If there was an Achilles Heel to the Sharks terrific first half of the season, it was that power play. But over the last two weeks, that trend has been changing.
The Sharks have posted at least one power play goal in the last four contests, converting six of 18 opportunities for a 33.3 percent success rate. Going back eight contests, the Sharks have scored on eight of their last 28 chances, good for a 28.6 percent clip.
The surge has pushed the Sharks from 23rd in the NHL with a 15.3 percent success rate to 19th place with a 16.9 percent mark.
“We’re moving the puck around a little more,” said Joe Thornton
. “That’s letting us find shooting angles.”
“We’re not stationary like we were,” said Milan Michalek.
When up a man, the Sharks are letting their instincts take over instead of thinking too much.
“Part of hockey is just being creative and that is what we have to do on the power play,” said Matt Carle.
Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson has also started using four forwards on the attack with Patrick Marleau
manning one of the points.
“With Patty back there, it creates a lot more space,” said Thornton. “It’s a different look.”
“They can’t just focus on Joe (Thornton),” said Milan Michalek.
Marleau has been joined by Carle on the power play blueline, meaning the Alaskan native is now the more stay-at-home blueliner.
“It’s not that different,” said Carle. “I’ve got to be better aware, but I’ll still go down low.”
Flanking Thornton up front are Michalek and Steve Bernier. This makes for a five-man unit that hasn’t been together a lot, but the addition of Bernier is providing some serious grit up front.
“Bernie has been doing a good job in front of the net setting screens,” said Michalek. “He’s a big body and tough to move.”
The Sharks are also working harder on the power play and using the extra attacker to gain loose pucks.
“When we enter the zone, we are surrounding the puck and making sure we come up with it,” said Carle.
When the Sharks power play feels confident, it is among the League’s most dangerous weapons.
“When we’re confident, good things usually happen,” said Thornton.
San Jose will need their power play Thursday night as sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division is on the line.
The Sharks will play hosts to Dallas on Thursday at HP Pavilion in a 7:30 p.m. (Pacific) game carried on FSN in High Definition, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com. Limited tickets are still available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com.