February 2, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan (top, pointing) instructs his bench during the overtime period against the Nashville Predators at HP Pavilion. The Predators defeated the Sharks 2-1 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

San Jose Sharks: Home Sweet Home And Road Woes


Apr 18, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski (8) and left wing Raffi Torres (13) and center Tommy Wingels (57) and defenseman Matt Irwin (52) and defenseman Dan Boyle (22) react after having scored a goal during the third period at the HP Pavilion. The San Jose Sharks defeated the Minnesota Wild 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks Sharks have always been a pretty good home team and this year has been no exception.  After the loss last night, which was only their second regulation loss all season at home, they boast a 16-2-5 home record for the season.

The total opposite happens when they are away from HP Pavilion with an 8-12-2 record that is far below .500.  In fact, they have earned 37 out of a possible 44 points at home this season, tied with Chicago for best in the league.  The difference there, however, is that Chicago is even better on the road.  Scary thought.

Here are some stats that show just how much better San Jose has been at home this season compared on the road…

Power Play …25% at home, 15% away
Goals Scored…65 at home, 45 away
Goals Allowed…43 at home, 60 away
Giveaways…347 at home, 110 away
Takeaways…213 at home, 117 away

I’ve highlighted in bold the two that stick out to me most.  First, the difference in power play percentage which is huge even though the difference in the amount of opportunities at home (80) and on the road (85) are pretty much the same.

Second, and probably most glaring, is the difference in giveaways. Yup that’s correct, that is a difference of 250 giveaways.  How they have 250 more  at home than away would baffle even rocket scientists.  All we can do here is try and guess the reasons and scratch our heads while wondering why.  My best guess would be they are more aggressive at home and thus willing to push the play resulting in more turnovers.  That would make sense since they have more giveaways and takeaways at HP Pavilion.

So why the discrepancies?  A few reasons.  There could be a mental aspect to it where guys are not coming in prepared to play.  It could also come from game preparation, or lack thereof, whether it be the fault of the players or the coaches.

Also, not getting in the correct mindset, especially on the road, can be a big hinderance early and often with a snowballing effect.  In fact, San Jose only has a .286 win percentage when their opponent scores first, good for 22nd in the league.

One mental aspect that is at least tangible is the ‘Shark Tank’.  It has been known to be one of the louder buildings in the NHL, especially during the playoffs, and that could definitely have an effect.  Sort of a 12th man effect that the Seahawks get when they play at home, although not to that extent.  Perhaps the guys feed off the energy of the crowd or maybe skating out of the awesome shark head gets them fired up before a game. I know I would be.

One thing that is NOT a factor this year is travel since there are no far east coast trips.  I say far east because they have played games in the eastern time zone such as Detroit and Columbus.  With the shortened season teams only played games against those within their respective conferences so the travel schedules should, for the most part, be equal.

In my opinion the biggest factor is probably coaching.  Playing on home-ice has one distinct advantage for coaches, they get the last change.  Having that last change can make all the difference too, especially when matchups are concerned.

McLellan and his coaching staff are able to take advantage of any mismatches where possible.  They are also able to ‘shelter’ some lines (both offensive and defensive) who are not as good on certain ends of the ice and throw them out in situations that are more advantageous to their strengths.

 

Whatever the case may be, gaining that fourth spot in the conference would be crucial for the Sharks.  Right now they are two points behind the L.A. Kings who they would have to beat outright in points because San Jose’s ROW’s (regulation + overtime wins) is far below that of Los Angeles’.

While that will be an uphill battle, it is still possible considering both teams play their last game of the season against one another.  That game has a high propensity to decide who will get home-ice advantage if the two were to face each other in a first round matchup.

 

Tags: San Jose Sharks