though they’ve had the eighth-fewest opportunities.

The Sharks have had a hot power play before, but their early success was not built to last. That’s not the case this time around, as San Jose generating much more offense.

No team has attempted shots, or put pucks on net, at a higher rate than San Jose since November 18, according to Corsica Hockey. Before DeBoer broke up the power play groups, the Sharks attempted 86.98 shots per hour, and 46.93 shots on goal per 60 minutes.

After the changes, San Jose’s attempted 164.43 shots every 60 minutes, and 83.97 shots per hour. That’s a massive swing, which is at least partially driven by a small sample size, as we’re comparing nearly 108 minutes on the power play before the changes and just over 17 after.

It’d be foolish to expect the difference to remain that stark as the Sharks spend more time on the power play, but the early returns are nonetheless encouraging. If San Jose can continue to improve on the power play, they won’t have to solely rely on their defense and penalty killing to overcome their lack of even strength offense.

They’ll have a great opportunity to keep it up on their upcoming four-game road trip. The Sharks’ next four opponents, Philadelphia, Florida, Tampa Bay, and Washington, rank 28th, 31st, 12th, and 23rd, respectively, in penalty kill percentage.

After showing signs of decline on the man advantage over the previous two years and a slow start this season, changes to the power play were overdue. Better late than never, as the Sharks are finally showing signs of life on the man advantage.

Sharks lose in Vancouver for first time since 2012

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USATSI

Sharks lose in Vancouver for first time since 2012

BOX SCORE

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Sam Gagner scored at 4:34 of overtime and the Vancouver Canucks snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Friday night.

Gagner beat Martin Jones with a nice backhand move on a breakaway for his fourth of the season after a feed from Alexander Edler. It was Gagner's first goal in nine games.

Markus Granlund scored twice and Brock Boeser also had a goal in regulation for Vancouver (15-14-4). Henrik Sedin and brother Daniel Sedin each added three assists. Jacob Markstrom made 34 saves.

Brent Burns scored two goals and Marcus Sorenson had one for San Jose (17-10-4). Martin Jones stopped 36 shots for the Sharks, who were playing their second game in two nights after Thursday's 3-2 road victory over the Calgary Flames.

San Jose had won 11 straight at Rogers Arena dating back to the Canucks' last victory on home ice over their Pacific Division rivals all the way back on Jan. 21, 2012. Vancouver was 0-9-2 over that stretch while getting outscored 41-14.

Leading 3-2 through 40 minutes, the Canucks nearly restored their two-goal lead four minutes into the third, but Jones stretched to make a great pad save on Thomas Vanek.

The Sharks mustered only one shot through the first 13 minutes of the final period, but got the equalizer with 5:49 left in regulation when Burns' point shot went off the skate of Canucks defenseman Alex Biega in front and beat Markstrom for his second of the night, sixth of the season and fifth in five games.

Coming off Wednesday's embarrassing 7-1 loss at home to Nashville, the Canucks stormed out of the gate against the Sharks and led 2-1 after the first period before Boeser stretched the lead to two.

The NHL's rookie scoring leader ripped a shot over Jones' shoulder on the power play at 11:56 of the second for his 17th, moments after slicing through the Sharks' defense and ringing a shot off the post.

San Jose got that one back with 1:44 left in the period when former Canucks forward Jannik Hansen started a sequence that ended with Sorenson netting his first past Markstrom.

Already minus five regulars, including two-thirds of their top line with Bo Horvat (broken foot) and Sven Baertschi (broken jaw) out long-term, the Canucks announced Friday morning that shutdown defenseman Christopher Tanev will miss two to three weeks with a groin strain.

Granlund, who came in with one goal in his last 12 games, opened the scoring 44 seconds in on the power play. Daniel Sedin redirected a slap pass in the slot from Henrik Sedin right to Granlund at the side of the net, and he beat Jones between the legs for his fifth.

Vancouver could have easily been up by two or three moments later as the Canucks led 10-0 in shots after just five minutes.

San Jose, which came in 7 for 21 on the power play over its last four games to climb from tied for 24th overall to tied for 11th, tested Markstrom five times on its first man-advantage opportunity before finally breaking through after Vancouver took another penalty.

The Sharks won an offensive-zone faceoff back to Burns, who snapped his fifth past Markstrom at 10:45.

Markstrom stopped San Jose's Chris Tierney on a short-handed breakaway later in the period before Granlund scored his second of the night seconds after the penalty expired. Daniel Sedin's initial shot fell at the top of the crease to Henrik Sedin, who tapped it over for Granlund to put into a wide-open net at 14:27.

NOTES: Canucks center Brandon Sutter and defenseman Erik Gudbranson remain sidelined with upper-body injuries. Vancouver is also without wing Derek Dorsett, who ended his playing career late last month due to spinal problems. ... San Jose forward Joel Ward got an assist on Burns' second goal of the night for his 300th career point in his 700th NHL game.

UP NEXT

Sharks: Monday night at Edmonton.

Canucks: Sunday at home against Calgary.

Check out this hilarious Sharks Christmas music video

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Check out this hilarious Sharks Christmas music video

Everyone knows the classic Christmas songs. Your family probably plays the same tunes year in and year out. 

It's time for the something fresh. 

The San Jose Sharks are here to bring some new flavor to Christmas spirit. On Friday, the team re-released the music video you all need to see, with their song "Holiday Sweater." Turn the volume up for this one.

Merry Christmas and good luck getting that jingle out of your head.