Sharks

Sharks spotlight: Michal Handzus

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Sharks spotlight: Michal Handzus

Editor's note: Over the next month, CSNCalifornia.com Sharks Insider Kevin Kurz and Postgame Live reporter Brodie Brazil will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in numerical order.

Sharks spotlight -- the series

Michal HandzusAge: 35 F
In his first season with the Sharks since signing a two-year deal as a free agent last summer, Michal Handzus had seven goals and 17 assists for 24 points and 18 penalty minutes. He was scoreless in two playoff games.

Kurz says: It wasnt a good season for Handzus, who was supposed to be the Sharks third-line center, provide strong, steady defensive play and contribute on the penalty kill. He did neither, and his lackluster play forced the Sharks to acquire Dominic Moore from the Tampa Bay Lightning just before the trade deadline. Although he battled some injuries down the stretch, Handzus had already fallen out of favor with the coaching staff and was only inserted into the lineup in the first round against St. Louis because Moore was unavailable.
Brodie says: It was an upbeat move to acquire Handzus as a free agent last summer. Not only had the Sharks witnessed the centerman firsthand in the postseason prior, but it also meant snatching a reliable veteran away from the division opponent L.A. Kings. However, stats prove that Handzus had one of his least productive seasons as an NHL player. Handzus played, on average, more than 14 minutes per game, and centered the third line on a regular basis for a majority of the season. He averaged 1:22 TOI shorthanded, and 1:05 TOI on the power play, per game.2012-13 expectationsKurz says: Handzus is the consummate professional, and has been for a long time. The fact that he had an ineffective year seemed to weigh on him pretty heavily. Unfortunately for the aging veteran, the game may have simply passed him by at this point in his career. Handzus still has a year left on his contract at 2.5 million and a reported no movement clause, so San Jose may be stuck with him for another season unless it decides to buy out the final year of his deal or Handzus retires. Either is a possibility.RELATED: Handzus stats splits game logs
Brodie says: What I am about to say is not a matter of making excuses for a player, but instead, bringing light to a fact which is not widely known. Handzus lost a best friend (and in fact, the best man at his wedding) Pavol Demitra, just weeks before the season began. Demitra was part of the KHLs Lokomotiv team, which tragically perished in a Russian plane crash en-route to a road game. A tragedy for the hockey community, and personal devastation for Handzus, who had to carry this weight on his own shoulders while at the same time adapting to a new team. Not to mention that with the season beginning, he lacked personal time to deal with the grief. I believe this forced Handzus behind the curve, for much of the season -- one in which he never caught up to the kind of player he truly is.My point: If there is one Shark player worth giving the benefit of the doubt, its Handzus. Put yourself in his shoes and calculate the situation. I look forward to seeing him in a much better life circumstance to start next season, than last.
Up next: Ryane Clowe

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.