Tuesday, March 8, 2011

With No Dan Boyle, San Jose Sharks Shaking Things Up On The Power-Play

The San Jose Sharks have the third best power-play percentage in the NHL with a 22.1% success rate behind the dominant Vancouver Canucks and surging Chicago Blackhawks. But this recent drought in goals on the power-play by the Sharks has coach Todd McClellan making changes.

The Sharks have scored just one goal in their last 12 power-play chances, something a top-line of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley should never do. But it isn't what the top-line isn't doing, but who is lacking on the power-play that has the Sharks reeling.

Dan Boyle, Sharks defensman and power-play extraordinaire, has been sidelined these last couple of weeks with an upper body injury.

Boyle's replacement on the power-play? Youngster Jason Demers. And since then the Sharks have gone one for 12 on power-plays.

Time to make a change, right?

Well, of course. But McClellan isn't the type of coach to make a small change here and there. If he's making a change, he's going to make sure the change sends a message.

For tonight's game against the Nashville Predators, the Sharks will be splitting up the top power-play line of Thornton, Heatley and Marleau, and making it Thornton, Marleau and Setoguchi.

Doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

Since Demers hasn't cut it, or at least success hasn't come on the power-play while he is on the ice, newly acquired Ian White will be getting the top power-play time instead.

The Sharks acquired White for his offensive abilities on defense, so it is only fitting for him to get his shot at the top power-play unit. He will be the only true defenseman on the ice during the power-play, as Joe Pavelski usually plays both ways.

Boyle is only day-to-day, so the changes should not last long, but McClellan knows his team cannot afford to struggle this much on such an important part of their game.

It will be a good test for White, though, as he has yet to make a significant impact on the ice as a member of the Sharks.

A good opportunity for him, and a good opportunity for the Sharks to get off the power-play schneid.

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