There are certain times in life when giveaways are appreciated. Getting a free T-shirt, coffee mug, or any other type of swag for free is often hard to turn down.
Unfortunately, playing hockey is not one of those times.
In hockey, giveaways are one of those tell-all stats that you hate to see your team rack up. They show a team’s inability to consistently make accurate passes and more importantly how they are at protecting the puck.
Giveaways force the action to the move in the other direction, halting offensive attacks and often times creating odd man rushes. Too many of these unwanted stats per game can be seriously detrimental to the team’s cause.
Despite the San Jose Sharks success this season, giveaways have been one of the serious problems that needs to be addressed. The Sharks are currently ranked eighth in the NHL with 437 giveaways this season, continuing a worrisome trend over the past few years.
Since 2007, San Jose has finished in the top 10 in giveaways, and while it is easy to dismiss this because of their regular season success, sooner or later these giveaways will (and have) come back to bite the Sharks in the butt.
In last year’s playoffs, the Sharks gave up the puck 87 times, good enough to finish seventh amongst all playoff teams...and they didn’t even get past the first round. Could this excessive amount of giveaways have something to do with their early exit?
It certainly didn’t help.
The problem with giveaways seems to affect the entire roster but no more than their top line center.
It is not uncommon to see prolific passer Joe Thornton turnover the puck on an ill-advised pass. While he does have the ability to fit the puck into holes that no other passer may be able to, Joe has a tendency to sling the puck into traffic, hoping that it reaches someone wearing his jersey.
This doesn’t always turn out for the better.
Thornton leads the team with 50 giveaways this season and is fifth in the NHL. While these errors can be forgiven due to his overall production for the team, it is becoming a stat that is hard to overlook.
What is also confusing about the Sharks and their giveaways are the discrepancies in the stat at home and on the road.
This has been a reoccurring story.
At home this season, the Sharks ranked fifth with 300 giveaways, but when they take their show on the road, they seem to be more cautious with the puck, ranking 24th in the category with 137.
The extreme difference between these two stats has to make you wonder what makes this team change their mentality when on the road.
Is there a reason why they protect the puck better away from the Tank?
Why can’t they keep this mentality when playing in front of their home crowd?
While this mystery may never truly be solved, it is definitely an area that needs to be fixed sooner rather than later. Because giveaway numbers like these will make any team entering the Stanley Cup Playoffs salivated profusely.