Sharks wish they had Winnipeg's luck with the puck


Sharks wish they had Winnipeg's luck with the puck

The Winnipeg Jets have not had the puck much this season, but have kept it out of their net and put it in their opposition’s.

When adjusting for blowouts and different arenas, the Jets are 20th and 21st in the major possession metrics (corsi and fenwick, respectively), according to Puck on Net. Despite that, they’ve allowed the sixth-fewest and scored the eighth-most, and are second in the Central Division. 

The San Jose Sharks, meanwhile, are one of the three best possession teams by both metrics when adjusting for score and venue. They’ve allowed the fewest goals per game in the league, but have only scored the second-fewest, and are five points back in the Pacific Division.  

That’s a pretty stark difference, and much of it comes down to luck. 

One way to measure luck is with a statistic known as PDO, which sums a team’s save and shooting percentages. The “Mendoza line” is 100, with teams standing above the line considered lucky and teams sitting below unlucky. 

The Jets’ PDO during five-on-five play, which comprises the vast majority of a team’s minutes, is 102.67, the second-highest in the league, according to Corsica Hockey. The Sharkss is 98.04, the sixth-lowest.

In some ways, the Jets are making their own luck. They boast one of the most skilled forward groups, and it’s reasonable to expect a team led by Patrik Laine to be one of the league’s best at finishing. Connor Hellebuyck, who’s seized the starting goalie job from free agent signing Steve Mason, has a history of success in college and the AHL.

Expecting 11 players to convert on over 10 percent of their chances and Hellebuyck to exceed his career averages, as has happened in Winnipeg this season, is another matter entirely. 

Similarly, the Sharks are at least somewhat responsible for their own misfortune. The team’s too talented to continue scoring on only 6.01 percent of their five-on-five shots, but it’d be unrealistic to expect them to convert at the same level as a much more offensively gifted club like Winnipeg.

Both teams are likely due for some amount of regression to the mean. The Sharks’ strong possession game bodes well when they’re luckier, while the Jets’ lesser numbers do not when they hit a bump in the road. 

The cliche holds that it’s better to be lucky than good. The Sharks and Jets have shown, however, that a team can’t be good without being a little lucky.

The pre-trade meeting that made Erik Karlsson excited about Sharks

The pre-trade meeting that made Erik Karlsson excited about Sharks

SAN JOSE -- Sharks general manager Doug Wilson was in Ottawa last week to meet with defenseman Erik Karlsson before acquiring him in a blockbuster trade with the Senators. It turns out head coach Peter DeBoer met with Karlsson, too. 

DeBoer, alongside Wilson, met the two-time Norris Trophy winner and his wife, Melinda, in Toronto “maybe a day” before the trade was finalized, he told reporters Wednesday after the day’s first practice session of training camp. The purpose, DeBoer said, was to give Karlsson a a sense of what the Sharks had to offer. 

“It’s a huge investment for the organization,” DeBoer said Wednesday morning. “It’s a huge investment from him and his wife to commit to coming out here and playing here. It was a great information session, and I think we all walked out of there really impressed with the player and the person.”

It’s fair to say Karlsson came away impressed, too.

“I think from that day on, both of our views kind of matched up, and I was extremely excited about everything they had to say,” Karlsson told reporters at his introductory press conference Wednesday. “They were great people right from the start.”

“And they’re still great people,” he added with a laugh. 

After the meeting, the Sharks sealed the deal last Thursday. They acquired Karlsson in a deal that sent two roster players, two prospects, two draft picks, and two more conditional picks to the Senators. 

Before the deal was completed, the Senators gave the Sharks permission to meet with Karlsson, Wilson said Wednesday after the press conference. Karlsson and his wife also spoke with Sharks owner Hasso Plattner several times, Wilson first told reporters Saturday. 

Wilson credited Plattner with giving him and the front office the ability to take go after “difference-makers” like Karlsson, and Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares, whom the Sharks met with ahead of the start of free agency. 

Plattner was in the room when San Jose pitched Tavares at the CAA offices in July, and Wilson said previously that the owner keeps up-to-date with just about everything the team does, even down to the recent rookie tournament in Las Vegas. Karlsson said Wednesday that Plattner’s knowledge stood out. 

“Speaking with [Plattner] was very reassuring,” Karlsson said. “He knew what he was talking about, and he was a very well-spoken man. Hopefully, I get to meet him soon.”

Meeting the owner, head coach, and general manager ultimately made Karlsson comfortable with coming to San Jose, and vice versa. Although Wilson said he would not discuss contract negotiations, he reiterated Wednesday he felt “very comfortable” about locking up the 28-year-old to a long-term extension. 

Karlsson declined to discuss a possible extension as well, keeping the focus of his introductory press conference largely on the upcoming season. But, he said he was grateful that Plattner, Wilson, and DeBoer made the trade “as smooth as it possibly could’ve been.”

“[My wife and I] are extremely happy and excited to be finally here, soak it all in, and start our new adventure," Karlsson said.

Erik Karlsson sees move to Sharks as 'extremely motivating challenge'

Erik Karlsson sees move to Sharks as 'extremely motivating challenge'

SAN JOSE -- While the Sharks and their fans waited on pins and needles over the last six days for Erik Karlsson to report to training camp, the defenseman had to tie up some loose ends. There were people to see, luggage to pack, paperwork to fill out, and even a little golf to play.

By the time Karlsson flew to San Jose and landed late Tuesday night, he said he was more than ready. 

“By the time everything got sorted, it felt like it was time to leave and I was extremely excited to finally get here,” Karlsson said Wednesday afternoon in his introductory press conference at the downtown Hilton. 

Last Thursday’s blockbuster trade marked the end of Karlsson’s nine-season stint with the Ottawa Senators, the only team he’s ever played for. In nearly a decade in the Canadian capital, Karlsson grew into one of the game’s best defenseman, winning two Norris Trophies and becoming a perennial All-Star. 

Karlsson was emotional addressing the Ottawa media in the trade’s immediate aftermath, but he officially turned the page on his career Wednesday. The 28-year-old practiced with the Sharks for the first time in the morning, and put on a teal, No. 65 jersey in front of the cameras later that afternoon. 

He told reporters that afternoon that he was looking forward to the opportunity to start fresh.

“I see this as an extremely motivating challenge to grow as a player and as a person,” Karlsson said. “I think, from everything so far, I’m going to have a great opportunity to do that here.”

Karlsson skated alongside defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic in most drills Wednesday morning. He even played with fellow Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns -- and captain Joe Pavelski -- during an extended three-on-three scrimmage at the end of practice, and joked that the experience was “not too shabby.”

[RELATED: Key stats explain Karlsson's dominance]

The Swede, who is entering the final season of a six-year deal and can become an unrestricted free agent next summer, demurred again when asked about the possibility of signing a long-term contract extension to stay in San Jose. He told reporters that he’s not yet looking beyond the upcoming season. Sharks general manager Doug Wilson would not comment on Karlsson extension talks, either.

That shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise. Karlsson just moved to a new team, in a new city, and in a different conference, to boot. He seemed almost relieved to be done with the move, and to be able to play once again.

“That’s the big thing that’s resonated with me,” Wilson said. “He’s not worried about anything else. He just wants to get in and be a good teammate, and get going.” 

The Sharks will play their second preseason game Thursday, but it’s unlikely Karlsson will suit up. That’ll be just his second day with the team, and the coaching staff wants to use that game to evaluate some of the young players still in camp.

San Jose won’t need to rush to integrate a player of Karlsson’s caliber, and he didn’t seem to mind the pace Wednesday. 

“They gave me the space that I needed, and at the same time, they gave me the comfort of letting me know that they were here if I needed anything,” Karlsson said. 

“I think it was a perfect first day, and I’m excited to get up tomorrow and go back to the rink.”