Once again, Sharks’ third line seemed to click during Tuesday night’s win against the St. Louis Blues.
Mikkel Boedker scored his sixth and seventh points in four games. He now has two more goals than he did all of last season, his first in San Jose, and is only two points shy of matching his total from last year.
Chris Tierney continued his career year, and picked up his fourth point in three games. His 16th assist of the season marks a new personal-best, with 22 games to go.
Jannik Hansen, meanwhile, continued to show signs of life. After managing only five assists in his first 31 games of the season, he now has three assists in his last three games.
In all, the new-look third line has outscored opponents five-to-one during the last four games, in a little over 40 five-on-five minutes together. That level of production should encourage the Sharks, especially in the absence of Tomas Hertl and Joe Thornton.
The problem is that it isn’t exactly sustainable.
For one, they’ve benefited from plenty of puck luck. Over the last four games with Boedker, Hansen, and Tierney on the ice in five-on-five situations together, the Sharks have scored on a sky-high 26.32 percent of their shots, and the team’s opponents have only scored on 3.12 percent of theirs, according to Natural Stat Trick.
The trio hasn’t played well enough to earn that disparity. In the last four games, they’ve been out-attempted 52-37, outshot 32-19, and out-chanced 33-25 in five-on-five situations.
For the analytically inclined, their five-on-five corsi-for percentage in those games is 35.96 percent, shots-for percentage is 37.25, and scoring chance-for percentage is 43.1. With them off of the ice, the Sharks’ numbers in those respective metrics are 49.81 percent, 51.29, and 56.69 percent.
Tuesday was a near-perfect representation of the discrepancy between their play and their production. The Sharks only attempted 27.27 percent of the five-on-five shots and generated 35.71 percent of the scoring chances with them on the ice, but still managed to score a goal and hold the Blues scoreless in the process.
In all, Boedker, Hansen, and Tierney have been on the ice for half of the team’s goals over the last four games, despite not playing all that well together. The Sharks will surely take those results no matter how ugly the process, especially as Thornton and Hertl remain on the mend.
The longer they’re out, though, the less likely it is that the new third line will be able to maintain this level of scoring. San Jose will have to hope the puck luck doesn’t begin to go the other way if the trio can’t start tilting the ice in their favor.