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Game Preview/Lines #8: Boughner Has Pointed Words for Hertl & Kane

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In tonight’s preview, Bob Boughner has pointed words for Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane in advance of tonight’s re-match with the Colorado Avalanche. Kane shared his thoughts about his recent performance too.

Boughner also touched on how Matt Nieto has grown as a player since Boughner was a San Jose Sharks assistant coach and Nieto was a third-year player in 2015-16.

Sasha Chmelevski makes his NHL debut.

Finally, just how bad have the Sharks been with Offensive Zone Possession Time?

San Jose Sharks (3-4-0)

UPDATE: Per the San Jose Sharks, “Due to a roster issue with the taxi squad, Marcus Sorensen will play in tonight’s game in place of Sasha Chmelevski.”

Colorado Avalanche (4-3-0)

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(H/T @ADater…check out Adrian’s work at Colorado Hockey Now!)

Where to Watch

Puck drop is 6 PM PT at the Ball Center. Watch it on NBC Sports Bay Area, Altitude Sports, or NHL.tv.

Morning Skate

Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane have been tied to the hip this season. But besides a spectacular season opener — Hertl and Kane each notched three points — the duo have been mostly quiet.

Bob Boughner has noticed: “I demand better hockey from them. It’s in all aspects. They gotta play a lot heavier in the offensive zone. Spend time in the offensive zone. Be hard to play against. I didn’t think they were hard to play against at all last game. When I say that, I mean protecting pucks. Bringing pucks to the net.”

We’ll get to how little time that Hertl and Kane are spending in the offensive zone shortly. In terms of bringing pucks to the net, Hertl and Kane are also off to statistically slow shooting starts.

Kane is usually one of his team’s most prolific shooters. From 2017-20, Kane was second only to Timo Meier (18.41) among San Jose Sharks forwards with 18.24 Shot Attempts Per 60 at 5-on-5. That figure, admittedly in a small sample size this season, has dropped to 11.91, eighth among San Jose forwards.

Meanwhile, Hertl is more of a playmaker, but he’s trying an alarmingly low number of attempts too: The centerman’s 12.81 Shot Attempts Per 60 at 5-on-5 from 2017-20 has shrunk to 6.64.

“It’s tough when we’re spending a lot of time in your own end. You don’t get a lot of o-zone time. Probably not going to get a lot of opportunities to shoot,” Kane explained. “But definitely want to shoot the puck more, if you don’t shoot, you can’t score.”

Hertl and Kane will get another chance together tonight, this time with Timo Meier riding shotgun.

Boughner also added that Kane did leave the last game with a minor injury — the winger missed the last seven minutes of the opening frame: “Kaner left the game for a bit, came back, got fixed up in the trainer’s room. He wasn’t 100 percent last game. But there’s no excuse. That line has to be better.”

On the other hand, Boughner has liked, albeit with lesser expectations, Matt Nieto’s reliability. Boughner last saw the off-season UFA signing in San Jose in 2015-16 when he was a Sharks assistant coach.

“You know what you’re getting from him every night, which is great for a coach. You know he’s going to go over and play high-tempo. He’s going to dictate the speed. He’s going to make his linemates better. I love how he owns the penalty kill, that’s his baby. I think his offensive game is better now than it was when he left,” Boughner indicated.

“He’s been a great veteran for us. He’s bigger and stronger than when he left. And he’s just a low-maintenance guy. He’s going to practice hard, you know he’s going to play hard, and he’s a detailed player. Those are the kinds of players that players love to coach.”

And finally, Sasha Chmelevski, San Jose’s 2017 sixth-round pick, will make his NHL debut tonight, centering Patrick Marleau and Stefan Noesen.

UPDATE: Per the San Jose Sharks, “Due to a roster issue with the taxi squad, Marcus Sorensen will play in tonight’s game in place of Sasha Chmelevski.”

SPORTLOGiQ Pre-Game Stat of the Night

Boughner and Kane talked about not spending enough time in the offensive zone.

According to SPORTLOGiQ, the San Jose Sharks are 29th in the NHL at 4:36 Even Strength Offensive Zone Possession Time — Colorado, by the way, tops the league at 6:54.

Related specifically to Hertl and Kane, per Natural Stat Trick: Kane is ninth among Sharks forwards (of 13 qualified, 25+ 5-on-5 minutes) at -5.17 Corsi For % Relative and Hertl is dead-last at -10.97.

Here’s another SPORTLOGiQ measure, this time in All Situations: On opening night against Arizona, Hertl was second on the team at 00:40 OZ Possession Time. The following contest, Kane was second at 00:35. That’s about to be expected.

But in the last five games, only Kane has a registered a top-three team finish in this category: He was third on the Sharks with 00:37 on Jan. 22 at Minnesota.

Hertl and Kane will need to put the Sharks on their back if they mean to overpower the smaller Avs’ defense.

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Alaskan_ice

Glad Sasha finally gets to pull on the NHL sweater.
Good on Boughner for calling both Hertl and Kane. They need to lead. They are both very effective and I’m looking for a good response. The days of Jumbo and Pavs have passed.

Go Sharks!!

[…] San Jose Sharks bench boss Bob Boughner had pointed words for his best players, Evander Kane and Tomas Hertl, on Thursday (San Jose  Hockey Now) […]

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