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Preview/Lines #72: Boughner Sees Bright Side of Couture/Karlsson Tiff

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Credit: San Jose Sharks

With as high-pressure a league as the NHL is, it’s no wonder that sometimes tempers flare on the bench. 

Even if you didn’t catch the San Jose Sharks’ latest tilt against the Vancouver Canucks, a 4-2 loss, you’ve probably still seen this video circulating on social media, of Logan Couture and Erik Karlsson exchanging words on the bench. 

The ire came from a misplay in the final seconds of the third period. Couture, thinking there was ample time on the clock, fired the puck down to gain some time and space to reset. Instead, it ran down the clock instead of allowing the Sharks the last few seconds to try to equalize the score and earn at least one point in overtime.

If you’re worried that this is an indication that the Sharks’ locker room is falling apart, don’t be – little bench fights about miscues are business as usual for all NHL teams, the Sharks included. They’re just not often caught on camera. 

Couture gave more insight into the perceived quarrel. 

“It wasn’t [just] Erik. It was Timo and Burnzie…They were just asking why I rimmed it [before empty netter] and I said I didn’t know how much time [was] on the clock. I thought there were 15 seconds left. But they told me that there was one second.”

“I didn’t know, I just said next time can you yell at me? Let me know. I was trying to block the shot. 

“That happens, conversations. Guys get frustrated during games. That’s it. We lost. No one’s gonna be smiling and happy. The game ends, we flush it. Go back and have dinner tonight. Probably forget about it.

“[The camera] could get guys yelling at each other throughout the night. If you got to any NHL bench, guys are gonna be upset for quick spurts at each other. But you get over it pretty quickly. You need a thick skin to play in this league.” 

Head coach Bob Boughner offered his own perspective on the caught-on-camera moment, adding to Couture’s complaint: “I think obviously the puck got thrown down the ice. Carly didn’t come back. He stayed at the far blueline.”

At the beginning of the video, you can see Karlsson stationary at the far blueline, perhaps awaiting a pass up for one last desperate heave at the net. Karlsson races back at the end to try to get to Couture’s rim, but he’s too late.

“I think that pissed Cooch off a bit,” Boughner noted. “It’s good. I’m glad they get in each other’s faces and it should happen that way. I’d be skeptical if it didn’t.” 

In the midst of a six-game losing streak, Boughner is glad that the San Jose Sharks are still playing with pride and emotion.

“When guys get on each other, or there’s emotion, or guys are trying to hold each other accountable, especially your captain, it shows that these guys are as pissed off as anybody else and they don’t like losing, and they’re sick of it.”

“They’re trying to find a way to get out of it. We all are. And that’s emotions boiling over and that’s a good thing from a coaching standpoint, and you wish you had more of it. I really do. I think that’s a tool, [and] watching guys compete in practice today was a good, positive sign of how hard guys are going. You know, I like it.” 

In other words? It’s better to have a fiery bench who’s tired of losing over small mistakes and miscommunication, rather than a team that’s given up and already mentally checked out for the summer. 

San Jose Sharks (29-33-9)

Nashville Predators (41-26-5)

This is how NHL.com thinks the Preds will line up:

Filip Forsberg — Ryan Johansen — Philip Tomasino
Eeli Tolvanen — Mikael Granlund — Matt Duchene
Yakov Trenin — Colton Sissons — Tanner Jeannot
Nick Cousins — Luke Kunin — Matt Luff

Roman Josi — Dante Fabbro
Mattias Ekholm — Alexandre Carrier
Mark Borowiecki — Jeremy Lauzon

Juuse Saros

Where to watch

Puck drop between the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks is at 5:00 PM PT/8:00 PM ET at Bridgestone Arena. Watch it live on ESPN+, Bally Sports South and NBC Sports California. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.

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