The San Jose Sharks are looking for a repeat performance tonight, just with different results.
The Sharks came out with just the loser point on Thursday after blowing a late lead. But for most of the 60 minutes, they were pleased with their play.
If they can keep it going against a banged-up Blues, a better result should be incoming.
Speaking of waiting for better results, Timo Meier, Bob Boughner, and Kevin Labanc talked about Meier’s lower-than-usual confidence right now.
We also touch on a game within the game to look for on the San Jose Sharks’ penalty kill tonight.
San Jose Sharks (6-7-2)
No projected changes for the #SJSharks lines. Dubnyk makes his return and is in net.
— Locked on LEONARD SZN (@LockedOnSharks) February 20, 2021
St. Louis Blues (10-5-2)
Jordan Kyrou-Ryan O’Reilly-David Perron
Zach Sanford-Brayden Schenn-Mike Hoffman
Austin Poganski-Oskar Sundqvist-Sammy Blais
Kyle Clifford-Jacob de la Rose-Mackenzie MacEachern
Torey Krug-Justin Faulk
Marco Scandella-Carl Gunnarsson
Vince Dunn-Robert Bortuzzo
(HT Lou Korac)
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is 4 PM PT at Enterprise Center. Watch it on NBC Sports Bay Area, FOX Sports Midwest, or NHL.tv.
Timo Meier is still finding his way – if he does, watch it. But first?
“Try to find those spots in front of the net, try to find those dirty goals,” Meier offered yesterday, on how to break out of his slump. “You get a couple of those, you’re going to be back playing at your best.”
The winger has just two goals in 15 games this season. He admitted: “I’m definitely not happy with my game.
“I could create more stuff, play with more confidence with the puck.”
Speaking of that confidence, how do you get that back when you’re slumping? As Meier suggested, a couple dirty goals would be nice. But failing that?
“[Mike] Ricci says it best,” Kevin Labanc offered, “’Just little thing them to death.’”
That’s blocking shots, picking up your man, turning over pucks on the forecheck, to name a few little things.
“If you’re not contributing offensively, if you’re not getting the goals, assists, or points, then you gotta make sure you’re doing something else,” Labanc said. “Finding ways to win.”
“His game, it starts with working hard away from the puck, doing the right things to be in the position to have the puck more,” Boughner pointed out. “Then we you get in the offensive zone, be heavy to play against, taking pucks to the net. So just playing heavier, a little harder, a little more detailed.”
Expectations are high for Meier, as they should be. He’s in the second year of a four-year, $24 million dollar contract, signed after scoring 30 goals in 2018-19 as a 22-year-old.
Labanc counseled patience: “The goals will start coming along. You just can’t let the pressure or anger get to you, that you’re not [scoring].”
“He could dominate games,” Boughner said. “He knows that.”
Speaking of the little things, Boughner liked that area of Noah Gregor’s game on Thursday:
“He was getting inside position. He was finishing hits. He was being physical around the net. Beating his check to the blue paint.
“Using his speed, being dangerous out there.
“I really liked his game. We’ve talked many times about his consistency.”
Boughner was talking about young guys Gregor, Leonard & Balcers needing to find consistency. Then he complimented Knyzhov big time: "Knysh seems to have figured it out."
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) February 20, 2021
SPORTLOGiQ Pre-Game Stat of the Day
Yesterday, we did a deep dive on a recent San Jose Sharks’ weakness on the PK – opposing power plays are finding it too easy to get the puck down to their net player and in a dangerous shot-pass position:
SPORTLOGiQ confirms that the Blues are strong at passing the puck into the slot on the power play – they’re 6th in the NHL in PP Passes to Slot.
Specifically, we’re talking about David Perron’s (57) pass to Oskar Sundqvist (70). Boughner pointed out what Sharks defensemen need to do to combat this high-to-low pass: “Have an outside stick, try to push that goal line guy further away from the net with a good stick.”
This will be a battle within the battle to watch tonight.
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