Sharks -- Midseason Report Part 2


Sharks -- Midseason Report Part 2

Everyone's eyes are still on Ottawa, but we have part 2 of our Sharks midseason recap here for you. We shift our attention to the attacking side with contributions made in the first half of the season and what can be expected moving forward.
Ryane Clowe Stats Splits Game Logs
Season so far: Clowes 26 points are lower than he and the coaching staff would probably like, but the Sharks recent offensive woes can probably be traced somewhat to Clowes injury. In the last five games, the Sharks have just seven goals, and Logan Couture plays his best hockey when Clowe is on his wing. Even Marleau seemed to thrive with Clowe during a brief stretch in November when Marleau was centering the second line.
Second half outlook: The Sharks have to hope that Clowes injury wont keep him out much longer after the All Star break, or the team could continue to struggle on the scoreboard in the short-term.

Logan Couture Stats Splits Game Logs
Season so far: No sophomore slump here, as Couture is the Sharks most natural goal-scorer, and fits in with the teams other star players, according to Todd McLellan. Hes the clubs lone All-Star, plays in both ends of the ice, kills penalties, and continues to emerge as one of the leagues top young talents.
Second half outlook: Couture has an outside chance to crack the 40-goal mark this year if he gets hot, and the Sharks will continue to lean on him to put the puck at the net. Hes shown he can handle that extra pressure that wasnt necessarily on his shoulders last season when he took the league by storm.

RELATED: Sharks -- midseason statistical analysis
Andrew Desjardins Stats Splits Game Logs
Season so far: One of the bigger success stories this season. Desjardins has been steadily improving since scoring twice on opening night against Phoenix, and has seen his ice time increase because of it. His consistency and responsibility are also big reasons that San Joses fourth line has outplayed the opponents fourth line on most nights.
Second half outlook: Desjardins has been getting time on the penalty kill and filling in on the teams top line while it deals with injuries. Its good experience for the 25-year-old, who will go back to his regular place centering the fourth line when the team gets healthy.

Benn Ferriero Stats Splits Game Logs
Season so far: Ferriero hasnt been lighting up the scoreboard while skating on the second line, but you have to give him credit hes scored some big goals, including the game-winner in Boston in October and the only marker against Calgary on Tuesday. Still, hes not noticeable enough on a game-in game-out basis to say hes going to be a regular in the lineup when Ryane Clowe and Marty Havlat return.
Second half outlook: Ferriero isnt exempt from waivers anymore, so when the Sharks get healthy up front it will be interesting to see what happens with him. He doesnt fit on the third or fourth lines.

Michal Handzus Stats Splits Game Logs
Season so far: Off of the ice, players like Jamie McGinn and coach Todd McLellan have spoken of Handzus professionalism and work-ethic. Still, Handzus has just three goals and was brought in specifically to help the penalty kill, which despite recent improvement, is just 27th in the NHL at the All-Star break.
Second half outlook: Handzus five-on-five ice time has been dwindling, another reason the Sharks may need to upgrade at forward. In fact, in Calgary on Tuesday, Handzus was taking shifts on the fourth line a strong sign that the coaching staff wants more from the former Los Angeles King.

Martin Havlat Stats Splits Game Logs
Season so far: Havlats injury only exacerbated his poor start in a Sharks uniform. He missed training camp and the first four games of the season and had five assists in his first four games, but from there, was unnoticeable on the ice too often. He has shown flashes of the speed and skill that everyone knows he has, and has even been the best player on the ice for a couple games, but its been a disappointing season for Havlat.
Second half outlook: The Sharks are planning on getting Havlat back in plenty of time for the stretch run, which probably means early March. For a team that already lacks depth up front, hes going to have to produce more than he did before he got hurt.

Patrick Marleau Stats Splits Game Logs
Season so far: Streaky. Marleau was among the Sharks best forwards during its 10-1-2 run in December and January. Now, he takes a six-game scoreless streak into the All-Star break. Still, hes the Sharks second leading scorer, and its easy to overlook the fact he has as many points (36) as Logan Couture.
Second half outlook: Although he had some productive games centering the second line in November, including a hat trick in Colorado on Nov. 20, Marleau will still see most of his time on the wing with either Thornton or Couture in the middle. Hell have his share of dominant games and his share of unproductive ones, too.

Jamie McGinn Stats Splits Game Logs
Season so far: McGinn has shown a marked improvement from last season, and is one of the few forwards on the team with the ability to deliver a big-time hit. His best hockey is when hes on the third line, usually with Torrey Mitchell and Michal Handzus, and has struggled when Todd McLellan tries putting him anywhere else.
Second half outlook: Even with the Sharks down two of their top six forwards, McGinn is locked in on that third line. Expecting him to put another nine goals in the net in the second half of the season may be a little optimistic.

Torrey Mitchell Stats Splits Game Logs
Season so far: Its a big year for Mitchell as he prepares to under unrestricted free agency at the end of the year. You would think that would have given him a greater sense of urgency, but it appears it took him getting scratched on Jan. 5 to light a fire underneath him. Since then, hes been playing his best hockey of the year and has been much more consistent.
Second half outlook: Expect Mitchells name to come up around the trade deadline, if not sooner, if the Sharks are serious about upgrading at the wing. If not, Mitchell needs to display the same energy he did in the two and a half weeks leading up to the All-Star break in order to be effective.

Andrew Murray Stats Splits Game Logs
Season so far: The fourth line journeyman has shown good speed at times, and brings good energy to the fourth line when hes skating. Hes probably just what the Sharks expected when he joined the team in the offseason nothing more, nothing less.
Second half outlook: Murray was in and out of the lineup in the weeks leading up the break, as players like Andrew Desjardins and Brad Winchester are more effective on a nightly basis than is Murray.

Joe Pavelski Stats Splits Game Logs
Season so far: Pavelski got off to a flying start and found himself among the league leaders in goals through October. He has just five markers in the last 23 games, though, and has probably not been as consistent over the last two months as the coaching staff would like since he was promoted to the Joe Thornton line this offseason.
Second half outlook: Pavelski has a knack for creating scoring chances when hes on his game, and is small and spunky enough that he can find some goals in front of the net when he has the desire to get there. He just has to do it on a nightly basis.

Joe Thornton Stats Splits Game Logs
Season so far: When questioned recently about his lack of production on the power play this season, a place hes thrived in his career, Thornton pointed out that 5-on-5 the Sharks have been outstanding. Thats true and Thorntons 13 is a reflection that hes been pretty good when it comes to defense. Still, the captain has been invisible more often than in recent years, has struggled with giveaways, and if the power play is going to improve its going to have to be Thornton leading the way.
Second half outlook: Thornton assisted on a pair of Sharks power play goals in Vancouver and Edmonton just before the break, which is a good sign that unit will improve in the second half. It has to, if the Sharks are going to be serious contenders.
Brad Winchester Stats Splits Game Logs
Season so far: Winchester made a few new fans in the stands and with his teammates, as well, when he fought Dane Byers after Byers illegally hit Andrew Desjardins in Columbus. Hes got a wicked shot when he gets open, will drop the gloves, and has been a key component on the fourth line.
Second half outlook: Winchester is nothing more than a fourth line player, but that line has been effective most of the year. Dont be surprised to see Winchester sign an extension with the team at some point before the regular season ends (hes set to be an unrestricted free agent).

Sharks have tall task against Penguins, who are in Stanley Cup form


Sharks have tall task against Penguins, who are in Stanley Cup form

The Sharks witnessed firsthand the emergence of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia native Nathan Mackinnon as a legitimate superstar in a loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday. Naturally, their reward is to face the NHL's first superstar from the area on Saturday. 

And of course, much like Mackinnon, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is playing some of the best hockey of his career. 

In 2018, no player has scored more points than the three-time Stanley Cup champion (15). In fact, three of the top five scorers in the new year skate in the Steel City: Evgeni Malkin is tied for third with 13 points, and Phil Kessel is right behind him in a tie for fifth with 12 points. 

The trio has powered the Penguins to a three-point lead on the Eastern Conference's final Wild Card spot. As recently as New Year's Eve, though, the Penguins were seventh place in the loaded Metropolitan Division, and three points back of the postseason. 

It was always a matter of 'when' rather than 'if' Pittsburgh would turn it on. Fatigue was always a possibility, as the back-to-back champions have played at least 13 more postseason games (49) than any other team in the league over the last two seasons, but any concerns seem firmly in the rearview mirror at the moment. 

The same cannot necessarily be said about the Sharks, whom the Penguins dispatched in six games in San Jose's first Stanley Cup Final appearance. Yes, they've won three out of four since the bye week, but haven't played all that well in the process.

Two of those wins came against the lowly Coyotes, and San Jose has barely out-possesed their opponents (50.74 five-on-five corsi-for percentage; 51.22 fenwick-for percentage, according to Corsica Hockey). They're scoring nearly a goal more per 60 minutes of five-on-five play (2.69) than before the bye (1.85), but are allowing nearly one-and-a-quarter more goals (3.58 five-on-five GA/60) than before the bye week (2.24).

The latter is, at least in part, because Martin Jones is not playing well. The Conn Smythe-like form that kept the Sharks in it against the Penguins two Junes ago has largely eluded him this season, and injury may have played a part. 

Jones is day-to-day with a minor injury, according to the Bay Area News Group's Paul Gackle, and the team recalled goaltender Troy Grosenick from the San Jose Barracuda on Friday as a result. That leaves Aaron Dell in net as the last line of defense against the Penguins. 

With Pittsburgh looking a lot like the team that celebrated a Stanley Cup win on San Jose's home ice two postseasons ago, stopping them will be a tall task. 

DeBoer's defense of Jones doesn't paint the whole picture


DeBoer's defense of Jones doesn't paint the whole picture

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer passionately defended goaltender Martin Jones following San Jose's 5-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night. For the eighth time in his last 14 starts, Jones allowed four goals, but DeBoer tried to take a look at the bigger picture. 

"You guys like to grab little pictures of things that work for the story your writing," DeBoer told reporters in Denver after he was asked about Jones' recent struggles. 

"It's 14 games. You can go back six games and write whatever story you want. He's having a great year for us. Our goaltending has been excellent all year."

If you look at his save percentage, Jones is not having a great season.

His save percentage in all situations (.9097) is the lowest in his three seasons in teal, and ranks 22nd out of the 34 goalies that have played 1000 minutes in all situations, according to Corsica Hockey. His five-on-five save percentage (.9147) is also the lowest of his teal tenure, and sits 26th out of 30 goalies that have played 1000 five-on-five minutes. 

But save percentage doesn't always tell the whole story, as it doesn't take into account shot quality. As we've written previously, Jones has played behind a loose defense this season.

Among those aforementioned 30 goalies, Jones has faced the highest percentage of high-danger shots, the second-highest percentage of medium-danger shots, and fourth-lowest percentage of low-danger shots. 

Luckily, there's a metric that does take into account shot quality: goals saved above average (GSAA). GSAA works much like Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in baseball, and considers how well a league-average goaltender would do "based on the shot danger faced," according to Corsica's definition.

Jones has been better than his save percentage would indicate. His 0.54 five-on-five GSAA ranks 17th out of the 30 goalies that have played 1000 five-on-five minutes, and his all situations GSAA (8.69) ranks 11th out of 34 goalies that have played 1000 minutes in all situations. 

GSAA has the same downside as WAR, in that it's an accumulative statistic, and favors players that have played more. In order to equalize for playing time, we can look at GSAA/30 shots faced. 

Jones ranks 17th and 10th in five-on-five (0.03) and all situations (0.31) GSAA/30, respectively, among goaltenders that have played 1000 minutes in such circumstances. In other words, Jones has been about average during five-on-five play, and one of the league's better goalies across all situations, at least based on the kind of shots he's faced.

That's not neccessarily "great," but Jones has been better on the whole than his recent play would indicate. Of course, he's also been outplayed in his own crease.

Backup goaltender Aaron Dell not only boasts a higher save percentage than Jones, but his GSAA/30 in five-on-five situations (0.15) and across all strengths (0.44) are also higher than Jones'. Every 30 shots on the penalty kill, Dell (2.05 GSAA/30) saves nearly a goal more than Jones (1.06). 

DeBoer also acknowledged that Dell will have to play more out of necessity, with the Sharks halfway through a stretch of eight games in 13 days. That includes a difficult back-to-back this weekend, hosting the Penguins Saturday and facing the Ducks in Anaheim on Sunday. 

The coach was on to something on Thursday. Yes, Jones has been better than his recenty play, and his season-long save percentage, would indicate. 

But that doesn't mean he's been "great," nor does it mean he's San Jose's better option in net right now.