The San Jose Sharks need more heroes.
On Friday, down 3-1 entering the third period at Anaheim, it was the one-two punch of Logan Couture and Evander Kane that got the Sharks back into game. San Jose was eventually able to pull out a 5-4 shootout victory.
Tonight, Devan Dubnyk turned back 32 of 33 shots, include seven on a single penalty kill, but the rest of the team let him down in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Ducks.
“[Dubnyk] was huge. He played unreal, to bring us all the way to shootout,” Mario Ferraro offered. “I really wish we could’ve pulled through with a win. But it’s coming.”
Will it come with Dubnyk as the team’s undisputed starter?
Let Doobie Roll
There’s no doubt that Devan Dubnyk outperformed Martin Jones this weekend.
While Jones’s perseverance earned him a win on Friday, it was far from a consistent effort.
“I thought there was a couple just okay goals against on him,” Boughner admitted. “But you gotta give him credit: He stayed focused and got through it. Jonesie came up big in the shootout.”
The praise for Dubnyk was unreserved on Saturday.
“He was excellent tonight,” Boughner gushed. “Especially on that first power play, the first period. I thought we got cheating a little bit, looking for offense. We gave up three seam plays; he came up big on each one.”
SEVEN saves by Dubnyk on that PK
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) February 7, 2021
Even Dubnyk had to laugh about that: “It was funny. We scored so quickly, I was like, this is nice. Then a minute later, we were on the PK. It’s not too often you’re going to see seven shots that quick on a PK.”
Per Evolving-Hockey, it was also the best San Jose Sharks goaltending performance this year: Dubnyk’s +2.25 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx) tonight topped even Jones’s bravura +1.82 season-opener. Jones was rewarded with the next start after that effort; Dubnyk deserves to be treated in kind.
Especially in a shortened season, your goaltender getting on a roll or two could mean the difference between the playoffs and the lottery.
There’s been nary a smile between Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier in their media availabilities over the last couple of days, and who could blame the linemates?
For Meier, it’s now eight games and counting without a goal. His frustration was palpable after hitting a third period crossbar.
“Obviously, getting close,” Meier said. “It was a pretty good shot, just missed it by a little bit.”
For Hertl, it’s also eight games and counting without a goal. And his frustration was also palpable after hitting a third period crossbar on Friday.
To their credit, both delivered much-better efforts on Saturday, a solid response after each played just five shifts in the third period on Friday.
“I thought we played a pretty decent game,” Meier, who led the Sharks with six scoring chances at 5-on-5 per Natural Stat Trick, said. No other San Jose player had more than two.
Meanwhile, Boughner downplayed the suggestion that Hertl might not be fully recovered from his January knee surgery: “He’s healthy. I thought he played a lot better tonight. He had more possession. Protecting the puck down low. I thought he skated better tonight.
“It’s slowly coming. I thought tonight was a good sign.”
Given the chance to sing the praises of the embattled Marc-Edouard Vlasic – not to mention Erik Karlsson, Radim Simek, and Nikolai Knyzhov – Boughner, when asked about his new pairings, simply opined, “They all held their own. It was a bit of a sloppy game.”
Suffice to say, holding his own is what you pay the rookie Knyzhov to do, not Karlsson.
This isn’t a complete condemnation of Karlsson; he still demonstrates flashes that leave you wanting more. I can’t say that about Vlasic this year.
Here’s an example: After a very quiet game, Karlsson leads this late rush. This effort results in a Matt Nieto tip and a Knyzhov pass that deflects off a Duck, both almost past Ryan Miller.
But it just hasn’t been there on a game-to-game, shift-to-shift basis for Karlsson this year. This exchange with former Carolina Hurricanes analytics consultant Corey Sznajder captures some of this:
Karlsson still leaves you wanting more because there’s clearly something still there to want. That’s the good news.
But fact is, right now, the San Jose Sharks want, need more from him, and he isn’t delivering on a consistent basis.
Will he? Can he? Right now, these are still as much questions as they were on the first day of training camp.
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