Thornton's power play numbers tumble


Thornton's power play numbers tumble

SAN JOSE The success or failure of a teams power play unit is not one mans responsibility. Lets get that out of the way first.

But a closer look at team captain Joe Thorntons production, or lack thereof this season, provides a window into that Sharks recent trouble with a man advantage.

The Sharks are now just 10-for-82 on the power play since Nov. 26 (12.2 percent), a span of 25 games. To put that in perspective, the Montreal Canadiens own the leagues worst power play at 12.3 percent.

Thornton has just one power play goal and two power play assists over that same time frame.

Thornton has thrived in his career on the power play, as the chart below shows. This year its been the opposite. He has just seven points (1g, 6a), placing him in a tie for 137th in the league in power play points after he finished in the Top 10 in four of his previous six seasons in San Jose (including 2005-06, when he came over mid-season from Boston).

Whats wrong?

Weve put him in a different position on the breakout, which is one, and weve talked about returning him back there, Todd McLellan said on Thursday. Secondly, that group, or that five-some, just hasnt produced as much. You can look at some of the opportunities, and Jumbo in particular, where hes had open nets. We can refer back to a few games, and he either hasnt beared down or the goaltender has made one heck of a save."

Sometimes it goes really good and sometimes it just doesnt, Thornton said. I think right now, for whatever reason, its just not going in the back of the net. Weve still got a lot of time, and theres always parts of your game that you guys (the media) are asking like how come your 5-on-5 is not good, or your penalty kill? Its one of those things where hopefully it can get going.

The Sharks power play has dropped to 19th in the NHL (16.9 percent), after finishing second last season (23.5 percent).

Im still concerned with our power play, McLellan said, before his team went 0-for-3 in Thursday nights loss to Ottawa. I think it can be much better. Is that number 19s responsibility? Partly, but theres four other players that are on the ice at that given time.

The band only works when its all playing in unison. Its not one guy strumming away, its all five guys playing at the same time.

Even so, if the power play is going to start producing, Thornton is certainly going to have to play a major role.

I think Jumbo would like to have more production there, and hes the focal point. Its his power play; it runs through him, McLellan said.

Theres other pieces in the mix, and they have to be productive, and when were short staffed or lose some key offensive players, thats the time to make hay is the power play. On this three game road trip, well need a productive power play to have success.

Joe Thonton's power play numbers through the years:

NHL Rank

Labanc, Sharks overcoming even strength scoring woes


Labanc, Sharks overcoming even strength scoring woes

Kevin Labanc’s first period goal in the Sharks’ Sunday win over the Ducks certainly didn’t look like it was just his fifth of the season, or only his third since opening night.

The 22-year-old, sprung in alone on a breakaway, sold Anaheim goaltender John Gibson on a fake shot with a leg kick, and snapped the puck past him into the top corner. You know a ‘goal-scorers goal’ when you see it, and you saw it 3:38 into the second period.

Labanc not only broke a 12-game, month-long goalless drought, but picked up his third point in as many games after scoring zero in his previous six. Despite his emergence as a force on the power play, all three points came during five-on-five play.

He’s generated six scoring chances in five-on-five situations in his last three games, according to Natural Stat Trick. That’s as many as Labanc accounted for in the six games preceding this run.

The same can be said about his five-on-five shot attempts (seven) and high-danger chances (two). His six shots on goal in his last three games are just one shy of also matching his five-on-five output over his six games prior.

In those categories, Labanc ranks third, third, and tied for second among Sharks forwards, as well as third in five-on-five scoring chances. He’s also tied with Mikkel Boedker for the forward-lead in five-on-five points over the last three games, despite playing only the eighth-most five-on-five minutes.

As Labanc’s broken out of an extended slump, so have the Sharks. Since returning from the bye week on Jan. 13, San Jose is fifth in five-on-five scoring rate (3.1 goals for/60 minutes), compared to 28th before their bye (1.91).

They’re also 5-1-0 during that time.

The Sharks, much like Labanc, were too reliant upon power play production prior to the NHL-mandated week off. Over half of Labanc’s points came with (at least) a man advantage, and 32 of San Jose’s 108 were scored on the power play.

Since, the second-year forward has only scored five-on-five points, while only five of the Sharks’ 23 goals were power play tallies. The power play’s still converting, but it’s not been the sole driver of San Jose’s offense.

It’s only a six-game sample, but the early five-on-five, post-bye week returns are promising for Labanc and the Sharks. The next step for both is to maintain that pace.

If Labanc and San Jose can, the Sharks may not need to shop for a top-six winger at the trade deadline after all.

Sharks dominate Ducks for two wins in two nights

Sharks dominate Ducks for two wins in two nights


ANAHEIM -- Mikkel Boedker had two goals and an assist, Joe Thornton had a goal and an assist, and the San Jose Sharks beat the Anaheim Ducks 6-2 on Sunday night.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Kevin Labanc and Melker Karlsson also scored for the Sharks, who have won five of six. Aaron Dell stopped 33 shots.

Rickard Rakell and Ryan Getzlaf scored for Anaheim. John Gibson stopped only 17 of 22 shots and was replaced after giving up his fifth goal. Anaheim had a four-game home winning streak snapped.

Four goals came in the third period. First, Anaheim pulled within one when Ondrej Kase stole the puck from behind the net and quickly fed Getzlaf, who fired it past Dell.

One minute later, the Sharks answered when Thornton's slap shot went in.

Boedker's second goal gave San Joe a 5-2 lead, and Karlsson's goal on goalie Ryan Miller made it a runaway.

The Ducks first found the net in the final minute of the second period, but that took a two-man advantage and a bit of luck.

Rakell was camped a few feet below the crease when he snapped a shot. San Jose's Justin Braun stuck out a stick, but it deflected the puck off the back of Dell's arm and into the net.

It was Rakell's team-high 17th goal this season.

San Jose appeared to take a commanding 3-0 lead on a power play in the second period. Boedker fired a shot from the top of the right circle that whistled past Gibson.

The Sharks took a 2-0 lead early in the second period when Anaheim's No.1 line turned the puck over. Thornton snapped it out to Labanc, who popped free for a breakaway. He beat Gibson on his short side for his fifth goal.

The Sharks took a 1-0 lead late in the first period on a nifty give-and-go when Tomas Hertl skated down the far side and sent a pass through the legs of Anaheim's Brandon Montour and right to Vlasic in front of the net.

Vlasic snapped it past Gibson for his seventh goal of the season.


Sharks: Return to San Jose on Tuesday night to play the Jets.

Ducks: Remain at home to play the Rangers on Tuesday night.