Two dudes blogging and podcasting about the San Jose Sharks, straight from sunny California.

post What a Difference a Week Makes

January 25th, 2010, 7:50 pm

Filed under: blog — Written by Mike

This week is the Week of Secondary Scoring.  I read these posts on Fear the Fin ten days ago, and they put into blog form what everyone was a little worried about – the fact that Heater and Patty were scoring all the goals.  This week, all that changed.

My analysis is different from FTF because I included Joe Thornton, trying to make a distinction between top scorers, top lines, and balanced scoring.  Partly because I think you can’t say Heatley and Marleau would be scoring at the same clip without Big Joe’s 67 54 assists this year.  And also partly because if your top two scorers are on different lines (like Kopitar and Brown in L.A.), your scoring is more balanced than Detroit, Anaheim, and the Sharks, whose top three scorers are on the same line together.  Keep in mind this is an inexact science, since many coaches shuffle lines fairly regularly.  I got these lines from the most recent games these teams have played, thanks to  Here they are, in current conference standing order.

Team Top Line Top Line Goals Total Goals For Top Heavy %
Sharks Jumbo-Heatley-Marleau 78 179 43.58%
Chicago Toews-Kane-Brower 52 170 30.59%
Colorado Wolski-Stewart-Stastny 44 153 28.76%
Vancouver Sedin-Sedin-Burrows 60 167 35.93%
Phoenix Upshall-Lombardi-Doan 40 139 28.78%
Nashville Sullivan-Arnott-Hornqvist 42 143 29.37%
Los Angeles Kopitar-Simmonds-Richardson 39 151 25.83%
Calgary Iginla-Glencross-Conroy 34 132 25.76%
Detroit Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Bertuzzi 38 131 29.01%
Anaheim Getzlaf-Ryan-Perry 56 148 37.84%

As expected, the Sharks are way out front, the top line scoring over 20 goals more than any other top line, and accounting for more than two out of every five goals scored.

But this past week, and admittedly it’s a small sample size, it’s wildly different.  The top line, in the four games this week, scored 5 of the 22 goals scored, or 22.7%, lower than any other top line on this list.  The Olympic Line (or the Burger Line, or the HTML line, whatever) will be staying together for the conceivable future, and teams have been targeting them all season to no avail.  That’s not to say that they couldn’t suffer a letdown, maybe after the Olympics, or in the playoffs (again.  Do I really have to type ‘again’ again?).

So which is better- having an unstoppable first line, or having four very even lines like Buffalo had on Saturday?  Frankly, I want the superstars putting up superstar numbers.  If the Sharks only have three guys that can score at all, it doesn’t matter how the lines are constituted, we’ll be in for another playoff disappointment.  But the opportunities presented themselves, Boyle was out of the lineup, and the second and third lines stepped up.  I’m very encouraged.  If Patty, Jumbo, and Heater decide to put up six goals between them per game and freeze everyone else out, I’ll find a way to live with it.

9 Comments to “What a Difference a Week Makes”

  1. Mr. Plank says:

    Great analysis Mike.

    I’m still concerned about the secondary scoring, but this past week was obviously a very good one to see out of San Jose’s lower lines. If they keep it up for the next two weeks it will go a long way to convincing me (ever the cynic) that they have managed to turn a corner.

    As an aside, so glad timeonice’s shift charts came back a couple days ago. I really missed them the first half of the season.

    • Mr. Plank says:

      Also, I know from the Podcast that you own a 360. Any intention on purchasing Mass Effect 2? Have you played the first installment? If not, I highly recommend it.

      • Mike says:

        The secondary scoring topic is an interesting one. If your team has players that score a truckload, it wouldn’t surprise me to see that they don’t have a lot of ‘secondary scoring’. Mostly because they just don’t need to score as many goals when AO is putting up 60. Does that mean Brooks Laich is a piker? I dunno. Maybe a theme for a future post.

        Yeah, I’m glad timeonice is back too, but it’s a little strange you have to create the url’s yourself. I’m still experimenting to see what’s available.

        And I’m so addicted to MW2 right now, I don’t know if I can squeeze in another game. I tend to play only one game at a time, and get fixated. Plus I’m sure my wife wouldn’t be thrilled if I added more 360 time.

  2. Andy C says:

    Although the table appears to show a worrying reliance on 1st line scoring, another way of looking at the numbers is to look at the actual number of secondary goals scored. Using the numbers above, this would rank the Sharks 5= out of the 10 teams above with 101 non-top line goals & would put them in the middle of the pack. OK, not great, but as DW’s strategy has $21m tied up in those 3 top line players (& $6.5m in goalies), middle of the pack may represent a good return for spending less than £29m on those 9 forwards & 6 d-men (& scratches)…

    Well OK, maybe Dallas has taken the salary hit for at least one of those goals (Ivan Vishnevsky!)

  3. Bryce says:

    Minor correction. Thornton has 54 Assists and 13 goals for a total of 67 points, not 67 assists.

    This secondary scoring is what failed us down the stretch last year and it seemed like even when things were going well, the third line and occasional 4th line goal were more few and far between. The ability to dump Clowe to the third line has given this team a third line that has a potential to score, not just check or create energy or shut the other team down.

    This last week has shown us that this team has more depth and grit than the teams from the past years. I hope that they bring that ability to the playoffs when a goal is needed.

  4. Tom says:

    Doug and Mike…

    Not sure if you have yet to see “the pics” of Kane and Versteeg in the limo…

    But, could you please mock them mercilessly on the next pod cast??

    Seriously, Kane your better at scoring GOALS…

  5. Tom says:

    Doug and Mike…

    Not sure if you have yet to see “the pics” of Kane and Versteeg in the limo…

    But, could you please mock them mercilessly on the next pod cast??

    Seriously, Kane you’re better at scoring GOALS…

  6. Ruben says:

    Well, I’m glad that Clowe has gotten hot again on the 3rd line. I just never saw Clowe-Seto-Pavs put together any real chemistry, even though they are a prototypical line (power forward-Sniper-Playmaker).

    And I agree with Andy, perhaps there should be a follow up to this with a table that ranks the bottom lines by total goals, because the secondary scorers are being punished for playing behind two of the top 4 goal scorers and the #1 assist man in the league. The Sharks are top heavy in a good way, in that they have supreme top talent and average depth scorers.


    Sometimes I forget that Kane is only 22 years old and doing the exact things that rich college kids would do at that age. That said, this is now the life of the pro athlete in the internet era, you can’t do ANYTHING nowadays without it ended up on a blog. In any event, there are rumors that at least some of those pics are photoshopped, but it sure does seem to fit his personality!

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