Sharks

NHL Gameday: Sharks' Boedker appears to be in; McDavid slumping

NHL Gameday: Sharks' Boedker appears to be in; McDavid slumping

Programming note – Sharks-Oilers coverage starts today at 7:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on NBC Sports California

SERIES SCHEDULE

The best-of-seven series is tied, two games apiece.

Game 1: Sharks 3, Oilers 2 (OT)
Game 2: Oilers 2, Sharks 0
Game 3: Oilers 1, Sharks 0
Game 4: Sharks 7, Oilers 0
Game 5: Thursday, April 20, Sharks @ Oilers (7:30 p.m.)
Game 6: Saturday, April 22, Oilers @ Sharks (7:30 p.m.)
*Game 7: Monday, April 24, Sharks @ Oilers (TBD)

* - if necessary

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***The Sharks will apparently make one lineup change, as Mikkel Boedker will replace Joonas Donskoi, who remained on the practice ice late with the other scratches. Boedker has sat out the previous two games, and is scoreless with a minus-one rating. Donskoi has one assist and a minus-three rating in four games.

***After they were shut out in games two and three, the Sharks’ offense came alive in a 7-0 beat down of the Oilers in Game 4 at SAP Center. Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture had two goals apiece, and the Sharks went 4-for-8 on the power play. It was the most lopsided Sharks playoff win in franchise history.

The Sharks scored seven goals in a playoff win for the third time in playoff history. They’ve lost the two previous series in which that’s occurred – 1999 vs. Colorado, and 2014 vs. Los Angeles.

***Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl earned a fine but escaped suspension for his spearing of Chris Tierney, and will be back in the lineup tonight on Connor McDavid’s wing. The league’s eighth-leading scorer in the regular season has no points through four games.

***McDavid still has yet to break through in the series, with just one shorthanded goal and a secondary assist on the power play. Held off the scoresheet in games three and four, he has never gone three straight games in his NHL career without a point.

***April 20 marks the two-year anniversary that the Sharks fired head coach Todd McLellan and assistants Jay Woodcroft and Jim Johnson. All are now with the Oilers.

***Martin Jones’ shutout in Game 4 was his first since the 2016 playoffs, when he had three during the Sharks’ lengthy run. 

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Mikkel Boedker. Assuming he draws back in, Boedker will be trying to make an impact after he was a healthy scratch in games three and four. The 26-year-old was a healthy scratch once in the regular season on Jan. 5, and responded with four goals in his next two games - including a hat trick in Edmonton on Jan. 10. There were no hints as to which line he would play on, but skating with Logan Couture and Jannik Hansen is probably the likliest place.

Oilers: Patrick Maroon. While McDavid’s struggles have been in the spotlight, his linemate, Maroon, has done even less. The winger is scoreless in four games with a minus-two rating, has taken some bad penalties, and will apparently be skating on the third line tonight.

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Mikkel Boedker – Logan Couture – Jannik Hansen
Melker Karlsson – Tomas Hertl – Timo Meier
Marcus Sorensen – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward

Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Oilers
Drake Caggiula – Connor McDavid – Leon Draisaitl
Milan Lucic – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Patrick Maroon – Mark Letestu – Zack Kassian
Benoit Pouliot – David Desharnais – Anton Slepyshev

Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Andrej Sekera – Kris Russell
Darnell Nurse – Matt Benning

Cam Talbot (starter)
Laurent Brossoit

INJURIES

Sharks: None.

Oilers: Tyler Pitlick (torn ACL) is out.

SHARKS PLAYOFF RECORD WHEN…

The Sharks are 6-9 all-time when a series is tied at two games apiece. They are 9-3 all-time when leading a series three games to two, and 1-10 all-time when trailing three-games-to-two.

The Sharks have an all-time Game 5 record of 16-16, including 6-11 on the road.

QUOTEABLE

“Their big boys stepped and had a game. It’s up to us, especially our key guys, to step up and have a game for our hockey club. I don’t think we’ve stepped up yet in this series. We get an opportunity to do that in Game 5 at home.” - Milan Lucic

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.