Programming note: Rangers-Sharks coverage gets underway Tuesday night at 7 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
SAN JOSE – One of the more positive aspects of Saturday’s Sharks win over Phoenix is that the second power play unit was able to have an impact on the scoreboard. Tomas Hertl’s deflection of a Matt Irwin floater from the point gave San Jose a 2-0 first period lead, and the club cruised to a fairly easy 4-1 win.
It was the Sharks’ first power play goal of the season after taking an 0-for-8 against Vancouver, and they got another when Patrick Marleau scored later in the opening frame.
There was rightfully no concern over the power play performance last Thursday against Vancouver, a 4-1 Sharks win. The elite top unit of Marleau, Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Dan Boyle will get its goals. It’s the second unit that will be under the microscope, especially early, after struggling last season with different looks and personnel.
“They’re a work in progress,” Todd McLellan said.
[RELATED: Despite good start, McLellan not satisfied]
At the moment, that unit consists of Irwin and Jason Demers on the points, with Hertl, Tyler Kennedy and Brent Burns up front.
While the top unit will routinely pull of a stunning tic-tac-toe passing play that ends up on highlight reels, the second unit is employing more of a meat-and-potatoes philosophy.
“Our identity on that power play is getting pucks to the net and crashing and banging, and getting the junk in front,” Irwin said. “We’ve got to be on the ice supporting each other every chance we can. It’s not going to be one of the prettiest power plays, but it should be successful if we just stick to getting pucks to the point, and pucks and people to the net.”
Kennedy was used sparingly on the power play last season in Pittsburgh, his final year in a Penguins sweater. Indications are he’ll get more of a chance to put up power play points in San Jose, as he’s been on the second unit since the start of training camp.
“We’re going to hold ourselves to a high standard,” Kennedy said. “When we get out there we want to score, and that’s our job. We at least want to bring momentum to the team, and outwork the other PK. That’s what we have to do, and that’s what we have to hold ourselves accountable to, too.”
Overall, the Sharks finished 2-for-4 on the power play against Phoenix, but McLellan wasn’t all that happy with the final advantage after Zbenyk Michalek’s holding penalty at 10:52 of the third. San Jose maintained a 3-1 lead at the time, and a goal on that power play would have essentially sealed the win.
“I thought we could have had a little more ‘nail in the coffin’ attitude with the last one,” McLellan said. “I thought we played a little bit on our heels there. … Some nights you’re [0-for-8] and you’re better than when you were [2-for-4].”