Kevin Labanc – like Timo Meier – is another example of a San Jose Sharks player whose production plateaued in 2018-19.
Two years ago, Labanc notched a career-high 56 points. Last year, his production dropped to a 39-point pace over 82 games. This season, he’s on a full-season 43-point pace.
Labanc, however, argued today in his exit interview that his 5-on-5 game “has been pretty good” – it’s his power play production that’s holding him back.
And according to Natural Stat Trick, Labanc is right.
At the moment, the 25-year-old winger is averaging 2.04 Points Per Game at 5-on-5, third among San Jose Sharks forwards behind Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane. In 2018-19? He boasted a healthy 2.12 Points Per Game.
Believe it or not, Labanc has actually been less productive at 5-on-4 than 5-on-5 this year, averaging just 1.55 Points Per Game on the man advantage. In 2018-19? 6.12 Points Per Game.
Labanc has had just three 5-on-4 points this season – he had 19 in 2018-19. Would 16 more points look pretty good on Labanc’s ledger?
This freefall in power play production has mirrored the San Jose Sharks’. In 2018-19, they were sixth in the NHL with a 23.7 % PP success rate. Last year, they were 23rd in the league at 17.5 % — and currently, they’re 28th in the NHL at 14.2 %.
Here are some of the highlights from Labanc’s exit interview:
Kevin Labanc, on his production:
I definitely want to be producing more offensively. I think the power play hasn’t really found its groove in the past little bit. Once the power play gets going, production starts going up as well. I think 5-on-5, my game has been pretty good.
Labanc, on the San Jose Sharks’ power play issues:
Yeah, you can’t waste a second on the power play. Make a missed pass, just trying to break in again. It’s hard to do.
You just got to really clean up everything. When you’re out there on the power play, possession breaking in, getting shots through, and then recovering the pucks after you shoot it.
Not necessarily make the pretty play, but make some more of those greasy second, third chances around the net. That’s what it’s going to take. I think shot volume is going to be a big, big thing for next year.
Labanc, on the mental toll from this pandemic-shortened season:
Yeah, it was definitely challenging. Felt like you’re just going from the rink to your house to your house to the rink. There was just no normalcy, which really sucked. But hopefully, things change next year.
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