For several seasons, the San Jose Sharks have combined strong 5-on-5 offense with defense that prevented their opponents from getting shots against them. In each of the last two seasons, the Sharks have had the 4th-best shot differential at 5-on-5 in the league. But this year, they can't play defense anymore:
This is surprising because San Jose has five skilled face-off men and has put up the 2nd-best faceoff percentage since the NHL started recording the data in 1997:
It's amazing that San Jose can be so prolific in the face-off circle yet control shots so poorly. With just average face-off takers, San Jose would be a complete disaster. Actually they're already a disaster - here's their rank in Corsi% (=SF/(SF+SA)) by period in one-goal and tie game this season:
|Corsi%||Up 1||Tied||Down 1|
The only thing that's keeping the Sharks in the game is Evgeni Nabokov's high save percentage.
There's no doubt about it: Nabokov is playing way over his head. If we expect Craig Anderson to come down a bit over the next couple of months, we should logically expect Nabokov to crash hard. The irony is that Nabokov put up his best numbers in San Jose's weakest season in recent memory - had he played in good luck like this in either of the last two seasons, the Sharks could be very well be laughing at their many detractors while drinking from the Stanley Cup.