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Jumbo Joe Finally Breaks Through….Or Maybe Not

Sharks Thornton Skates in Denver

Not since 1987 has a Shark gotten his revenge like this.  But that was on the silver screen and this is on the frozen stage.

“Jumbo” Joe Thornton was shipped out of Boston for his failure to lead the Bruins to the promised land.  And since his arrival in San Jose, he’s been a regular season superstar and a playoff flop, as have the Sharks

With exits early in the playoffs in the last two years, the book on Jumbo has been that he retreats from the spotlight and shrinks when the moment is biggest.

But this year, he has broken out of the playoff purgatory and vanquished his demons…sort of.

I WANT to believe that Jumbo has turned it around.  I WANT him to shake the playoff jitters and at least match his fantastic regular season scoring pace.  I’m just not sure he actually has.

The turning point which sparked most observers and analysts into believing that Thornton had finally stepped up, was his fantastic performance in Game 3 against Detroit with a late goal to start the comeback along with an assist in OT. 

But let’s take a step back, put our perceptions aside and see what some of the numbers have to tell us.  Thornton has 11 points in 11 games, but is -6 so far in the playoffs.

For those more statistically inclined (or want to be), let’s take a look at his regular season and playoff performances over the last three seasons.  If you’d like an explanation of any of the stats, just click here.

Joe’s +/- has been worse (when compared to his teammates) in the playoffs each of the last 3 years.  He has been worse in possession (Corsi) in the playoffs 2 of the last 3 years and his point production has dropped significantly in the playoffs as well.

While I’d love to believe that Jumbo has turned the corner, it’s more a matter of the Sharks finally getting over the hump than Joe elevating his game.  Frankly, they won despite his output, not because of it.

Probably the most alarming thing about this year’s playoff performance is how he is being used.  During the regular season, Thornton started 49.8% of his shifts in the offensive zone.  This means he put up respectable +/-, possession and point production stats without having the benefit of being gifted all the offensive zone faceoffs.  In the playoffs, however, he has started 57.3% of his shifts in the offensive zone and still been severely underwater in the +/- department and has less production than in the regular season.

Despite all the media attention otherwise, it appears that Joe Thornton’s emergence is still on hold, and we’re hoping that we don’t have to listen to the automated answering service for too long before we’re connected.

Buzz it!
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