Shark-Infested Blogger

May 12, 2010 6:03 PM

Round Two Performance Grades, Forwards

The San Jose Sharks are through the second round of the playoffs for the second time in franchise history, and the first time for all but two current members of the team.

A feat like this is not achieved lightly, and takes a full team effort. The Sharks forwards epitomize this with their report card, as two lines produced en masse; here are the player grades (based on the players' role--i.e. more is expected of a first-line forward than a fourth-liner) from highest to lowest for that unit:

Joe Thornton: A

Let me just get this out of the way: I do not want to hear how Thornton had a good series against Colorado, but just did not score. I do not want to hear how he did all the "little things" or focused on defence. He was the Sharks worst centre in the faceoff circle, worst player in plus-minus, and managed just three points, one of which came on an assist of an empty-net goal.

4402777412_e1e32d8a19.jpgHe played terribly, end of story. But as bad as he was in the first round, he was equally good against a better Detroit team in a series the Sharks could not have won without him playing well.

He won 54 percent of his draws and was a physical force (four hits in Game One, six in the other four games). He had three goals on ten shots and five assists in five games, and was involved in three of the team's four game winners. He limited his normally high turnover count to six despite starting the series against the best defensive forward in the NHL, against whom he still managed a goal and an assist.

That being said, his minus-two in the series was the goal-scoring margin of the two teams (Detroit 17, San Jose 15), and half of the even strength difference (15-11). Thus, he cannot get a high A, but barely made the grade.

Joe Pavelski: A-

The Big Pavelski found the back of the net a team-leading four times, but all were in Games One and Two. Unlike Thornton, once his line was matched up with Pavel Datsyuk's, the scoring came to a screeching halt: After getting two goals and an assist in each of the first two games, he managed just one assist in the last three.

However, he did contribute defensively, tying for second on the team with four takeaways, and did open things up for the Burger Line by drawing Datsyuk away from them. He won 53 percent of his draws and pushed play to help the Sharks maintain momentum. And without his play in the first two games, the team collapses under the weight of two home losses and is likely eliminated easily.

Dany Heatley: B+

Heater quietly leads the team in assists this post-season and is second in points with 11 in the ten games he has played. In this series, he had two goals and five assists, but like Thornton also went minus-two. Nonetheless, he has played well enough in his own end (five hits, three takeaways and just two giveaways) and his presence has been more steady than that of his linemates.

Patrick Marleau: B+

Marleau has been inconsistent, but was regaining his strength after the flu knocked him out of Game One. He managed to get 18 of his 25 shots to the net, and scored the game-winner in both Games Three (in overtime) and Five to clinch the series, and gathered a couple assists, as well.

While he scored less than his linemates, Marleau's contributions were more obvious statistically on defence in this series: Patty finished plus-one for the series, registered 10 hits and his giveaway-takeaway ratio was the best on the team (4:1).

Devin Setoguchi: B

Devin may have only had two goals (tying the team lead in missed shots with eight and finishing fifth with 11 shots) and no assists, but he was all over the ice. He finished plus-one and was third on the team in the series in hits with 14. He had two takeaways and just two giveaways, making him one of six players who did not have more of the latter than the former.

Scott Nichol: B-

True, Nichol was a minus-two with no points. But in the second-fewest shifts among every-game players, he was fourth on the team with 11 hits, and he led the team in successful draws with 63.4 percent, and that is why he was often put out in the defensive zone after not being on the ice for several minutes to take them.

Manny Malhotra: C+

Manny had no points largely because he could not find the net: 12 of his 18 shots were either missed (eight was tied for second behind Pavelski) or blocked. He also struggled with giveaways, having six (tied for second most on the Sharks) to just two takeaways. However, he was his usual contributor in hits (nine), blocks (six led all forwards) and faceoffs (57.7 percent).

Jamie McGinn: C+

I have to admit to thinking the Sharks should have scratched McGinn, who I was noticing in any positive way on the ice. He finished with no points and a minus-one rating.

However, this shows either the danger of watching the camera (which follows the puck) too much or relying too much on statistics, but I favour the latter as more objective if they include non-scoring stats and variables are considered: McGinn had the fewest shifts of any player who was dressed for every game, and yet registered seven hits and four blocks, with three takeaways to just one giveaway. He even won one of two faceoffs.

Logan Couture: C+

The rookie had a huge goal in Game Three that sent the Sharks to overtime, even if it was a softy. He had no other points and was even for the series, and he struggled to get pucks to the net (seven shots on goal, five blocked, and five missed the net), and was horrible on draws (five of 15). However, he had eight hits, three takeaways (four giveaways), and five blocked shots, so he was a good defensive presence once the faceoff was over--not bad for a guy who played just 25 regular season games in his NHL career.

Dwight Helminen: C

Helm played in just two games and was on the ice for a mere two dozen shifts, yet he registered two very significant stats--four hits and four penalty minutes...high risk, high reward. He was minus one with literally no other stats.

Ryane Clowe: C-

The Newfoundland native was his usual physical force with a team-leading 17 hits, and along with Thornton, took penalties in the third period of the Game Four blowout loss to send a message. However, more is expected out of the team's sometime-alternate captain and a player who averaged four points in five games during the regular season.

He had just a goal and an assist and was minus-one and lost a whopping 12 of 13 faceoffs. His seven giveaways were worst on the team and balanced by only three takeaways, he attempted 18 shots but got just 10 to the net, and he had just two blocks.

Torrey Mitchell: D

Mitchell's speed was a factor, but if a guy is just a skater who cannot close, you may as well put in Dan Jansen. Despite receiving time on the first line, Mitchell had just one assist and a minus-four rating; once he was dropped back to the checking lines, the top line starting producing. Mitchell managed just seven shots on goal in over 100 shifts, missed two and had five blocked. He had eight hits but no blocks and just one takeaway to go with two giveaways and won two of four draws.

Jed Ortmeyer: D-

There was a reason Ortmeyer appeared in just one game: After managing just one hit and one shot and going minus-two in 15 shifts on a line that otherwise performed reasonably well in the series, we may have seen the last of Jed this spring.

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