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Quick Thoughts: Sharks Need Hill to Take Control



AP Photo/Josie Lepe

Can Adin Hill take control of the San Jose Sharks’ net?

The Sharks sure hope so – but Hill sure didn’t last night in a 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues.

To his credit, Hill owned up for allowing this long Brandon Saad goal. But that’s how you lose a point, as the Blues’ fifth goal was an empty netter.

“He was okay,” acting head coach John MacLean said of Hill, “but okay didn’t get us two points tonight.”

Or one.

Big picture, we’re just 10 games into the season: There’s plenty of time for Hill to turn around his sub-.900 Save %. But also big picture: It’s imperative that he does, as battery mate James Reimer’s current .950 Save % obviously won’t last.

No knock on Reimer, but it’s been almost a decade since he was a true No. 1. That was 2012-13, when he played 33 of 48 games in a lockout-shortened season for Toronto. Otherwise, he’s been a platoon guy at best – a very good one, mind you – with a career-high of 44 games in a season.

The San Jose Sharks didn’t spend a second-round pick on Hill for him to back up Reimer, that’s for sure.

An Example of Inexperience

There was some consternation about the rebound that Hill allowed on the James Neal game-winner, but it looked like Neal might have got a touch on the puck as it
was coming in from the point.

Also, the main problem on the goal was that Neal got a second, unchecked whack at it – between Jasper Weatherby (26) and Jonah Gadjovich (42), one of the San Jose Sharks forwards needed to stay with Neal. Instead, both pursued the opposite point.

There could be an element of inexperience here – coming into this season, Weatherby and Gadjovich had one NHL game between them. A Matt Nieto or an Andrew Cogliano would’ve been more likely to recognize the situation and execute a defensive switch with Weatherby, center covers the point, winger takes the man in front.

To Weatherby’s credit, it was one of his stronger overall games this season. He won plenty of puck battles against veteran Blues like David Perron and Marco Scandella, and his line actually created consistent offense and forecheck pressure.

He also won nine of 12 faceoffs, improving to 55.7 % on the season. That leads all NHL rookies.

Make no mistake, that’s one reason why Dylan Gambrell – 43.8 % last season – is in Ottawa.

“It’s not easy to come from college to the NHL,” Logan Couture said of Jasper Weatherby. “But he’s done a great job, especially in the center position, very difficult when you got to take faceoffs every night against men. He’s got that build though. He’s a big guy, he’s strong, can play that strong down-low game.”

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