The San Jose Sharks have now gone four games without a power play goal, a season-long.
They sure could’ve used a PP goal (or two) last night in their four attempts in a 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins.
Instead, the Sharks are now 0-for-their-last-15 on the man advantage.
This slump has brought to sharp relief an elephant in the room that we’ve ignored all season: The San Jose Sharks are a one-unit power play. If the top unit of Erik Karlsson-Alexander Barabanov-Timo Meier-Logan Couture-Tomas Hertl isn’t firing, the Sharks aren’t scoring on the power play.
The last time that a Shark not in the lead group scored a non-empty net power play goal was a month ago, Kevin Labanc on Dec. 6 against the Buffalo Sabres. In total, the second unit has scored just four of San Jose’s 24 PP goals, a pair from Labanc and a pair from Luke Kunin, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury last month.
Here’s another way to look at it, per Natural Stat Trick, comparing the Per 60 underlying stats of the top unit to Kevin Labanc-Nick Bonino, the two most-common players on San Jose’s second unit.
Now this isn’t to pile on San Jose’s PP2, currently manned by Matt Benning-Nico Sturm-Matt Nieto-Labanc-Bonino.
“They don’t get a lot of time, in fairness to them,” Quinn said, standing up for his players. “It’s usually a change. It’s a little disjointed. So in fairness to them, rarely is [their shift] off a faceoff, which gives you a much better chance to have some success.”
Also in fairness to them? Before this year, Benning hadn’t taken a regular power play shift since the 2018-19 season. Nieto hasn’t since 2016-17. Sturm never has. These are all good players who shouldn’t be power play regulars.
The 12-21-8 San Jose Sharks, as they have all season, are asking too much of too many players.
And it looks like they’ll just have to carry on. On the big club, there aren’t a lot of viable power play options to choose from. In the minors, top prospects William Eklund and Thomas Bordeleau could probably help the second power play unit, but the Sharks aren’t in any hurry to call them up.
So it’s on Benning, Nieto, Sturm, and company to seize the opportunity that they’re receiving.
If they don’t? San Jose just continues to be short-handed on the man advantage.
Sheng’s Travel Fund
Help fund Sheng's travel! Every dollar goes to the cost of getting to and from Sharks road games.