San Jose Sharks: Postseason Grades for Every Forward

MJ Kasprzak@BayAreaCheezhedSenior Writer IIMay 15, 2012

San Jose Sharks: Postseason Grades for Every Forward

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    Just like the San Jose Sharks, writers and readers and fans are in the process of analyzing the team.

    What went wrong? What changes can be made?

    I went into depth with problems with the coaching staff and management before examining the players. But they focus on the season as a whole. Let's look now specifically at their playoff performance.

    The season only has to be good enough to get a team into the playoffs. Case in point: the Sharks' Pacific Division rival Los Angeles Kings are still alive.

    They dropped two straight nail-biters to the Sharks to end the season and were passed by their fellow Californians from the north. But the regular season was just good enough to get them to the postseason, and they now look like the Stanley Cup favourite.

    How players performed in one short five-game series is hardly indicative of whether they should be around for the future. But that just makes it so much easier to grade.

    Grades need to be as objective as possible. They also have to consider the entire body of work, as in from all five games and counting the stats less obvious than points (not much help if you are giving them up—just ask the Pittsburgh Penguins) or misleading than plus/minus.

    Hence, the players are listed from best to worst grades, based on their total contribution as quantified by the total quotient. That has offensive (OQ) and defensive (DQ) components.

    Offensive Quotient factors in assists, assist-to-giveaway ratio and goals with more weight to game-winners. (Because goals are not dependent on assists as assists are on goals and are less numerous, they are usually worth more than assists.)

    Defensive Quotient gives the most weight to takeaways, next to blocked shots and least to hits, also considering possession differential (faceoff wins and takeaways minus faceoff losses and giveaways). A takeaway is most valuable because it turns an opponent possession into a Sharks possession. The blocked shot stops a scoring opportunity and is thus still more valuable than a hit that merely neutralizes one player.

    If you like—or feel the urge to take another shot at—these playoff grades for Sharks forwards, you may want to look for my next set of grades for the blue line and goalies...

Logan Couture: A

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    Logan Couture had a goal and three assists with a minus-one rating. He was playing with a shoulder separation, but players will be graded only on their performance, not what mitigating factors influenced it.

    Nevertheless, Couture graded the best (9.8) because he was second in points and had the best offensive quotient (7.0), thanks to just one giveaway. His defensive quotient (2.8) rated middle of the pack, despite being tied for first in takeaways and fifth in hits, because he blocked just one shot.

Joe Thornton: A

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    To the eye, Joe Thornton had the best series of any San Jose Sharks player. But the formula recognizes the damage caused by his third-highest giveaway total over his smaller assist total.

    Nevertheless, the captain was in on over half his team's scoring and was tied for the lead in both assists and goals. His offensive quotient (4.4) was second to only Logan Couture, and his defensive quotient (3.29) is fifth despite his relatively low number of hits, blocks and takeaways.

    Why? Faceoffs. Todd McLellan saw that Joe was one Shark who would win faceoffs in the playoffs like he did in the regular season. Thus he sent him out for many important defensive draws.

Martin Havlat: B-

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    Martin Havlat came into the playoffs hot, scoring a point per game since returning from a December injury. He scored two of the three goals in the San Jose Sharks' only win in the series, including the double overtime game-winner.

    But much like the rest of the season, he could not be counted on for anything more. In the other four games, he had just one point and a minus-one rating.

    Still, he was tied for the lead in goals and for third in points, with just one giveaway. This led to him holding the third-best offensive quotient (4.0).

    Unfortunately, he did not live up to his reputation as a defender. With just one takeaway, four blocks and two hits, he finished with a defensive quotient of just 1.44, seventh-lowest on the team and fifth-lowest among forwards.

Ryane Clowe: B-

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    Ryane Clowe was tied for the worst plus-minus rating on the team. He had four giveaways, did not score a goal, blocked just two shots, had a single takeaway and lost his only faceoff.

    However, his three assists were tied for the team lead, and his 16 hits were one off the team lead. And while his defensive quotient (2.16) is above only eight skaters, his offensive quotient (2.4) is good enough for fourth on a team that managed fewer than two goals per game.

    Of course, the Los Angeles Kings proved the curve wrong that suggested three assists was impressive against the St. Louis Blues. They scored 15 goals in four games.

Tommy Wingels: C+

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    Tommy Wingels' effort really comes through in the numbers.

    Only three players spent less time on the ice, including two who were not active in a couple games. Despite a lack of opportunity and a questionable supporting cast, he had a great assist and finished tied for fifth in offensive quotient in large part because he had no giveaways.

    He may not have had a takeaway, either, but he led the San Jose Sharks in hits (17) and was not on the ice when a single goal was given up. He won one of two faceoffs and was 10th in defensive quotient (2.56) despite not accruing the playing time needed to amass stats.

Daniel Winnik: C

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    Daniel Winnik is the one forward the San Jose Sharks traded for late in the season who panned out.

    In the playoffs, he had just one point and a 1.0 offensive quotient thanks to a single giveaway. With no even-strength goals scored while he was on the ice, his modest five hits and three blocks are just enough to support an impressive five takeaways.

    Even with one more faceoff lost than won, he finished with a 3.19 defensive quotient, sixth-best on the team despite a dozen skaters having more ice time to produce.

Andrew Desjardins: C-

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    Being one of only a half dozen San Jose Sharks with a goal is noteworthy. When more than twice that number get more ice time, it should set someone apart.

    But Andrew Desjardins still got only that single point, giving him an equivalent offensive quotient. Of course, scoring is not why Desjardins is on the ice...

    Another forward without a goal scored on him at even strength, Desjardins was the team's second-best option in the faceoff circle and called upon in tough situations. He had nine hits, two blocks and two takeaways to finish with a 3.01 defensive quotient.

Joe Pavelski: D+

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    We now know why clutch San Jose Sharks centre Joe Pavelski was held scoreless in the series: He was battling multiple injuries. But whatever the reason, he had a series to forget.

    Obviously no points means a zero offensive quotient, but he did play well defensively (3.3) despite the team-worst minus-three rating. He had six hits, nine blocks and four takeaways. Had he not struggled in the faceoff circle (43 percent), he would have finished even higher.

Torrey Mitchell: D

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    Torrey Mitchell is a great skater known as one of the San Jose Sharks' best defenders. Thus, having just one assist when his teammates struggled to score is acceptable, especially given he played just 65:10 in the entire series.

    With his lack of a giveaway, he actually has a 2.0 offensive quotient. But he let his teammates down in his own end, missing more than one assignment either by watching the puck or over-skating the play.

    That showed up in the formula, as his paltry four hits, four blocks and no takeaways gave him a 0.8 defensive quotient, lower than anyone who played more than two games. He also lost seven faceoffs to just two wins.

Patrick Marleau: D-

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    Patrick Marleau is the San Jose Sharks' all-time leader in just about every offensive category in both the regular season and the playoffs. He has been one of the Sharks' few consistent weapons and is the only current player to have scored more than a point per game in the playoffs for San Jose.

    He went scoreless in this series and was not listed among those playing through injury. He had two giveaways and lost four more faceoffs than he won. He had no takeaways and only six blocked shots.

    However, he was fourth on the Sharks in hits with 12, helping him to a barely acceptable 2.28 defensive quotient.

Others: F

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    Now we come to the forwards who were so ineffective that they were scratched. None of them scored, and thus all had zero offensive quotient ratings.

    Dominic Moore played just over 45 minutes in three games but is best known for being the object of a sucker punch in Game 2. His defensive quotient was 1.52 thanks to three takeaways.

    T. J. Galiardi is the same minus-one as Moore but in under 38 minutes. He accrued few defensive statistics but, thanks to winning three of four faceoffs, has a 1.31 quotient.

    From there it gets worse.

    Michal Handzus, brought in for veteran grit on the checking line last summer, played just 21:56 over two games because, while he was not scored upon at even strength, his faceoff struggles (10 of 25) made him a liability. His defensive quotient is 0.4.

    Brad Winchester played just over six minutes in his single game suiting up. He was a non-factor, with only two hits and a missed shot on the entire stat sheet.