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What’s Boughner Done Right?

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Credit: NBCS Bay Area

Colorado almost doubled up the San Jose Sharks at 5-on-5 shot attempts last night, 66-35.

But did the Sharks have the Avalanche right where they wanted them?

Most of Colorado’s shot attempts were from the perimeter. In fact, per Natural Stat Trick, San Jose actually enjoyed an 11-9 High-Danger edge in their 3-2 victory. That’s all part of the plan, according to Bob Boughner.

“There’s things that we’re doing off of entries, things we’re doing down low, using the back of the net, and activating our D,” Boughner said. “It’s coming. It’s tough to see it in the standings.”

It’s tough to see in the standings – the Sharks are seventh in the West and will miss the post-season once again – but there is proof that Boughner’s offensive philosophy is working.

If you’re a regular reader of this space, you’ve probably seen these stats before: Per Natural Stat Trick, San Jose is fourth in the NHL in High-Danger (Chances For) Per 60 at 5-on-5. In conjunction, they’re fifth in the league in Expected Goals Per 60.

For what it’s worth, eight of the top-10 High-Danger teams are playoff-bound, except the Sharks and the Devils. Eight of the top-10 Expected Goals squads are playing on after next week, except San Jose and Ottawa.

Essentially, the San Jose Sharks are earning lots of high-quality offensive looks, looks that usually lead to success. And that’s a testament to a coaching staff which has emphasized shooting from high-danger areas like the slot, as opposed to firing it from the point, which was a staple of the Peter DeBoer era.

The Sharks, per SPORTLOGiQ, are sixth in the NHL in Inner Slot Shots and 13th in Slot Shots at Even Strength – under DeBoer last season, they were 30th in Slot Shots.

Why are these inner slot shots important?

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Basically, San Jose is getting a lot more chances from where more goals are being scored these days. The reverse has happened at the blueline:

In contrast, in 2018-19, under DeBoer, San Jose’s defensemen attempted 39.6 percent of the team’s 5-on-5 shots — good for second in the league.

How Boughner Used Burns Differently & What That Means Next Year

So we can give credit where it’s due: For the most part, the Sharks have carried out Boughner’s offensive plan going into this season. They are noticeably more dangerous at 5-on-5 than they were last year. The bench boss has transformed San Jose’s attack philosophy, even if the actual goals aren’t quite there yet – ultimately, they’re just 15th in the NHL in Goals Per 60 at 5-on-5.

So obviously, not everything Boughner and company have touched is gold — but we’ll get to all that soon enough.

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