Sharks offense finally wakes up; What can we expect moving forward?
April 19, 2017, 11:15 PM ET [25 Comments]
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Through four games, the San Jose Sharks and the Edmonton Oilers are tied 2-2 in their best-of-seven opening round series. It's only been four games, but they have been four very different games.
The Oilers grabbed control of the series with back-to-back shutouts of the Sharks. It was shades of the first half of the season when the San Jose offense struggled to find any consistency. Even the ever steady play of Martin Jones looked shaky with the Oil exposing a weakness in his five-hole. The powerless play continued to look pathetic, mired in a 1 for 14 funk.
San Jose was clearly frustrated and looking increasingly older and older by the minute. The young, spry Oilers and their confidence grew ten fold with each shift and they were getting in the Sharks heads - fast. Dire straights for the teal and black faithful, indeed.
Despite the offensive struggles, the Sharks defense continues to be the lone bright spot - as it had all season. The Oilers average nearly three goals per game during the regular season. Edmonton is averaging just 1.25 goals per game in the series, they’ve scored two goals five-on-five and the league’s best scorer, Connor McDavid, has yet to record a point at even strength and is without a point in consecutive games.
All bright spots in a increasingly dim situation.
San Jose spent most of the season near the bottom third of the league in goals per game (2.67). Despite the offenses shortcomings they stayed in contention for the Pacific Division throughout because of its stingy defense and a fifth ranked goals-against average (2.44). Additionally, SJ was third in shots against per game (27.7) and sixth in shot attempts percentage in close game situations (51.92).
If the Sharks had any offense at all they would have run away with the division and this series...yes this series... might not be a series at all. That's why what happened in game four is absolutely mind-blowing and cause for great hope.
The Sharks erupted for SEVEN goals. Seven - a number better suited for an NFL box score and not an NHL playoff game. Strengthened by a healthier looking Joe Thornton and Logan Couture, Game 4 turned into a coming out party for the Sharks offense. An offensinve unit that had been dormant for much of the regular a season and definitely in these young playoffs. Even the previously inept power play was unstoppable.
The Sharks tied their postseason record for most goals in a game and set their record with four power-play goals on eight chances. It was a smorgasbord of goals and it sent a message to the overconfident Oilers...not so fast buckaroos, you have to win four games first.
Couture and Joe Pavelski each scored two goals. Patrick Marleau, Marcus Sorensen and David Schlemko each scored, and Brent Burns had three assists in the win. In total, 13 different Sharks collected a point and six different Sharks had multi-point efforts. Martin Jones pitched a 24 save shutout for good measure.
The tide of the series may not have shifted alltogether, but it does feel a lot less hopeless than it did prior to game 4. I'm optimistic the offensive outburst was just the kick in the pants San Jose needed moving forward.
So what can we expect in game 5? In the mortal words of Big Brother host, Julie Chen... "Expect the unexpected."
We'll find out Thursday when the series shifts back to Rogers Place for game 5.
Thanks for reading,