“Both guys, we’ve experimented with them on the flanks. There’s no secret that both of them are better up top, that’s where they’ve spent a lot of their careers. Two guys can’t be in that role. The experiment’s over.”
During training camp, that’s what San Jose Sharks head coach Bob Boughner said about deploying Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns on the same power play.
Desperate times call for desperate measures though — Karlsson and Burns are back together on the man advantage to try to reverse a 2-for-24 PP slide. Since Dec. 11, the Sharks have given up more short-handed goals (3) than they’ve scored power play goals (2).
This is how the two units looked this morning, per JD Young of Locked On Sharks:
— JD Young (Eklund Approved) (@MyFryHole) January 15, 2022
“We’ve tried it in the past. We’ve had mediocre success with it,” Boughner acknowledged.
“Mediocre” might be generous: Per Natural Stat Trick, from 2018-21, these are Burns and Karlsson’s results together at 5-on-4, and apart.
(GF: Goals For, CF: Corsi For, SF: Shots For, SCF: Scoring Chances For, HDCF: High-Danger Corsi For)
There’s a clear difference in goals, shot attempts, and scoring chances produced. That said, Burns and Karlsson apart on the PP hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire either. They’re 24th in the NHL with a 17.0 percent success rate.
“At the end of the day, if you get those two out there and you have Tommy, Cooch, and Timo, you got your five best players on the ice,” Boughner said. “It’s up to them, they got to get it done. You can provide the structure, the details, and what you want to do at the end of the day, the execution, they got to do it.”
Between Burns and Karlsson, one of them will have to improve their play off the puck when the other has the puck up top. They’ve tried the right-handed Burns on the flank to feature his one-timer and Karlsson as a playmaker along the wall with no lasting success.
Perhaps some “interchangeability” will work: Let Burns rove, from high slot to net front? Let Karlsson work from behind the net?
What else do the San Jose Sharks have up their sleeve? We’ll see tonight.
San Jose Sharks (20-17-1)
No expected changes from the last game for the Sharks. pic.twitter.com/4Xr5wdw4kC
— The Content Boyz (@LockedOnSharks) January 15, 2022
Anything better than a Saturday morning skate? 🤗 pic.twitter.com/JHOEVumcO8
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) January 15, 2022
Pittsburgh Penguins (21-10-5)
Where to Watch
Puck drop against Pittsburgh is 7:30 PM PT at SAP Center. Watch it live on NBC Sports California and ESPN+. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.
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