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.