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Game Preview/Lines #20: Karlsson Off PK? Sharks NHL-Best in Key Offensive Area

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Credit: The Point Hockey

For the San Jose Sharks, it was a rousing 6-2 victory over Colorado on Monday. Can they repeat the feat?

Their record suggests not – they’re still searching for their first consecutive win this season – but a key SPORTLOGiQ micro-stat suggests that their recent scoring explosion has some legs.

Also, lost in the Erik Karlsson hoopla on Monday? He wasn’t a top-four option on the penalty kill, as he has been all season. Bob Boughner explains below.

San Jose Sharks (8-9-2)

 

Colorado Avalanche (11-7-1)

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Where to Watch

Puck drop is 7:30 PM PT at SAP Center. Watch it on NBC Sports Bay Area, Altitude Sports, or NHL.tv.

Morning Skate

Erik Karlsson enjoyed a resurgent game at 5-on-5 on Monday:

Winning Play: I Re-Watched Every Karlsson Shift from Monday | SJHN+

On top of that, he added a power play goal.

But what about the penalty kill? There, he played behind Brent Burns, Mario Ferraro, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and Radim Simek, an unusual place for Karlsson, who’s been a short-handed regular since 2015-16. On top of that, when asked about potentially playing less on the PK two weeks ago, Karlsson struck a defiant tone, saying, “I’ve been killing for a long time in this league. I’m expecting to do so until the day that I’m done.”

Karlsson Leaves Sharks Practice Early; Strikes Defiant Tone About PK Usage

So how did Boughner explain Karlsson’s usage, or lack thereof, in short-handed situations on Monday?

“We were unaware of how he was going to come back. We’re obviously pleasantly surprised how he’s played and how he looks, his jump,” Boughner said.

“A lot of games this week, we’re trying to manage ice time better.

“We know that Karly is going to play a lot of power play and in special situations. That’s not to say he’s off the kill by any means.

“We have Burnzie and Mario matched up against that big line most of the night, and they’re going to start the kill obviously, against those big guys. But if we could spread minutes out, we have six guys capable of killing penalties back there. It’s just a smart thing to do. I wouldn’t read into it.”

Boughner did admit that taking Karlsson off the penalty kill, at least on Monday, might have helped the daring defender on the other side of the puck:

“In the short term, yes.

“I think if we can get him into that mid-20s max, I think that’s a good spot for him and keeps him fresh for the power play, keeps him fresh on the offensive side of things.

“But he’s still a guy who plays major, major minutes. There’s no decision, hey he’s off the PK or anything like that. It’s just managing, especially in a week, like we have.”

This will be an interesting thing to monitor in the coming weeks.

SPORTLOGiQ Pre-Game Stat of the Night

I’ve reported a lot of less-than-savory San Jose Sharks stats in this section so far this season.

And hey, who could blame me? I’m not the one with an 8-9-2 record. But credit to Boughner and company – the team defense and goaltending is still suspect, but they’ve built an intriguing offensive group.

San Jose is just 18th in the NHL with 2.89 Goals Per Game, but their micro-stats suggest more production could be on the way.

Per SPORTLOGiQ, the Sharks lead the league in Even Strength Inner Slot Shots on Net. Their 7.33 Per 60 is far above, for example, the Avalanche’s 23rd-ranked 5.64.

Essentially, San Jose is doing a great job of getting shots from “the highest-danger area of the ice” and “where nearly half of all goals have been scored in the last three seasons.” That’s the green diamond area in front of the net, per The Point Hockey:

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