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What Did Karlsson Do Well in 2020-21? | SJHN+

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Credit: NBCS Bay Area

There are obvious numbers that demonstrate Erik Karlsson’s decline — and not-so-obvious numbers.

Let’s start with the obvious: In 52 games, Karlsson scored just 22 points. This 0.42 Points Per Game was the lowest of his career, just a shade under his 0.43 as a 19-year-old rookie and less than half of his NHL defensemen-leading 0.89 from 2011-20.

The San Jose Sharks defenseman’s 5-on-5 scoring rate was just as ugly: Per Natural Stat Trick, his 0.7 Points Per 60 was also the lowest of his career, while his 0.25 Primary Assists Per 60 was a far cry from 2017-20’s defensemen-leading 0.67.

And it didn’t get much better on the power play: Karlsson’s 2.93 Points Per 60 at 5-on-4 was the third-lowest of his 12-year career. That’s not all on Karlsson, of course — the San Jose Sharks had the third-worst power play in the league in 2020-21.

Save for a spike in his shooting percentage — Karlsson potted eight goals with a 7.3 shooting %, the first time since 2016-17 that he’s cleared five percent — it was a disastrous offensive campaign for the NHL’s most productive offensive defenseman from 2011-20.

But you already know all this. These numbers paint the picture — though they don’t explain it.

So let’s talk about the not-so-obvious numbers — exclusive offensive and defensive micro-stats from SPORTLOGiQ — that offer greater insight into why Karlsson has declined.

But first, the good news. Erik Karlsson is still Erik Karlsson in many important ways.

End-to-End Rushes

Remember the Karlsson who the San Jose Sharks were supposed to be getting from Ottawa? The coast-to-coast, one-man breakout machine? He’s still here.

Karlsson’s straight-ahead speed remains a force to reckon with. He still carries the puck with aplomb:

End-to-End Rushes (5v5 Per 20)2017-182018-192019-202020-21
Erik Karlsson0.560.650.40.78
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