Jonathan Dahlen saved his best for last.
In the San Jose Sharks’ final preseason contest, Dahlen enjoyed arguably his finest performance, notching a goal in a 4-0 shutout victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. He also fired five shots, tying for the team lead with Brent Burns. That was more than the four shots taken in his first three exhibition games combined.
“This was my most comfortable game out there,” Dahlen said. “I think I played pretty well all the games, but I added some offense today and got some good passes and was more involved.”
I finally saw a player anticipating the play and not just reacting, which isn’t necessarily what I’ve seen for most of the preseason.
So maybe Dahlen is getting better at just the right time? The San Jose Sharks sure hope so: The way their opening night roster is shaping up, they’ll be counting on a pair of rookies, Dahlen and William Eklund, to be top-nine worthy.
It’s a tall order, but Bob Boughner has hope in Dahlen: “He’s made a great case for himself.
“His game for me is more suited towards the North American style. I think he’s better in tight areas.”
The Sharks hope that translates quickly to the NHL level, as soon as next week.
Eklund “Great Again”
At this rate, William Eklund won’t be staying at a hotel much longer. Those have been his digs through training camp, as he awaits his fate.
But after another standout performance, his immediate fate is clear: I believe the 18-year-old will start the season with San Jose Sharks. The team has been better with him, so if they want to win, they’ll give him a chance.
Boughner: "Eklund was great again tonight."
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) October 10, 2021
Last night, Eklund notched his first preseason goal, adding to his team-leading six points.
“Not just the goal, but I thought he did a lot of great things,” Boughner offered. “He’s a heads-up guy. Very, very rarely do you ever see him looking down.”
This was my favorite Eklund play last night – and yup, it wasn’t the goal:
Santeri Hatakka (61) hits William Eklund (72) with a stretch pass. Problem is, Eklund is flat-footed with 6-foot-6 Nic Hague (14) closing in. But the teen, as he has been the entire preseason, is a step ahead: Instead of putting his head down and getting stuffed by Hague or trying to dump it in, he turns his body to protect the puck and dumps it off to Tomas Hertl (48) coming with speed from behind. In the process, Eklund shields Hertl from Hague, setting a legal pick, and giving his centerman safe passage. All this leads to a good Rudolfs Balcers chance.
This is the definition of heads up.
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