Quick strikes doomed strategy
Sharks didn’t have much time to deploy new penalty-kill tactics
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.
Wayne Simmonds tips one of his power-play goals past Sharks goalie Martin Jones in Wednesday’s opener.
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.