Thursday, January 11, 2007

Oilers 3, Sharks 2

What a shitty game. The Sharks gave up the first goal (AGAIN) last night, and quickly found themselves in an 0-3 hole less than 12 minutes into the game. Marcel Goc managed to score only seconds later to make it 3-1. I'm sure anybody that listened to the game or watched it on TV heard that this is the third straight start where Nabokov gave up 3 goals in the first period. The first time was Phoenix, when the Coyotes ended up winning 8-0 (too cold), the second was against the Wings, when the Sharks ended up winning 9-4 (too hot) and last night, when we lost 3-2 (just right).

It certainly seems that Nabokov has trouble making the early save. Two of the goals last night were on the power play, and those two probably weren't his fault. But spotting the other team 3 goals isn't exactly a winning formula. It's pretty much common sense that the team that scores the first goal has a much better chance of winning, but let's flip that aphorism on it's head, and look at it from the other direction.

In the last 15 games, the Sharks are 8-7. In 10 of those games, the Sharks did not score the first goal. They are 5-0 in the games they did score the first goal, and 3-7 in the ones they didn't, which sounds like a decent percentage. But it's not- this year, the league average winning percentage of teams that don't score first is .315.

Using's handy-dandy stats tool, we can see that the Sharks are the best in the league when they score first - 18-3. If they don't score first they 10-12, which is good enough for 5th best. Believe it or not, Buffalo is 10-4-2 when they don't score first, a .625 winning percentage.

Clearly, the Sharks need to focus more on 1st-period play.

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