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Eklund Hat Trick, Initial Thoughts on Graf, Cooley Gets First Win!

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Credit: Dean Tait/Hockey Shots

The San Jose Sharks welcome the St. Louis Blues to SAP Center.

In Collin Graf’s NHL debut, William Eklund scored a hat trick, and Sharks win 3-2!

Period 1

2 in: Nice little pass by Studnicka to Zadina down low for net front stuff. Then throws himself at Dean in DZ corner. Good 200-foot shift.

4 in: Graf tries a move on entry on Parayko, no dice. Welcome to the NHL! Then his low-to-high pass misses later in shift.

5 in: Bordeleau stays extra long on his shift because Blues attacking and Sturm needs help. Good decision.

7 in: Basic, but good diagonal NZ pass by Graf up to Ferraro, easy entry. Hopefully that’ll help shake off some nerves, connecting on a couple passes.

8 in: Like that behind the back, through the legs Bordeleau pass to Studnicka for a bad angle chance. Good work by both.

5 left: Good pick by Cooley. Holy shit Blues up 13-3 shots haha. I’m honestly only watching Graf and Studnicka’s lines very carefully this afternoon. Working on stuff you’ll like…or hate if you expect me to cheerlead Sharks prospects!

Early impression of Graf is he’s slight. He also tries defensively, pays attention, which is an obvious good thing. I expect some playmaking will come as he gets comfortable.

Don’t know what Addison said to the ref, granted, but that seems like an excessive punishment for a player unhappy with a marginal-looking penalty to begin with.

16-5 Blues shots, 3-1 Slot Shots, 1-0 High-Danger. So does fit a little of what I saw, Blues a bit perimeter. But obviously, you want to make up that shot difference.

Period 2

2 in: Younger Vlasic might have gotten to that loose puck in middle of slot on PK. Not a criticism, just a reality.

Thrun replaces Addison on PP. Great power play, highlighted by a Hofer glove on a Granlund to Bordeleau Grade-A.

6 in: Love how Eklund slips Faulk chasing him in PP corner. On PK, you chase puck carriers with back to you, and Faulk does his job there, but that’s Eklund’s gauntlet, Eklund leaves him behind.

Graf with Kostin, Zadina, Kunin, and MacDonald on San Jose Sharks’ PP2.

9 in: Nice Graf in-tight pass to Eklund down low, under pressure. That should be a strength of his. Offensively so far, I don’t think a Kevin Labanc comp is that crazy haha. Labanc is also slight, not a great skater, but at his best, plays fast and makes plays in small areas. Peak Labanc but better defensively is actually a very good player.

9 left: Like that Studnicka shift, harasses Walker, then finishes check on Kessel.

Right before the fight, I think there’s a learning moment for Graf. He gets the puck right at the line, Neighbours on him. To his credit, he slips Neighbours for entry but is cut off with ease by the defenseman, turnover, barely into OZ. At least for now, until he gets quick or strong enough to beat that d-man cutting him off, that should be a dump-in.

7 left: Kunin just busts up Neighbours, what a hit. Faulk comes in for the fight.  Tough area near boards, but that’s a good hit, I think.

Eklund goal: There’s a direct line to be drawn from Kunin hit to Faulk instigator penalty to this goal.

Eklund goal: One of the underrated reasons why the Sharks’ power play is much better over the last month is Bordeleau. Before the goal, along wall, pressure on him, he has the awareness to not hold the Thrun pass to him right when PK’er on him, quick no-look shovel to Granlund. Keeps possession. Then sticks with it as Kessel pushes him down in slot, gets a shot off, Eklund gets the garbage. I’d predict that however San Jose Sharks look like, roster-wise next year, that he, Eklund, and Granlund are on PP1. Otherwise, not sure. But they’re all crafty players who will also take contact to make a play, all guys who are at least above-average in connecting plays. Plus, Bordeleau is great on the draw.

1 left: Leddy rides Bordeleau into boards. So Bordeleau’s size will always be an issue. But I like that this defensive stop wasn’t a clear-cut turnover, Bordeleau able to hang, try to at least get it to I think Sturm. Then the puck is lost. But even hanging on in a likely-to-be-lost battle, prolonging the inevitable, that buys your team time to recover or get set defensively, that’s valuable. Slowly but surely, Bordeleau is becoming a player, and I mean that in a highly complimentary sense. He had kind of struggled a couple games ago, I think, but good to see him rally so far on home stand, at least this game and last in particular.

Period 3

Parayko 10-9 over Kostin, though I appreciate Kostin putting Parayko’s jersey over Parayko’s face, and trying to whale away haha. They were teammates with the Blues, both big boys. I would guess Parayko, in part, just trying to get the boys going. You definitely like Kostin playing with some snarl.

Kyrou goal: Picks a corner in traffic. Studnicka didn’t like it, but looked like a penalty. Pulling for Cooley to get his first win, and at home.

4 in: Bailey does a great job to escape pressure, come out of DZ corner with puck, but then a soft, chasing offense pass up, doesn’t clear the zone. That’s the stuff he’s gotta work on to stay in the NHL. Those are 100 percent plays you cannot mess up as a fourth-liner, whatever your physical gifts.

6 in: Cooley hesitates when he shouldn’t, but makes right decision in end to come out and play the puck.

8 in: Good high pressure by Graf on Leddy, forces turnover, then he advances puck to I guess Kunin. That’s good basic hockey.

9 left: Another post for Kunin, feel for him there. Leads Sharks in that category, I think. I think some people’s opinions of Luke would be different if he had just a couple more goals. On a good team, I like him on your third or fourth line, he’s a valuable utility tool player, who doesn’t take a shift off and tries to drag you into the fight. He’s just exposed, in part, by being a second-line center on a bad, bad team.

8 left: Two excellent chances, Kostin then Zetterlund, off of course, good Granlund passes. Be nice to see Granny get to 60 points.

7 left: Graf feels the pressure along the wall, quick to Eklund with puck. Small play, but like. Next step for him, I guess, is to take contact, then make a play, like Bordeleau and Eklund have learned.

Schenn goal: Hofer out, San Jose Sharks a tick slow on Schenn. Tough one for Cooley, hopefully they can take it in OT.

1 left: Don’t see that everyday. Zetterlund shot, Hofer save into corner, but off Zadina’s helmet, left on ice earlier, St. Louis bounce there.

OT

Sturm starts for faceoff, but he comes off quick for Eklund. Granlund and Thrun out there too.

2 left: Textbook Granlund play, takes contact from Bolduc at center wall, now firmly with puck in possession, gets rid of it.

 

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