Right now the San Jose Sharks are leading the NHL in one offensive category that might surprise some. San Jose is out in front of the entire league in shots per game with an average of 35.6. That is two shots more than their nearest competition. The Sharks themselves are a little frustrated they aren’t scoring at a higher rate, but the shot count is another reminder of how much the club is doing right. They just need to keep hammering away at the net.
“You have to look at it both ways,” Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan said about the shot count. “You have to take the positives out of it. The fact we are creating some scoring chances, maybe more than the results show, is a real positive. I feel we are finding some line combinations that are working well. I think we have our D involved as well. Their shot totals have gone up immensely since the beginning of the year. And when we shoot, we seem to be getting the puck back so we get more offensive zone time.”
Pavelski is the poster child right now for a player doing so much right, but where things could quickly turn to outstanding with a few kind bounces. Right now “Pavs” is tied for fifth in the NHL in shots and of the five tied or above him, only Alex Ovechkin has a higher shots per game ratio. The talent on the list includes Patrick Sharp, Evgeni Malkin, Eric Staal an Sidney Crosby.
“It’s tough because when you get those type of opportunities, you have to stay with what you are doing,” Joe Pavelski
said. “If you get away from it, there is a chance those opportunities might not come. You just keep doing the simple things and the hard things.”
“I’ve always said, if you’re getting chances and getting shots, you’re going to score goals eventually, especially with this group in here,” Dany Heatley said. “Whether you are scoring or not scoring, there are things you can do better. Maybe getting to the net a little more. Bearing down a little bit more on your shots.
As the shot totals keep building, the potential for goals to follow will be almost like a dam about to burst under increasing water pressure. It’s not a matter of if, but when.
“Once we start scoring some goals, we’ll get on a pretty good role,” Heatley said.
“You look at a lot of our wins, we scored five goals. If you score five goals you are going to win a lot of games,” Pavelski said. “The dam has been broken before. It’s being consistent each night. The games we have lost have been by a shutout or one goal losses. It’s frustrating because they are games we feel we should win. They are points that slip away and that doesn’t sit good with anyone in this locker room.”
The players don’t feel they need more shots by any means, but do think the current shots can be assisted a little more.
“The shot totals are up there,” Patrick Marleau
said. “If you get more traffic in front of the goalies, we’ll probably get the goals going. More traffic is the answer. The goalies in this league are good and if they can see the shots, they will stop them.”
Until and after the dam breaks the Sharks will keep playing their strong team defense which has gotten them through the current lack of goals.
“We’ve been playing pretty well defensively all year,” Heatley said. “Our goaltending has been great. We haven’t given up too much. Most of the games we’ve lost are because we’re not scoring goals, not because we’re giving up too much.”
“Those are the times when you have to squeak out a win here or there,” Marleau said. “Some of the best games you don’t end up getting the goals, but you have to find a way when teams are playing well against you.”
As San Jose keeps working their way through a little adversity, it will only make them stronger when they come out the other side. San Jose simply needs to stay positive through this current segment until the puck starts tickling the twine a bit more.
“The puck isn’t going in for a lot of guys,” Devin Setoguchi said. “You can’t get discouraged no matter how many chances you get. You just have to keep going. Eventually they will go in for some of the guys not scoring and when it does, it will be scary if we can keep the 40 plus shots up.”
Pavelski came as close as possible to getting a goal against the Islanders when he scored on a wraparound, only to have the crowd muted as the official waived it off. Yet he has a positive outlook on it the day after.
“It was fun to celebrate for a little bit,” Pavelski joked. “Hopefully the opportunities will keep coming.”
Kent Huskins had the day off from practice after being hit by a puck.
“He took a shot and he’s being evaluated today,” McLellan said. “He didn’t skate this morning and was at the doctor’s office. Right now everything is really positive. It doesn’t mean it won’t change this afternoon. We’ve got our fingers crossed the positive information we are getting will continue.”
If Huskins couldn’t go, the Sharks won’t necessarily need to make a move.
“Derek Joslin’s been here. He’s now healthy and worked really hard. He would be the guy and we would feel really good about putting him in,” McLellan said.
San Jose will host Calgary Saturday at 7 p.m. and the game will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com
. Tickets can be found at www.ticketmaster.com
and at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office.