Last season was the first time since his rookie year that Joe Thornton scored less than ten goals in an 82-game season. It was no coincidence that his 1.03 shots per game were his lowest since his first campaign, according to Hockey Reference, and that his 2.95 shots on goal per 60 minutes in five-on-five situations were his lowest since the NHL first began tracking shot attempts in 2007-08, according to Corsica Hockey. This season, Thornton’s just three goals away from matching his total from a season ago after scoring his fourth in Tuesday night’s win over the Philadelphia Flyers. He’s now scored two goals in his last four games, after scoring the same amount in his previous 19. That mark ties him with linemate Joe Pavelski, and fellow member of the over-35 club Joel Ward, for fifth on the team. How’s Thornton managed to do it? Simply put, he’s shooting the puck more. Much to the delight of Sharks fans that have cried out for him to shoot whenever he has the puck on his stick in the offensive zone, he’s shooting a hair over two more shots every 60 minutes of five-on-five play (5.05 iSF/60, per Corsica) than he did last year. Across all situations, he’s shooting nearly half-a-shot more per game than last year (1.49, per Hockey Reference).
The key to Joe Thornton's recent scoring surge
NBC Sports Bay Area | Nov 29