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Game Preview/Lines #12: Boughner Wants Karlsson to Shoot More, Sharks’ Offensive Micro-Stats Improving

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Credit: mark6mauno (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The San Jose Sharks are looking for their first series sweep this season.

They’re going to have to do it led by Martin Jones. The Sharks announced today that Devan Dubnyk is out with a day-to-day injury. It’s unclear when Dubnyk got hurt; he was the back-up on Tuesday night.

In his place, Alexei Melnichuk was called up, along with John Leonard and Jake Middleton. Leonard will slide into the line-up for Rudolfs Balcers.

We didn’t get to ask Bob Boughner about Dubnyk this morning, but he touched on a variety of interesting topics regardless: Should Erik Karlsson shoot more? Where can Balcers and Ryan Donato improve? Why did he like Timo Meier’s effort last game? What does Kevin Labanc add to the top power play unit? And why is San Jose better at coming back from being down this year?

San Jose Sharks (5-5-1)

Los Angeles Kings (3-6-3)

(LA’s morning skate was optional, Matt Luff and Tobias Bjornfot also appear to be options)

Iafallo – Kopitar – Brown

Kempe – Vilardi – Carter

Grundstrom – Anderson-Dolan – Moore

Andersson – Amadio – Wagner

Anderson – Doughty

MacDermid – Clague

Maatta – Strand

Petersen

Quick

(H/T Zach Dooley)

WHERE TO WATCH

Puck drop is 7:00 PM PT at Staples Center. Watch it on NBC Sports Bay Area, Fox Sports West, or NHL.tv.

Morning Skate

Bob Boughner, on whether or not Erik Karlsson should shoot more:

Even the elite players, sometimes, simple is more. To overcomplicate things and have a shot lane and want to dust it off one more time, see what else is open…it shuts down quick in this league. We are stressing, not everything has to be pretty — that’s not our team.

Yes, he’s an elite player, he’s going to make some high-end plays once in a while, but we need to be a team that gets pucks to the net, playing below the tops of the circles, and then those kinds of options open up when we tire teams out, get some notion.

We are trying to work on that as a team, but especially with Karly.

Does Karlsson Need to Shoot More? That’s Not the Problem

Boughner, on Ryan Donato’s game:

Ryan’s game, his success comes from the tops of the circles down. I’ll like to see his 200-foot game improve. But he plays hard. He’s tenacious on pucks. He gets into battles. That’s when he’s at his best. When he’s outside the pile, like any other player, not at his best. But when he’s inside, playing with urgency and competing, he’s excellent around the net.

Boughner, on why he’s sitting Rudolfs Balcers:

I thought his game was okay. There’s more to offer. He’s just getting used to the system. He’s just getting acclimated here.

Boughner, on improvement he’s seen from Timo Meier and Evander Kane:

I thought that was [Meier’s] best game of these season. I thought he was a beast out there. He was controlling the play; he was moving his feet. Especially physical on the forecheck.

I thought at times, through the first 8-10 games, [Meier and Kane] both weren’t necessarily hard to play against.

Boughner, on what he likes about Kevin Labanc on the top power play unit:

The one thing that I noticed last game, and Kevin is one of the guys who did this, when there was a 50-50 puck, we battled hard to get it back. We moved the puck quicker and we had a lot of possession time. That’s the start of having a successful power play. Now we need to capitalize on our chances.

Kevin has some great patience there, I just want to make sure that he still feels that he has to be a threat to shoot, not always look to pass.

Boughner, on San Jose Sharks coming back twice from third period deficits during this road trip, matching the total number of third period comebacks all of last year:

Good teams, they’ll find a way to win.

We learned some lessons last year. How we handle adversity.

I sense a good chemistry in the room. A good leadership group. Guys are playing hard for each other. Sticking up for each other in battles.

We talked about culture in training camp. Re-establishing that culture. Those things go hand in hand with the compete we see here on the ice in certain situations.

(San Jose Hockey Now note: On Friday, the Sharks came back from a two-goal third period deficit against Anaheim. The last time they came back from a two goals or more deficit in the third period and won the game? If you can believe it, Game Seven against the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2019 playoffs.)

SPORTLOGiQ Pre-Game Stat of the Night

The San Jose Sharks have done a lot of good things offensively at 5-on-5 on this Southern California swing. SPORTLOGiQ has identified three key areas where they’ve improved their scoring chance generation, from Feb. 4 to now:

  • 26th (5.33 Per 60) to 10th (6.73) in Even Strength Inner Slot Shots on Net
  • 26th (5.95) to 16th (7.18) in ES Shot Attempts from Slot Off the Cycle
  • 16th (1.72) to 6th (2.24) in ES 2nd Chance (Rebound) Shot Attempts from Slot

Granted, it’s against weaker defensive corps, but the Sharks are doing a better job of getting inside and cycling the puck. They’ve probably deserved more 5-on-5 goals than they’ve actually scored during this road trip, a good sign for things to come.

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