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Game Preview/Lines #6: Boughner Says Vlasic Has “Another Level”, Inside PK’s Success

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Credit: Ken Lund (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Dylan Gambrell impressed on Friday night, can he turn in a repeat performance for the San Jose Sharks?

All eyes will be on Gambrell, who’s playing with Timo Meier tonight — but watch Marc-Edouard Vlasic carefully too.

The defensive stalwart is off to a slow start this season, and Bob Boughner addressed that yesterday.

Also, San Jose is quietly off to a strong penalty-killing start, we get inside that in the SPORTLOGiQ Pre-Game Stat of the Night.

San Jose Sharks (2-3-0)

Minnesota Wild (4-1-0)

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WHERE TO WATCH

Puck drop is 5 PM PT at Xcel Energy Center. Watch it on NBC Sports Bay Area, FOX Sports North, or NHL.tv.

Morning Skate

Five games into the season, Erik Karlsson talk has dominated San Jose Sharks coverage. But what about his partner Vlasic?

Like Karlsson, Vlasic was guilty of a slow start, not surprising after a 10-month layoff.

“I think it’s getting better,” Boughner admitted. “But there’s still another level.”

What exactly is Boughner looking for?

“I’d like to see a little more aggressiveness down low, jumping the check and ending more plays. That’s the key to the system we’re playing. Boston plays a similar style, Islanders play a similar style,” Boughner offered.

“It’s the fine line of not giving up high-danger scoring chances, but you may give up the outside of the ice a little more. Spend a little more time in your end.

“When you get the chance to trigger and when you get a chance on a 50-50 puck, that’s your trigger where you gotta end plays. We can end plays a little better. I’ve been talking to Pickles about that, about spending less time in your end by ending more plays.”

Personally, I think the question with Vlasic is does he still have the feet, on a consistent basis, to “trigger” when that split-second opportunity presents itself? The defensive smarts are still there and he’s tough to beat one-on-one, but can the 33-year-old get to where he needs to on time?

SPORTLOGiQ Pre-Game Stat of the Night

Quietly, the San Jose Sharks have risen to sixth in the NHL with an 88.9 Penalty Kill %.

We’re just five games in, but it’s not a surprise: The Sharks were the best PK in the league last year.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

“Structurally, we’re pretty much the same as we were last year,” Boughner shared. “We’re aggressive. This time of year especially, you can be a little bit of a headache being really aggressive.”

That aggressiveness in thr defensive zone is reflected in San Jose’s 13.1 Short-Handed DZ True Takeaway %, good for seventh in the league, according to SPORTLOGiQ.

“It’s how often a team takes the puck from their opponent relative to how often their opponent has the puck on their stick,” per SPORTLOGiQ. “So, if the opponent possesses the puck 10 times in the OZ and San Jose takes it from them once, the Sharks would have a takeaway rate of 10%.”

This 13.1 figure is in line with last year’s 12.7, which was good for third in the NHL:

Inside the Sharks PK: The Secrets to Their Success

“I love the structure of our penalty kill,” newcomer Matt Nieto said, “it’s a very aggressive penalty kill.”

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