Why Sharks are one loss from season coming to an end
Where do things stand after Game 5?
At the start of the second round, we examined five key questions that will determine the outcome of the series between San Jose and Vegas. We reexamine those questions every time the series shifts locations.
The Sharks are now on the brink of elimination, in large part because of the answers to these questions. Let’s take a closer look.
Who has the even-strength edge?
Adjusting for score and venue, the Golden Knights have accounted for 53.55 percent of the five-on-five shot attempts and 52.27 percent of the scoring chances, according to Natural Stat Trick. They’ve outscored the Sharks 11-7 at full strength.
San Jose battled back from a four-goal deficit in Game 5, and narrowed the possession gap, but Vegas still had a big edge in shot quality. The Golden Knights generated 57.06 percent of the expected goals five-on-five, and 61.57 percent of the expected goals in all situations, per Corsica Hockey. If the Sharks are going to fend off elimination in Game 6, those numbers will need to flip.
Will Marc-Andre Fleury falter?
Fleury’s allowed three-or-more goals in each of the last four games, but is still the postseason leader with a .962 five-on-five save percentage, according to Corsica Hockey. San Jose’s found the back of the net against him, but it’s not entirely accurate to say he’s faltered.
He’s also outplayed Martin Jones (.886 save percentage in the second round) through five games. This series hasn’t been the goalie duel that many, including us, expected, but Fleury’s been as good as advertised for much of the series.
How healthy is Brent Burns?
Burns led all Sharks skaters with 10 shot attempts across all situations in Game 5, and was tied for second with three scoring chances per Natural Stat Trick. But, he (and Mikkel Boedker) couldn’t clear the zone ahead of James Neal’s first-period goal, and was caught up ice finishing his check on Alex Tuch’s eventual game-winner.
He’s shooting and creating scoring chances at a lower rate than the regular season, and has just one five-on-five point in the second round. Burns has not missed a game during the playoffs, but whether or not he’s injured, he’s not quite his usual self.
When will the Golden Knights power play start finishing?
The better question might be “when will they stop?” Vegas is generating attempts, shots, and chances at right around the same rates as the previous round, but has converted on 15.38 percent of its power-play shots, according to Natural Stat Trick.
The Sharks are actually allowing shots and chances at lower rates than the first round, but they’ve regressed to the mean against the Golden Knights. San Jose’s also been shorthanded more than any other team in the second round, and will need to stay out of the box in Game 6 to contain Vegas’ power play.
Can the Sharks win in Las Vegas?
The Sharks did their job and won a road game, but so did the Golden Knights. That leaves San Jose with the unenviable task of needing to win a Game 7 on the road.
A win at SAP Center in Game 6 is required to even have the opportunity, but Vegas has been the better team on the road dating back to the regular season. The Sharks showed they can win in Sin City, but now they’ll have to become the first team to win twice at T-Mobile Arena this year in order to advance.