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Game Preview/Lines #35: What Does Boughner Want From Inconsistent Meier?

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San Jose Sharks (14-16-4)

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Kirill Kaprizov — Victor Rask — Mats Zuccarello

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Morning Skate

Timo Meier is mired in an eight-game goalless slump. He has just six goals on the season — that’s just 15 goals over an 82-game pace.

On Mar. 26, San Jose Hockey Now noted that while Meier was shooting as much as ever at 5-on-5, his attempts weren’t coming from as dangerous a place.

These stats are from Natural Stat Trick: “Timo Meier is shooting as much as ever – his 20.08 Individual Shot Attempts Per 60 at 5-on-5 is fourth in the NHL, behind Brendan Gallagher, David Pastrnak, and Alex Ovechkin. Interestingly, however, his 3.78 Individual High-Danger Corsi For Per 60 at 5-on-5 is a sharp drop from his customary number – from 2017-20, he averaged 5.59 iHDCF. Does Meier need to take the puck to the net more?”

San Jose Sharks head coach Bob Boughner confirmed the diagnosis today: “It’s easy as a forward to get a puck, sling it toward the net, and get a shot from the outside. But [he’s got] to actually get inside, use that big body of his and protect parks and be around the net when the rebounds, the second and third chances come.

“That’s really just stopping your feet in the scoring areas and not swinging through and attacking outside with your speed. It’s real hard to play against when as a big guy, a powerful guy and strong, if he uses that strength, he gets to the net, and he busts to the net. But if you’re going to pull up every time and cut to the middle, then it’s easy to play against.

“You take pucks to the net, you spend time around the blue paint, you pay the price, you’re in front of the goalie, when we’re playing low to high, and you’re in a position to get seconds and thirds — you’re not going to get that if you’re moving your feet and you’re climbing the wall and you’re on the outside, you’re on the perimeter all the time.

“When you get the puck in the corner, it’s not about just throwing it away or slinging it to the net right away. It’s about drawing coverage to you, interchanging and getting on the cycle, beating your check [to the net]. All those things we talked about, those are the things that got to happen more often.”

That’s one area of concentration for the Swiss winger. The other is improving his play on the defensive side of the puck and adding some penalty killing responsibilities.

SJHN, hat tip to contributor Erik Fowle for the idea, asked Boughner what Meier had to do to attain 20-minute-a-night usage a la Evander Kane. Meier sits right now at 16:00 TOI Per Game (14:10 EV TOI/1:42 PP TOI/0:08 SH TOI), while Kane leads San Jose Sharks forwards with 19:49 (15:44/2:36/1:28).

Boughner explained: “The difference in the minutes is penalty kill. He’s not penalty killing for us and it’s something that we wanted to introduce him to into his game. We do have plans to do that.

“But your 5-on-5 game has got to be detailed. That’s the difference right now [too].

“Certain guys have a sense for [the PK] and certain guys gotta work at it. And we want to work with Timo on it. He has seen a little bit here and there, not a lot, some clean-up minutes at the end of some penalty kills.

“But I think if he wants to be a 20-minute player, it’s the details, being a 200-foot player and being responsible on his own end. He’s getting better at it.

“I still consider Timo pretty young, he’s working at that part of his game. We spend a lot of time on shift tape, a lot of time on the details.”

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Alaskan_ice

It’s Timo Time to go hard to the net.

[…] It’s not just about the production either. Bob Boughner is repeating last year’s criticisms of Meier this season. […]

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