A full month after the beginning of the NHL season, the San Jose Sharks will finally play a home game at SAP Center.
Their reward? Peter DeBoer’s return to SAP Center and a date with the vaunted Vegas Golden Knights.
San Jose Sharks (5-6-1)
(San Jose Hockey Now was at the Sharks’ first practice open to the media in San Jose yesterday – it looks like Kurtis Gabriel and Rudolfs Balcers will be getting a look)
Vegas Golden Knights (8-2-1)
(DeBoer said yesterday afternoon that he hadn’t decided yet if Robin Lehner and Shea Theodore were traveling with the team to San Jose; this was the Vegas line-up in their last game)
Where to Watch
Puck drop is 1:00 PM PT at SAP Center. Watch it on NBC Sports Bay Area, AT&T Sportsnet, or NHL.tv.
SPORTLOGiQ Pre-Game Stat of the Day
The question with the Golden Knights isn’t what they’re good at – that’s almost everything – but what they’re not good at.
Per SPORTLOGiQ, here are some Vegas weaknesses that the San Jose Sharks should look to exploit:
The Golden Knights block a lot of shots at 5-on-5 – 33.8 percent of Even Strength Opposition Shot Attempts – good for best in the NHL. But they’re just 20th in both Limiting Shot Attempts from the Slot Off the Cycle and the Forecheck. Essentially, they appear to be susceptible to a strong forecheck and possession team that keeps firing down low, which is what the Sharks aspire to be – though San Jose is just 26th in the league in Offensive Zone Possession Time right now.
Interestingly, Vegas isn’t as effective on the forecheck as you’d expect. They’re actually last in the NHL in ES OZ Dump-ins Recovered and 28th in Forechecking Success %. Forechecking success means that the opposition doesn’t reach the neutral zone after the Golden Knights dump-in. However, they keep dumping it in: They dump the puck in 44.3 percent of the time at even strength, good for second in the league.
Concurrently, their defensemen aren’t great at recovering the other side’s dump-ins. They’re also last in the NHL in ES Defensive Zone Dump-In Recovery & Exits. So San Jose might have some success if they can get the puck behind the Vegas defenders – remember Theodore may sit – and hunt down pucks.
Sheng’s Travel Fund
Help fund Sheng's travel! Every dollar goes to the cost of getting to and from Sharks road games.