So I treasure my subscription to the unofficial Chicago Blackhawks program, The Committed Indian. They had a particularly genius (and decidedly inappropriate) cartoon involving Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau a while back. But prior to Thursday's game against the Sharks, they pointed out that San Jose's overall individual +/- is -10 this season: "This lets you know just how off the Sharks defense has been. They were +32 last year."
I don't think this is the case. San Jose's defense is actually slightly better than it was last season at shot prevention at 5-on-5:
The big difference is that the Sharks' Finnish netminding tandem is as-advertised: merely league-average...
|5v5||% of Shots||% of Goals||Shot%||Save%||PDO||+/-|
You can see that there was a time when San Jose absolutely dominated puck possession and shot differential. That disappeared in 2009-10, but was masked by an inexplicable spike in shooting percentage and the now-unemployed Evgeni Nabokov's high save percentage in his walk year.
Even if the numbers on the scoreboard don't look as good as they have in the past, San Jose is actually a better team defensively this year than they were last year.