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Game Preview/Lines #11: Scout Says Hertl Has Long Way to Go, Marleau on Tom Brady’s Success

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Credit: jiazi (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The San Jose Sharks are out of last place!

And what better way to stay out of the basement than back-to-back games against the current cellar-dweller?

Of course, it’s a thin line between San Jose and Los Angeles right now: Just a single point separates them.

Dylan Gambrell and Radim Simek helped the Sharks out of last place this past weekend: Bob Boughner talked about their surging games.

An NHL scout who viewed San Jose’s last tilt shares his thoughts about Tomas Hertl.

41-year-old Patrick Marleau tells us what he takes, as a fellow 40-plus athlete, from 43-year-old Tom Brady. Boughner also reviews the veteran’s campaign so far.

And hear what Erik Karlsson thinks is wrong with the Sharks’ power play, now on a 1-for-27 bender.

San Jose Sharks (4-5-1)

Los Angeles Kings (3-6-2)

Where to Watch

Puck drop is 7:00 PM PT at Staples Center. Watch it on NBC Sports Bay Area, Fox Sports West, or NHL.tv.

Morning Skate

Which San Jose Sharks forward, in two tight weekend games at Anaheim, played the most third period shifts?

It wasn’t Logan Couture. It certainly wasn’t Tomas Hertl.

It was Dylan Gambrell. Here’s the final third period shift count from Anaheim: Gambrell 19, Couture 18, Kane 16, Labanc 15, Nieto 14, Hertl/Marleau/Meier/Sorensen 13, Donato 11, Gregor 10, Balcers 4, Chmelevski 1.

Boughner believes that the 24-year-old Gambrell may have attained that much-discussed “consistency” every coach wants from a young player: “It’s one thing we’ve preached to him. He’s turning into a pretty good two-way center. He’s playing with some confidence. He’s dependable.”

Gambrell’s not playing sheltered minutes either.

“A lot of his shifts are starting with draws in the d-zone,” Boughner pointed out. “Whether it’s on his own line or I put him out for a draw. He’s our guy who’s going to be taking draws on the right dot.”

Gambrell is dispelling the notion that he doesn’t belong in the NHL. Question is, what’s his offensive ceiling? He has just one assist in seven contests this year.

Boughner believes it’s coming: “I think, slowly but surely, the offense part of his game is going to come. Just from his ice time, playing the right way.”

Someone else who’s been playing the right way?

Radim Simek also saw his playing time increase this past weekend, capped off with a season-high 17:57 on Saturday, paired mostly with Karlsson. It’s been a long way back to his pre-2019 knee surgery form, but both Simek and Boughner think he’s close. Simek discussed this yesterday; Boughner today.

“It’s definitely helped us on the back-end, to have the old Simmer back,” Boughner said. “That’s reflective of his minutes that have gone up, his responsibilities have gone up. What I like about him is he’s one of the guys back there that ends plays quickly. He’s physical down low. We need more of that. As his body’s feeling better, his compete is going up, his confidence is going up.”

The San Jose Sharks could also use the old Tomas Hertl back.

We saw signs of it on Saturday: Patience with the puck, a couple bull rushes to the net. Boughner agreed: “I thought Hertl had his best game in the last little while.”

However, underscoring how far Hertl still has to go to regain his A-game, an NHL scout said of his effort: “Hertl looked like he was pulling a train. He looked like he had no legs.”

Speaking of legs, Patrick Marleau looks like he might be gaining his after a slow start this year.

Boughner believes so: “His last game was his best game in a while.

“He’s learning to, at this point in his career, to be able to still produce offensively. I think he’s frustrated with that part of his game. But he’s doing a lot of great things away from the puck.

“All in all, I think Patty’s season has been good. It won’t show up statistically. But he’s a responsible guy, a great leader, a mentor to a lot of the young guys.”

Speaking of great leaders, what does the 41-year-old Marleau take from recent Super Bowl champion Tom Brady?

“He’s easy to look at, see all the great success, the reasons why he’s had it,” Marleau said. “The focus he has, the attention to detail he has, his mental game is obviously off the charts. Seeing those things in him, how successful they are, you can’t help but try and replicate that yourself.”

It’s hard to believe that Brady is actually two years older than Marleau. Marleau is set to pass Jaromir Jagr for third in all-time games played tonight.

SPORTLOGiQ Pre-Game Stat of the Night

So what does Erik Karlsson think is wrong with the San Jose Sharks’ power play?

“I don’t think we’ve had very much possession,” Karlsson noted. “I think that’s the number-one thing. We need to find a way to control the puck a little bit more. Even if that’s not going to generate as many shots.

“If we could find ways to create more momentum on the power play, it’ll help us on the 5-on-5. Help the bench. Help our top guns to feel a bit better about themselves.”

I pointed this out last week, but it’s a stat worth repeating. Per SPORTLOGiQ, San Jose is 26th in the NHL with a 61.2 PP OZ Time %.

That’s the percentage of time that they spend on the power play in the offensive zone, a far cry from the Rangers’ league-leading 71.6.

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