As the Sharks continue their season-best six-game winning streak, one item has not changed from Opening Night – their ability to limit shots against.
San Jose has held opponents to 30 or fewer shots in 54 of 66 games, that’s 82 percent of the time. That’s very impressive considering the average NHL club posts 29 shots a game, meaning clubs crank 30 shots on goal more than 40 percent of the time. San Jose only allows 30 shots 18 percent of the time. Only the Detroit Red Wings have allowed fewer shots than Team Teal.
In addition, the Sharks have held rivals to 25 or fewer shots 59 percent (39 of 66) and 20 or fewer shots 29 percent (19 of 66).
Defensemen aren’t the only ones responsible for keeping a low shot total.
“It’s a team effort,” forward Joe Pavelski
said. “The forwards are coming back hard. It’s a good system we have.”
For the players, it’s a fun style to play.
“It’s pretty aggressive,” Pavelski said. “It’s patient aggressive. We have certain reads and boundaries where we should and shouldn’t go.”
Many shots against are eliminated by simply keeping the puck in the offensive zone.
“We forecheck and try to physically man-handle the defense,” Head Coach Ron Wilson said.
While San Jose has minimized defensive opportunities all season, the offense hasn’t really taken off…until lately. Over the last four games, the Sharks have scored 15 goals.
“We haven’t scored a lot offensively, but our defense has kept us in it,” center Patrick Marleau
said. “We’ve won a lot of one-goal games.”
Those one-goal games are the ones necessary for a long journey into the postseason.
“We’ve learned how to hang onto leads and close it out,” Marleau said. “It’s an invaluable experience to have that feather in your cap. It gives us confidence.”A LITTLE PRESSURE
Defenseman Brian Campbell is glad to be away from the constant asking of the “will he or won’t he sign” question in Buffalo. However, he may be getting a healthier dose of it now. Campbell sits next to childhood friend Joe Thornton
in the locker room and Thornton is now letting Campbell stay at his house instead of at a hotel.
“He’s staying with me so I’m in his ear every day,” Thornton said of his persuasive approach in getting Campbell to stay in Silicon Valley.GETTING CLOSER
Left wing Ryane Clowe
continues to skate full practices with the team, but may still be about a month away from returning.
“By the end of the month,” Wilson said about Clowe’s availability. Clowe hurt his knee on Oct. 28 and has missed the last 55 games.
Center Curtis Brown may also find his way back to the active roster soon. Brown, who’s been skating without a cast on his wrist, has been out since Jan. 20.
“It’s better than it was before,” Brown said. “I’ve been skating, but it’s different when you can shoot and handle the puck.”NEW LOOK
Backup goaltender Brian Boucher may be closer to looking like a Sharks player in the next couple of weeks as new leg pads should be coming soon.
“I’m due for new pads anyway,” Boucher said. He’ll still need time to break-in those big leather pads when they arrive.
As for the mask, the current one is a retro model, dating back to his early days with the Philadelphia Phantoms in the late 1990s.
“I kept it (the current mask) the whole time and just put it in my son’s room in Rhode Island,” Boucher said. “The mask is from the Phantoms from years ago.”
The mask should also soon change to represent Team Teal, but what it will look like will be decided by someone else.
“I’ve had the same guy (painting my masks) all these years, so hopefully he’ll bump me up in line,” Boucher said. “I’m not very creative, so I’ll just leave it up to the painter.”HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY
On Wednesday, the Sharks wore special St. Patrick's Day jersey's during their morning skate and will auction them off to benefit the Sharks Foundation at the next homestand.NEXT GAME
The Sharks will play hosts to Ottawa Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. PST with the game available on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 K-FOX and sjsharks.com. Limited tickets are still available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. Note:
Wednesday's game against Ottawa is available on NHL Network, not NHL Center Ice.