Quick strikes doomed strat­egy

Sharks didn’t have much time to de­ploy new penalty-kill tac­tics

The Mercury News Weekend - - SPORTS - By Cur­tis Pashelka cpashelka@ ba­yare­anews­group.com

SANJOSE » The Sharks are try­ing to im­ple­ment a few new tac­tics with their penalty kill this sea­son. They just didn’t get to put the the­o­ries into prac­tice for very long in their opener against the Philadel­phia Fly­ers.

Two of the three power-play goals the Sharks al­lowed in their 5- 3 loss to the Fly­ers hap­pened within eight sec­onds of the penalty be­ing called. Both times, the face­off was lost, the shot from the point got through and the puck was tipped by Fly­ers for­ward Wayne Sim­monds past goalie Martin Jones.

In all, the Fly­ers needed only 69 sec­onds to score their three goals with the man ad­van­tage.

“It was a tough start, but I think you have to look at the goals first and how they went in,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said Thurs­day. “They weren’t sys­tem break­downs. It wasn’t like there were two or three seam passes and guys wide open.”

The Sharks’ penalty kill has ranked in the bot­tom half of the NHL the past three sea­sons, fin­ish­ing 25th in 2014-15 (78.5 per­cent), 21st (80.5 per­cent) in 201516 and 18th (80.7 per­cent) last year.

With new as­sis­tant coaches Dave Barr and Rob Zet­tler, who re­placed Bob Bough­ner, now the head coach in Florida, the Sharks are try­ing to be more ag­gres­sive in tak­ing away time and space when they’re down a man.

In six pre­sea­son games, the

Sharks’ penalty kill ranked sev­enth in the NHL at 88.5 per­cent, a suc­cess rate and rank­ing they gladly will take for the du­ra­tion of the reg­u­lar sea­son.

“It is a lit­tle bit more ag­gres­sive, a lit­tle bit more of not just try­ing to block shots, but maybe even get­ting there (quicker) to cre­ate more bat­tles and cre­ate more un­cer­tainty on the power play,” Sharks de­fense­man Brenden Dil­lon said. “Maybe rush a play in­stead of al­low­ing time.”

Barr has been an NHL as­sis­tant the last nine sea­sons and worked with De- Boer in New Jersey from 2011 to De­cem­ber 2014. Zet­tler, an orig­i­nal Sharks player from 1991- 94, was an as­sis­tant coach with San Jose from 2002- 08 and with the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2008-12, both un­der Ron Wil­son.

For a de­fense­man, any changes might be more sub­tle.

“It’s not any­thing dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent,” said Marc-Edouard Vla­sic, the only Sharks de­fense­man who was here when Zet­tler was pre­vi­ously in San Jose. “To me, as of right now, there’s not many dif­fer­ences. It’s pretty much the same back there.”

DeBoer might start to work more play­ers into the penalty kill ro­ta­tion, men­tion­ing Timo Meier, Chris Tier­ney and To­mas Hertl as can­di­dates to as­sume some of that re­spon­si­bil­ity.

If that works out, per­haps it takes a lit­tle off the plate of for­wards like Lo­gan Cou­ture or Jan­nik Hansen.

“We’re try­ing to be more ag­gres­sive on (zone) en­tries, we’re try­ing to get more peo­ple in­volved,” DeBoer said. “There’s some op­por­tu­nity for some ex­tra ice time for some guys if they’ll get out there and take some pride in that role and get the job done.

“But that’s on them to do it.”

• Joe Pavel­ski did not prac­tice Thurs­day as DeBoer la­beled it a mainte- nance day for the Sharks’ cap­tain. Pavel­ski also had main­te­nance days late last week and did not play in the Sharks’ fi­nal two pre­sea­son games Satur­day and Sun­day. Pavel­ski had 16:27 of ice time in Wed­nes­day’s loss.

Bar­clay Goodrow, in­stead, took line rushes with Joe Thorn­ton and Kevin La­banc in prac­tice on the Sharks’ top line.

• DeBoer tweaked his lines for Thurs­day’s prac­tice, mov­ingHansen to the sec­ond line with Cou­ture and Mikkel Boed­ker and drop­ping Joonas Don­skoi to the third line with Hertl and Meier.

EZRA SHAW — GETTY IM­AGES

Wayne Sim­monds tips one of his power-play goals past Sharks goalie Martin Jones in Wed­nes­day’s opener.

JOSIE LEPE — STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Joe Thorn­ton, left, takes on the Fly­ers’ Scott Laughton in a face­off in Wed­nes­day’s sea­son-open­ing loss. The Sharks gave up two power-play goals within sec­onds of los­ing the face­offs.

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