Sharks

Havlat set to debut on Friday

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Havlat set to debut on Friday

NEWARK, NJ Martin Havlat will make his Sharks debut on Friday in New Jersey when the team opens its long road trip against the Devils.

Todd McLellan made the announcement after the Sharks practiced at the Prudential Center on Thursday morning. Havlat visited with doctors in Cleveland on Wednesday.

Marty is playing tomorrow, said McLellan. The doctors cleared him. If anything changes between now and then, it will be a surprise to everyone.

Havlat has been unable to partake in any preseason or regular season games since undergoing left shoulder surgery in May. He is slotted to play on the right wing on the Sharks second line with Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe.

McLellan likes what he has seen of that combination in practice, but cautions that it may take some time for them to mesh during game play.

There is some chemistry there already, said the coach. Marty has been involved since training camp. There were some drills he couldnt do, but lately hes been a lot more involved in practice. Theyll have to find their rhythm with each other.

I think instincts are so important on lines, theyll have to read off of each other instinctively. That makes us faster. That may take a little while.

Havlat was being coy with reporters about his status since he spoke before McLellan did, but mentioned he is fortunate in that hes been able to practice with the team for so long.

I spent basically the whole camp on the ice with the guys, and that helps big time when youre on the ice and you can see what the coach wants, he said. During a regular season game its going to be a little different for me, but at least I know the basics of what we have to do.

"Just skating with him for a month and a half, you get to see his high end skill level, his speed, and things he can do with the puck," said Patrick Marleau. "Im looking forward to seeing that on the ice and in games."

One thing the Sharks could use is offense, especially during five-on-five, as they have just five even strength goals in four games. McLellan mentioned after the most recent loss on Monday against Anaheim that hed like to see his team "get the tempo going a bit more."

Can Havlat help in that regard?

He can, yes. Hes got a skill level thats very high. Hes played a fast game throughout his career. Will he be there in Game 1? I hope so. I dont know for sure. A lot of guys have had 10 games under their belt already.

When he does find his game, he should make us faster, and certainly more of a skilled team up front.

Something smells fishy about Sharks' early success on power play

Something smells fishy about Sharks' early success on power play

By many traditional measures, the Sharks’ power play is off to a strong start.

They’ve scored seven times on 30 opportunities, including once in Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders. That mark, 23.3%, would have been good enough for third in the league last season, and is nearly seven percent better than the Sharks were in 2016-17.

San Jose’s made some changes on the man advantage, and are getting a different look on their top power play unit with Tim Heed there instead of another forward. Second-year forward Kevin Labanc is playing a significant role on the second unit, operating as something of a focal point.

The puck’s found the net a lot for the Sharks on the power play, but a deeper look at the numbers reveals that success may be a house of cards.

According to Natural Stat Trick, San Jose ranks in the bottom third of the league in shots, shot attempts, and unblocked shot attempts per 60 minutes. Using those rates allow us to compare teams empirically, equalizing for the amount of time each team has spent on the power play. Those rates, by the way, are not very good.

And each of those are lower than last season, when the Sharks finished 25th in power play percentage. This season, the Sharks are converting more shots, despite attempting less.

It would be tempting to think San Jose can hang their helmets on higher shot quality, but they’ve struggled in that area, too. The Sharks finished just shy of the top ten in high danger chances per 60 minutes last season, but are in the bottom third of the league this season, according to Natural Stat Trick.

So the Sharks are shooting at a lower rate and generating chances at a lower rate than last season, when they had one of the league’s worst power plays, but are scoring at a much higher clip. They’ve converted on about 19% of their shots on the power play, almost doubling their conversion rate (10.5%) from a season ago.

If this doesn’t seem like a sustainable mix, that’s because it’s not. In a small sample size of seven games, the power play’s been good enough, but the Sharks can’t count on converting nearly a fifth of their power play opportunities if they continue to struggle generating shots and chances.

Of course, stranger things have happened in a hockey season, so it’s possible the Sharks can ride a sky-high shooting percentage all season long. Banking on that, however, would be foolhardy.

Sharks come up short in New York despite Couture's hat trick

Sharks come up short in New York despite Couture's hat trick

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — Anders Lee had two goals and an assist to lead the New York Islanders to a 5-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.

John Tavares had a goal and two assists, Josh Bailey added a goal and an assist, and Andrew Ladd also scored to help the Islanders win for the third time in four games. Thomas Greiss stopped 28 shots.

Logan Couture scored all three goals for the Sharks, completing the hat trick with 1:52 remaining to pull them within one. Aaron Dell finished with 18 saves.

Ladd's goal at 3:12 of the third period broke a 2-2 tie. Rookie Mathew Barzal created the scoring chance by taking the puck around the net and then setting up Ladd in the high slot for his second of the season.

Lee's second of the game and fifth of the season gave the Islanders a two-goal cushion with 8:13 remaining as he converted an odd-man rush.

Tavares sealed the win with an empty-netter with 55.4 seconds remaining and helped improve to 22-4-4 in their two-plus seasons at Barclays Center. Tavares points were his first since he had two goals and an assist Oct. 7 against Buffalo, ending a five-game drought.

The Sharks scored the game's opening goal at 6:26 of the second period on the power play. San Jose came away with the offensive draw and Couture scored from the slot, redirected Brent Burns' point shot past Greiss.

The lead lasted just over a minute as Nick Leddy worked his way to the back of the net and then quickly fed Lee for the tying goal.

The Islanders went ahead 58 seconds later after Joe Thornton made a costly turnover in his own end to give Bailey a point-blank chance. Bailey was able to sneak the puck with a backhander between his skates and past Dell to put New York ahead 2-1.

However, an impressive effort by Jannik Hansen to spin past Brock Nelson in the neutral zone led to a quick feed to Couture, who took a few strides and then fired a shot past Greiss to even the score once again.

NOTES: The Islanders held a special pregame ceremony to honor alumni of the organization who were in town for an Islanders Alumni Weekend. Among the players on the ice were Bobby Nystrom, Clark Gillies, Bryan Trottier and Ed Westfall. ... The Islanders scratched D Scott Mayfield, F Josh Ho-Sang and F Nikulay Kulemin. ... San Jose scratched F Joel Ward, F Barclay Goodrow and D Dylan Demelo. ... The Islanders honored Tragically Hip front man Gord Downie by playing music from the band during warmups. Downie passed away on Oct. 17 after succumbing to brain cancer.

UP NEXT

Sharks: At the New York Rangers on Monday night.

Islanders: Host Arizona on Tuesday night.