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Is Thornton being misused?

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02-07-2013, 05:09 AM
  #1
Phu
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Is Thornton being misused?

I have nothing but respect for Thornton for taking on the challenge of playing straight up with the best in the league and in most cases beating them. However I can't help but think -- he's a great two way player, but a truly elite playmaker, so maybe we are squandering his best quality by using him as we do.

As good as goalies are these days, it seems that you really have to work over another team on the ice to get reliable scoring. Beating another line by only a little or just battling them to a tie isn't going to reliably create offense, especially if reffing sucks.

Thornton's not the young speedster that is going to get several whacks at something defensively, then speed off with the puck (Datyuk, et. al.) for a breakaway or high-percentage transition chance. But when he has just a little more space to operate he is devastating.

Thornton as a 90+ point player may be more valuable to the team than as a 70-point, shutdown center. Our roster and system are very well-built defensively from top to bottom, and our d corps is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was during the RW years when Thornton ate the league up in sheltered minutes. Maybe it's time to set him loose a little, to give us a bigger home-ice advantage?

I can't help but think it would be good for his mental state as well, it's gotta be tough being a 100-point player and having to spend so much time defending against some real killers. Keeping everyone scoring and rolling should be good for morale.


Last edited by Phu: 02-07-2013 at 05:14 AM.
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02-07-2013, 05:26 AM
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If the Sharks had another line to match up with opposing team's top lines, maybe you could consider Jumbo being misused. The Couture line won't succeed against top opposition (at least not to the level of Thornton's line). And as our roster is current built, our bottom six barely hold their own against opposition bottom 6.

All that being said, IF the Sharks had a true shutdown 3rd line they could roll out against top opposition I would love for Thornton and his line mates to get easier minutes.

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02-07-2013, 05:56 AM
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I believe he's being utilized in a way that is most beneficial to the team.

That said, it would be very interesting to change up the lines and give Thornton softer matchups. Marleau-Pavelski-XXX, providing the missing player is at least average defensively, should be able to handle the toughs, and maybe give Thornton (and Couture on his wing, ideally) second-tier matchups and more offensive zone starts, and therefore more offense.

But I don't know nearly as much about hockey as the people who handle these decisions.

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02-07-2013, 06:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheJuxtaposer View Post
Marleau-Pavelski-XXX,
Winnik

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02-07-2013, 06:24 AM
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Originally Posted by juantimer View Post
Winnik
Hell no. He'd kill that line. If you'll remember that three game experiment, they didn't produce a lick of offense.

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02-07-2013, 08:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheJuxtaposer View Post
Hell no. He'd kill that line. If you'll remember that three game experiment, they didn't produce a lick of offense.
But he wouldn't have to if used as a shutdown line

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02-07-2013, 08:41 AM
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Thornton is being used fine. It's his mentality that is wrong. He needs to be treated as a threat to score himself just as much as he is to dish a setup pass. Those dual-threats are the most dangerous when they have his skill level especially in the playoffs. He needs to stop shrugging off the shooting responsibilities like he does because it's poor leadership on his part.

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02-07-2013, 08:54 AM
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Also if Jumbo shot more goalies would not just anticipate the pass first. That would help Sharks all around O-fence. As it is now goalies know Thornton will look to pass first maybe 90% of the time and key off of that. It is very frustrating to watch Joe pass up prime scoring chances just to pass. Anyone in my house knows when the Sharks are playing cause they can hear me yell "SHOOT JOE SHOOT, DAMMIT!

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02-07-2013, 10:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bullslugg View Post
Also if Jumbo shot more goalies would not just anticipate the pass first. That would help Sharks all around O-fence. As it is now goalies know Thornton will look to pass first maybe 90% of the time and key off of that. It is very frustrating to watch Joe pass up prime scoring chances just to pass. Anyone in my house knows when the Sharks are playing cause they can hear me yell "SHOOT JOE SHOOT, DAMMIT!
i also think that him shooting more will make him much more dangerous and he will produce more points that way too (assists off rebounds). the softer minutes is an interesting point that juantimer makes, but i think as many have said, the sharks are built to have joe cover the top opposition.

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02-07-2013, 10:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinkfloyd View Post
Thornton is being used fine. It's his mentality that is wrong. He needs to be treated as a threat to score himself just as much as he is to dish a setup pass. Those dual-threats are the most dangerous when they have his skill level especially in the playoffs. He needs to stop shrugging off the shooting responsibilities like he does because it's poor leadership on his part.
This. Joe misuses his own talents far more than he'll ever be misused. I doubt he's had a coach that hasn't begged him to shoot more.

And Datsyuk is a year older than Thornton as odd as that always seems.

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02-07-2013, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by joseph_kerr View Post
This. Joe misuses his own talents far more than he'll ever be misused. I doubt he's had a coach that hasn't begged him to shoot more.
I totally agree. If Thornton shot more goalies would have to front him more when he has the puck, which might give his wingers better angles when he did pass. I feel like now they can cheat a bit to anticipate the pass/shot from the winger.

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02-07-2013, 10:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinkfloyd View Post
Thornton is being used fine. It's his mentality that is wrong. He needs to be treated as a threat to score himself just as much as he is to dish a setup pass. Those dual-threats are the most dangerous when they have his skill level especially in the playoffs. He needs to stop shrugging off the shooting responsibilities like he does because it's poor leadership on his part.
Yup. He started off the year shooting the puck but has now regressed.

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02-07-2013, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by TheJuxtaposer View Post
Marleau-Pavelski-XXX.
James Sheppard.

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02-07-2013, 11:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gene Parmesan View Post
Yup. He started off the year shooting the puck but has now regressed.
I think he had no shots in like the first 3 games of the season or so. Then he started to shoot a lot, and now he's not shooting again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by juantimer View Post
But he wouldn't have to if used as a shutdown line
It's a waste of both Marleau and Pavelski's talent if you're not planning on using that line for any offense whatsoever.

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02-07-2013, 12:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gene Parmesan View Post
Yup. He started off the year shooting the puck but has now regressed.
actually he started the year off not shooting, then he went back to back games with 5 shots, and then has gone into nothing again.

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02-07-2013, 12:17 PM
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Thornton. It would appear that EVERYBODY, fans, reporters, coaches and probably his family has gone blue in the face about him shooting more. No doubt he's heard it time and again. It would seem he's just "built" that way. When he succeeds at his passes, they're often the brilliant kind. Hard to complain about that.

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02-07-2013, 12:39 PM
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not really the place, but it is about thornton.

but has any one seen the capgeek break down of thornton's current deal?

i never realized it started at 8mil, went to 7 mil, and ends at 6 mil.

could that final number be an indication of where thornton thinks he will sign at for his next deal?

if so that could be freeing up major cap space, knowing the structure of the sharks cap. nobody makes more then thornton (that isn't from a trade ofc).

if they keep that same structure, then the sharks could be looking at 3-4 million in cap savings between thornton and marleau.

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02-07-2013, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Barrie22 View Post
if they keep that same structure, then the sharks could be looking at 3-4 million in cap savings between thornton and marleau.
That's what we're hoping for. A 3-4 million deduction between the two of them to coincide with the ~4 million raise between Couture and Pavelski.

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02-07-2013, 01:22 PM
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That's what we're hoping for. A 3-4 million deduction between the two of them to coincide with the ~4 million raise between Couture and Pavelski.
i just find it kind of interesting that thornton's salary structure changed in this past contract. thornton was usually a what can you afford per year type player, ok give me 3 years at 7 mil across the board.

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02-07-2013, 01:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alaskanice View Post
Thornton. It would appear that EVERYBODY, fans, reporters, coaches and probably his family has gone blue in the face about him shooting more. No doubt he's heard it time and again. It would seem he's just "built" that way. When he succeeds at his passes, they're often the brilliant kind. Hard to complain about that.
I find it rather easy to complain about that.

It's actually a major part of what makes him rather easy to shut down in the playoffs.

Oh yes, he is extremely talented and gifted as a passer. Of that there is no doubt. But he makes himself so much easier to defend against by making himself so one-dimensional. Especially when he stands still and tries to make the same passes from the same spots (behind the net or along half-boards) every single time.

Now, even with that level of predictability, is he still talented enough to make brilliant passes to open teammates in prime scoring areas? Often times, yes. Against Edmonton's or Colorado's porous defense and shaky goaltending? Absolutely. Against a tired Coyotes team playing its second of back-to-back road games, and 3rd in 4 nights? Of course. Against a banged up Canucks defense missing one or two of its top blue-liners? Sure.

But when you get into the postseason, when you're playing against one of the top 2 or 3 defenses/goaltenders in the conference, when the opposition has a full week or more to devote to focusing just on shutting down Thornton and the top line/PP (a level of focus and PK/defensive strategizing that you just apply to 4 different opponents in 6 nights).....then Joe's brilliant passes suddenly magically cease to be as effective. Against tighter, tougher, more skilled, better prepared defenses, Thornton isn't able to get those same passes to the same places just on talent alone.

So the top line scoring suffers. And the PP unit suffers. Year after year after year. Because opposing defenses adapt to the Sharks in the playoffs. Joe Thornton would do very well if he adapted his own play to take advantage of what the opposing playoff teams are giving him (in particular, a clear skating lane to walk right up to the net). But he doesn't adapt. He refuses to adapt. So in the end, his stubbornness hurts the team.

Given the choice between walking in uncontested and shooting on a goal with an out-of-position goalie or trying to fire a pass through triple coverage, Joe Thornton will always choose the much lower percentage play of passing to a triple-covered teammate. Such a low-percentage play is just always plain bad decision.

Of course, low-percentage plays are not NO-percentage plays, so they will still work occasionally (which only serves to validate and reward his poor choices, thus encouraging him to keep try them again). And of course Joe Thornton is so tremendously talented enough that he can connect on and get away with a lot more of his bad on-ice decisions than pretty much anybody else. At least during the regular season against inferior defenses. In the playoffs, against top-tier defenses, against better prepared defenses, he gets away with it a lot less.....and the team pays for those bad decisions.

It may be true that he is just "built that way," but I find that is an empty excuse.....or at least that "the way he is built" explains some of his postseason struggles.

At least, that's what I've observed of him over the years.

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02-07-2013, 01:48 PM
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Is Pavelski being misused?

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02-07-2013, 02:13 PM
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1. It would be great if Joe shot more, drove the net with the puck, played like the world-class power forward he could be.

2. He's not going to do that.

3. So might it be a good idea to soften up his minutes so his passes DO have a chance in the playoffs and against tough opponents?

The analysis and complaints in this thread are my point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WTFetus View Post
It's a waste of both Marleau and Pavelski's talent if you're not planning on using that line for any offense whatsoever.
Thought experiment, though I didn't think Winnik was an offensive black hole. Given time to gel a fast player that is strong on the puck surely can find some offensive success with players of the caliber of Pavelski and Marleau, for example on the counterattack.

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02-07-2013, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by magic school bus View Post
Is Pavelski being misused?
Yes.

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02-07-2013, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by SJGoalie32 View Post
I find it rather easy to complain about that.

It's actually a major part of what makes him rather easy to shut down in the playoffs.

Oh yes, he is extremely talented and gifted as a passer. Of that there is no doubt. But he makes himself so much easier to defend against by making himself so one-dimensional. Especially when he stands still and tries to make the same passes from the same spots (behind the net or along half-boards) every single time.

Now, even with that level of predictability, is he still talented enough to make brilliant passes to open teammates in prime scoring areas? Often times, yes. Against Edmonton's or Colorado's porous defense and shaky goaltending? Absolutely. Against a tired Coyotes team playing its second of back-to-back road games, and 3rd in 4 nights? Of course. Against a banged up Canucks defense missing one or two of its top blue-liners? Sure.

But when you get into the postseason, when you're playing against one of the top 2 or 3 defenses/goaltenders in the conference, when the opposition has a full week or more to devote to focusing just on shutting down Thornton and the top line/PP (a level of focus and PK/defensive strategizing that you just apply to 4 different opponents in 6 nights).....then Joe's brilliant passes suddenly magically cease to be as effective. Against tighter, tougher, more skilled, better prepared defenses, Thornton isn't able to get those same passes to the same places just on talent alone.

So the top line scoring suffers. And the PP unit suffers. Year after year after year. Because opposing defenses adapt to the Sharks in the playoffs. Joe Thornton would do very well if he adapted his own play to take advantage of what the opposing playoff teams are giving him (in particular, a clear skating lane to walk right up to the net). But he doesn't adapt. He refuses to adapt. So in the end, his stubbornness hurts the team.

Given the choice between walking in uncontested and shooting on a goal with an out-of-position goalie or trying to fire a pass through triple coverage, Joe Thornton will always choose the much lower percentage play of passing to a triple-covered teammate. Such a low-percentage play is just always plain bad decision.

Of course, low-percentage plays are not NO-percentage plays, so they will still work occasionally (which only serves to validate and reward his poor choices, thus encouraging him to keep try them again). And of course Joe Thornton is so tremendously talented enough that he can connect on and get away with a lot more of his bad on-ice decisions than pretty much anybody else. At least during the regular season against inferior defenses. In the playoffs, against top-tier defenses, against better prepared defenses, he gets away with it a lot less.....and the team pays for those bad decisions.

It may be true that he is just "built that way," but I find that is an empty excuse.....or at least that "the way he is built" explains some of his postseason struggles.

At least, that's what I've observed of him over the years.
Excellent points here. Like you said, if Jumbo can adapt his game to what the defense is giving and taking away, he and the sharks will be much more dangerous and harder to defender.

Another point, Drew brought this up last game vs Chicago, is Joe's movement in the offensive zone (especially on the pp). I feel like lately he has barely even moved without the puck. He starts moving with/without the puck, that is going to open up shooting/passing lanes.

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02-07-2013, 03:08 PM
  #25
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Originally Posted by rbarker26 View Post
Excellent points here. Like you said, if Jumbo can adapt his game to what the defense is giving and taking away, he and the sharks will be much more dangerous and harder to defender.

Another point, Drew brought this up last game vs Chicago, is Joe's movement in the offensive zone (especially on the pp). I feel like lately he has barely even moved without the puck. He starts moving with/without the puck, that is going to open up shooting/passing lanes.
Again, this is the point. We've seen for several years now that he can be shut down for whatever reason, especially when penalties stop being called or we face strong defensive teams. He's is not currently a player that plays far enough above the level of other best players in the league in situations that favor defense, to create reliable offense (in fairness, I don't know if any player does). We are several years into the experiment, and at what point to do we stop hoping he does, and start using him in a way that maximizes the value of what he DOES do?

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