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Notes #11: Devils Come Back on Sharks in Shootout 3-2



Period One

The San Jose Sharks will look to grind the Devils on the forecheck tonight:

Three in: Good job by Burns to read two-on-one incoming, assign Couture to center lane, Burns was aggressive on carrier coming down right lane, outnumbered attack snuffed out.

Eight in: R. Merkley with a nice steal in corner from Zacha. Insistent, gets the stick around bigger Zacha.

Next shift: Bonino on the wing? Makes sense, that’s what Minnesota did last year. But it’s a reflection of his diminishing effectiveness as a center, that foot speed. He may actually be a good wing — you can hide the foot speed there better — but it leaves a big hole in the line-up, Weatherby is not a 3C.

Severson penalty: Beauty Barabanov feed to Leonard in high slot, deflection on post. Was Barabanov’s re-emergence a tiny factor in San Jose being okay with letting Eklund return to Sweden? Don’t love that Merkley play later on PP — holding puck, waiting for another unit to come on, he snakes back — no problem — but then he tosses a tough pass for Couture, when Couture receives it, the PK’er is right on top of him. Not quite a suicide pass, but it’s a turnover pass.

Seven left: Couture pulls up, lets Subban pratfall going for the big hit.

Two posts for Leonard, I think. He can crank it. He’s the guy that I think you hope can take Eklund’s spot. Skill player, obviously a different type of skill, but there’s a little upside there. Like a N. Merkley, I like his game, but he doesn’t belong on an NHL third line. Leonard could, if he reaches his potential.

Period Two

And that’s not a good start for the San Jose Sharks: Nick Bonino goes to the box. Good block by Burns after the faceoff.

Balcers goal: Starts with a hard, accurate Burns stretch pass to Balcers. Then Balcers, nice vision, finds Ferraro on weak side. Devils forget Balcers, Ferraro gets him back in front. Good example of widening the attack, the importance of.

Five in: In traffic, Bonino finds Dahlen. Dahlen one-touches it to Weatherby in front by himself. Big Bernier save, but gorgeous puck movement all around.

Six in: Insistent R. Merkley defense on McLeod. Credit where credit is due. I was surprised there in a good way.

Seven in: Good little Hatakka pass springs three-on-two. Helped by clever Barabanov pick, Burns joining rush.

Eight in: Ugly Dahlen turnover. Can’t make that diagonal DZ exit pass unless you’re sure. That’s a turnover in the middle of the ice.

Just had a fun convo with a scout: Who’s dropped off hardest, Burns, Subban, or Karlsson. We both agreed on Subban. Burns, actually, might be better in some ways, more controlled. Subban looks nothing like who he was, we catch glimpses of prime EK65 and Burnzie from time to time.

And just as I was complimenting him, looks like Burns loses his man off the wall.

And just like that, after I thought a fairly solid defensive second, they lose another man, Graves walking down. That looks like Hertl’s assignment.

Period Three

Five in: Good chance off forecheck for the San Jose Sharks.

Seven in: Nice job by Leonard to draw that penalty. Patience with puck in pressure spot, Sharks needing a clear, he doesn’t rush it, gets tripped. That’s good work.

But Dahlen’s got to shoot that, all alone.

Eight in: Nice stretch by R. Merkley on PP, then he stays with Bratt one on one. I’ve actually…gasp…liked Merkley defensively tonight.

Nine left: Weatherby in good defensive position in the slot, intercepts centering pass.

Eight left: Leonard with the pass to Gadjovich, good stuff. He’s had himself a game.

Six left: That’s a penalty that Cogliano will want back.

R. Merkley had a couple chances to clear there — that’s tough. The worst one was the first one, can’t really blame him for the second time. But well before goal, had puck turning behind net, took a beat, forechecking McLeod right on him, turnover. You gotta feel the pressure, you can’t always make a play.


Hertl-Barabanov-Burns to start. Barabanov does a nice job protecting it from Bratt, though it goes nowhere.


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