SAN JOSE – On Monday at Sharks Ice, the focus was on the penalty kill. Tuesday will bring increased attention to the power play.
Coach Todd McLellan thinks both units could use some polish.
“Players just have to be reminded – these are the things we do, and this is how we do them,” he said. “The other team can beat us at it, and we’ll adjust, but right now that’s not the case. We’re beating ourselves in some of those situations.”
Logan Couture said: “Just our special teams lately has dipped below our standards.”
In Saturday’s game against New Jersey, the Sharks got away with losing the special teams battle in a 2-1 win. The Sharks finished 0-for-3 on the power play, generating just three total shots, none of which came from the top unit. Conversely, Patrik Elias’ third period goal came with time winding down on the Devils’ only advantage of the night.
Overall, the Sharks are just 1-for-13 on the power play in their past four games, and haven’t scored in their last 11 opportunities. That’s dropped them to 13th overall in the league (19.6 percent).
“We’ve been spending too much time skating back towards our end breaking the puck out,” said Dan Boyle, who considered Saturday’s game against New Jersey his unit’s worst power play performance of the season.
McLellan said after the game that the Devils got momentum from the Sharks’ failed power plays. "Our power play gave them life, and it sucked the life out of us,” said the coach.
On Monday, McLellan said: “You have to keep working on it, growing it, and keeping it sharp. We’ll go after that area of our game, and try and sharpen it up.”
Couture agreed with his coach.
“The power play creates a lot of momentum. When we’re not moving it or shooting it, we’re dragging our team down,” he said.
As for the penalty kill, the Sharks haven’t had much of an opportunity to tighten it up in games. They’ve been shorthanded just three times total in their last three games, and at 97 minutes and 53 seconds, they’ve been down a man less than any other NHL team this season.
Still, they’ve allowed one power play goal in four of their last six games, and are just 6-for-10 over that span.
“Just our intensity, our clears, our plays off faceoffs, and time to pressure,” Couture said. “I think early in the year we were pressuring the other team’s power play at certain times. We’ve gotten away from that lately.”
Boyle doesn’t think the infrequency of penalty kill time should negatively affect that unit’s performance.
“We know what we have to do,” he said.
They’ll be reminded by the time practice concludes on Tuesday.