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Preseason Notes #2: Kings Crown Sharks 4-3

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Period One

First PP: Eklund playing flank with Blichfeld, both on their one-timer sides. We know Blichfeld has a legit one-timer, curious about Eklund’s. Eklund makes a nice pass to the front to Weatherby or Hertl, appears to look one way, then pass it to the front. Karlsson also on this unit.

For what it’s worth, grain of salt, preseason yada yada but Karlsson has looked spry. Appears to be moving well.

Nine in: Another solid Eklund shift, he has KHL vet Tkachev draped all over him. Eklund manages to drop it off to open teammate along wall. Eklund, consistently, seems to make a right next play — not always the flashiest, but effective.

Next Eklund shift: Swear I’m not watching only him — Merkley hits Eklund jumping off, pinpoint diagonal pass, blueline to blueline. Eklund and Hertl has a two-on-one, Eklund fires it, rebound, puck just escapes an easy Hertl putback. That’s a San Jose Sharks fan’s dream — Merkley to Eklund to Hertl.

Meier goal: Looks like Dahlen tied up maybe Roy behind LA net so Couture could retrieve it, get it to Merkley at the point. Seeing a little more from Dahlen tonight, little plays in the offensive end. Strong stick so far, winning or tying puck battles.

Five left: Just so you know I’m not a Eklund fanboy. Soft wall-to-center lane pass in DZ from Eklund, trying to hit probably Hertl, promptly scooped up by LA for dangerous zone time. That’s staple-yourself-to-the-bench material in the NHL.

Four left: Good work by Weatherby to win puck along wall, get it back to the point. However, tonight is tough to judge him because of LA’s (literally) weak line-up. He should be stronger than most of the Kings. But credit to him: He’s passed every test so far. He’s strong, smart, and moves better than maybe expected. Could benefit from some AHL seasoning? But he should be in NHL sooner than later, if not right out of camp.

Period Two

Karlsson starts out on PK, taking I presume Burns’s spot — Burns in box — wonder if Karlsson will kill regularly this year? When he got pulled off it last year, it was a sign that the San Jose Sharks recognized, were admitting his game wasn’t up to par. Prior to last year, Karlsson had been a regular PK’er.

Balcers also getting a look on the PK with Bonino. Bonino, we know for sure, will be a featured killer. How about Balcers?

Off the draw, looks like that Spence point shot beats Reimer clean.

Seven in, Dahlen bodied off by Roy in puck race to corner. Just one battle, but Roy is one of the few NHL-caliber players that LA is using tonight.

Blichfeld is a sleeper prospect these days, his stride looks improved.

Nine in: Hatakka rotates, swoops in for a good chance — he’s escaped out of zone with puck by himself a couple times, which must be a nice change of pace for Karlsson, who’s used to doing heavy lifting to get puck out of zone. The Finn can skate, for sure. Also that Hatakka chance is courtesy — Eklund. Need to break down more tape, but it’s not first time I’ve seen Eklund come up with puck on forecheck, one on one, he’s got a quick stick and feet. Anyway, Eklund’s work creates the San Jose cycle which springs Hatakka.

Just a note if it becomes something: Six minutes left, Ferraro has been trying to shake off a shot block for a minute. Should be fine — no trainer around.

Five left: Pretty Blichfeld-Karlsson-Eklund passing sequence up top. Eklund looks very comfortable on the PP. Of course, league will adjust to him.

Wagner SH breakaway — he’s Connor McDavid without the hands.

Sharks have been using Weatherby as the drop pass option on PP breakout — the guy that a Karlsson will drop to. Usually, that’s a guy with a lot of speed or a smart, savvy puck carrier — Hertl is often used in that way by PP. That’s an interesting experiment there — wonder if that will last into regular season.

Of course, Wagner comes back with a four-on-four goal.

Period Three

Hertl has some space on the backhand on rush, but no dice. Wonder how many backhand goals that Hertl has scored over his career? Wonder if he can be more dangerous there?

Melnichuk doesn’t squeeze an off-angle shot, rebound drops in front of him, net crash by Andersson, 4-1.

Good screen by Weatherby and Hertl, Eklund controls the wall with authority, Burns fires it home on PP. Boughner said yesterday that the Sharks aren’t sure who they’ll put on flanks on PP — that’s another push for Eklund to break camp in San Jose.

Nine in, Hatakka up on rush with Karlsson. No dice, but another example of an NHL-caliber skater.

Gregor getting into it with Andersson, also got into it earlier with Doty. Gregor had a good rush chance off Blichfeld-led entry.

Getting chippy: Merkley able to skate himself out of trouble in DZ, Lizotte forecheck, but then knocked down by Roy on entry, loses puck. Then Merkley bounces off Wagner, trying to step up on Wagner.

Very Merkley shift, five left: Lizotte chasing him on forecheck, Merkley skating away, toward his own goal, just toying with Lizotte. Actually does a great job to create space for himself to make pass out of zone — but his pass is a soft shovel to the middle of the NZ, no San Jose Sharks player in the vicinity, turnover. Great skill mixed with what looks like a casualness.

Minute left, pretty Eklund spin-o-rama coming down wall, shakes the King covering him. That’s going to be an Eklund trademark.

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