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Why did Conor Sheary struggle at the end of last year?

July 26, 2017, 1:08 PM ET [72 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Yesterday I talked about Conor Sheary's contract situation and what to make of it. Today I'm going to discuss one of the reasons that may be driving the team/fans towards skepticism in a new Sheary extension. What happened to his production later in the season?

This is a valid question. Sheary's production dropped off of a cliff. It should be taken into account. The important question that needs to be answered is: Why did it drop off?

My hypothesis is fairly simple, it was injury related. Conor Sheary suffered a concussion during the Washington series and that obviously didn't help his cause at all, but I don't believe the concussion was the root cause for the slip in production. Sheary was injured in a game on March 26th against the Philadelphia Flyers. It was labeled a lower body injury. From Rotoworld:

So my running hypothesis is that this is when the season went south for Sheary. I'm going to present some before and after stats which will include the playoffs.

Before the March 26th injury Conor Sheary played in 55 games with 770 minutes of even-strength action. He registered 46 even-strength points and had an even-strength points per 60 of 3.58(!). This is awesome production Sidney Crosby or not.

After March 26th is a much different story. When you combine the regular season and playoffs Sheary saw action in 28 more games in 2016-17. In those 28 games he only registered 10 points. He played 378 minutes at even-strength and his points per 60 plummeted to 1.58 which is way off from the pre-injury numbers.

The drop in production seems to correlate with the incident on March 26th and while there are certainly many variables in a hockey season I am of the belief that this was the major one that negatively impacted Sheary's final 28 games of the season.

Here's another visual of Sheary's production last year

The black is pre-injury and the yellow is post-injury. Sheary was playing some of his best hockey leading up to March 26th. Just look at how many multi-point games he was putting up. He wouldn't have another one the rest of the year.

After looking over the evidence above I don't feel as though Conor Sheary's ability to produce offense is compromised. I don't expect him to lead the NHL in 5v5 points per 60 again, but I also expect him to continue producing with Sidney Crosby at a quality rate.

Here's a nice positive to end on. After being a healthy scratch in the Ottawa series Conor Sheary returned for Game 7 against the Senators. In the seven games after his benching he played 99 minutes and had four even-strength points. His points per 60 was... 2.42.

Things still look bright for Conor Sheary's future.

Thanks for reading!
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