Sharks

Word on the Tweet: Are Wings 1 rival?

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Word on the Tweet: Are Wings 1 rival?

The Red Wings will make their first of two visits to HP Pavilion tonight, leading us to post a simple Twitter poll question on Wednesday is Detroit the Sharks top rival right now?

The answers were mixed, of course. Many agree that the recent playoff battles between the two clubs does in fact make the Red Wings the most hated team in the Bay Area, but many consider the Ducks and Kings the biggest rival based on proximity.

Joe Thornton agrees with, well, both responses when asked if the Wings are the Sharks' biggest rival club.

I think so yeah. Probably, them, Anaheim and L.A, said the captain.

Over the years I think both teams have looked at each other as a benchmark. They try to play good against us, and we try to play good against them. Thats the case when two good teams go at it. They work hard, they compete, and they have great players.

Below is a sampling of some of your responses.

@BleedingTeal
A rival yes, but probably not top. Kings & Ducks would be top rival. Wings are more of a measuring stick of how we are playing.

@Puckguy14
oh absolutely. Playoff history, classic games, best against best.

@steveckl
Even though we've met the Red Wings few times in POs and have history, I still hate the Ducks most. Kings are in running too.

@Mike_landis
They are our measuring stick, but they are so good and so classy I can't hate them enough for them to be my top rival. I HATE ANA

@JeffBlay
Detroit could definitely be mentioned in the same breath as LAAnaheim for top Sharks rival; intense playoff battles, close games.

@PatfaceCatface
Wings or Ducks for me. I give the edge to the Wings based on the incredible playoff history between the two.

@chrissampang
Man. I hate to be the contrarian..but I think the Wings rivalry has "frequency" but Dallas way more intense at its peak

@JoeGSW
Ducks are real rivals. To put it simply, Nor-Cal hates So-Cal.

@HammySJS
I'd consider them rivals-in-spirit but their relevance as a powerhouse is debatable now. That's not to say they're not great tho!

@jonplee
bc we've beat them 2 straight yrs, they've lost their mystique. I think ChiVan are our top rivals now. LA too in the yrs to come.

@TheDodgerhater
Gotta be Anaheim. They are dirtier and the games are more physical. Plus they're a division rival. They make me sick.

@mizzzurp
Ducks. More wings fans show up to the games at HP but there is an immense hatred for them amongst the patrons when they're in town

@nuggetsauce
Wings are definitely the Sharks real NHL rivalry. Ducks Kings see a lot of games, but intensity of SharksWings is unmatched.

@Chadd Maia
Top rivals will always be one of the SoCal teams due to amount of times seen, but Detroit games are always the most intense

The world’s most famous arena is a house of horrors for Sharks

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USATI

The world’s most famous arena is a house of horrors for Sharks

Whenever the NHL's schedule comes out, a trip to Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers is usually a highlight. A matchup against one of the league's biggest teams, in the country's biggest city, in a historic venue? That's a date worth circling.

If the San Jose Sharks circle it, it’s for entirely different reasons.

Throughout the entirety of the franchise’s 26-season existence, the Garden has been anything but welcoming. The Sharks have traveled to the world’s most famous arena 17 times, and have only skated off with a win four times. They didn’t even win a game there until October 19, 1999, in San Jose’s eighth appearance in the building.

Madison Square Garden has been “King” Henrik Lundqvist’s castle against the Sharks. The king in the castle is also the moat surrounding it: In four career appearances against San Jose at home, Lundqvist has only allowed four goals.

The Sharks haven’t been able to solve his squires, either, losing games to two of his most recent back-ups: Martin Biron, now on television, and Antti Raanta, now in Arizona. Lundqvist will likely start on Monday night, but if he doesn’t, this is probably the one instance where San Jose wouldn’t want to face Ondrej Pavelec, even though he’s never managed to eclipse a .920 save percentage in a season.

That’s because the team’s most recent appearances at the Garden have been among their worst. The Sharks have been shut out twice in their last four visits to Manhattan, and have only scored five goals over that span. They did manage to win one game, thanks to a Lundqvist-like shutout from then-goaltender Antti Niemi in 2014.  

Martin Jones, on the other hand, has been decidedly unlike Lundqvist. He’s allowed nine goals on 55 shots in two road starts against the original six franchise, good for an .837 save percentage. The skaters in front of him exactly helped Jones, either. The Sharks have played from behind in their last two trips to Madison Square Garden, failing to score first and trailing after the first two periods both times.

Those recent struggles are especially strange, given Peter DeBoer’s relative success in the building. He won big road games against the Rangers before assuming his role behind the Sharks’ bench, most notably two in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, when DeBoer’s Devils upset the top-seeded Rangers. Once you coach this team in that arena, though, all bets are off.

Somehow, in a month known for horror, there may be nothing scarier than the thought of the Sharks playing in Madison Square Garden.

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.