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Boughner on Meier: “This is the best hockey I’ve seen him play.”

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Credit: AP Photo/Tony Avelar

If you ask Timo Meier, he’s got more to give.

“Yeah, I think the start [of the season], not bad,” Meier said, after potting a goal and an assist in the San Jose Sharks’ 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. “But I can take another step, make some better [plays], be more consistent.”

That’s a scary prospect for an already-scary player.

“He’s been one of our best, if not our best player all year,” Bob Boughner offered. “When he holds onto pucks down low, he uses his speed, he could be a scary player.”

If you don’t believe the San Jose Sharks head coach’s words, believe the stats:

• Meier, despite missing five games in COVID protocol, is tied for the team lead in points, tied for second in goals, and tied for second in assists
• Meier, per Natural Stat Trick, leads the squad in Goals, Assists, Points, Shots, Shot Attempts, and Scoring Chances Per 60 – at 5-on-5 and in All Situations
• Meier, per SPORTLOGiQ, leads the Sharks in Expected Goals, Offensive Zone Possession Time, Slot Shots, Cycle Chances, Rebound Chances, Zone Exits, and Zone Entries Per Game
• He’s second in Inner Slot Shots, Forecheck Chances, and Slot Passes Per Game

“This is the best hockey I’ve seen him play,” Boughner, who’s coached Meier since 2019-20, volunteered.

Logan Couture specifically recognized Meier’s propensity for exiting and gaining the zone with control of the puck: “Give it to him in the neutral zone, he’s going to enter into the offensive zone seems like almost every time. He’s got so much speed and strength that it’s tough for d-men to stand up on him.”

Meier’s goal is a great example of this:

The San Jose Sharks have been waiting for Meier to emerge as a star for a while. For two years, to be exact, since they signed Meier to a four-year, $24 million dollar contract in the summer of 2019. Coming off a 30-goal campaign, big things were expected from the 22-year-old. The winger, instead, responded with back-to-back disappointing campaigns.

What’s changed for San Jose’s 2015 first-round pick?

“He’s got some more urgency. In his overall game, he works hard away from the puck,” Erik Karlsson said. “We know he’s a good skater, he’s a big body. So far this year, he’s used that to his advantage.”

Boughner has seen the same things.

“We had a challenging face-to-face at the end of the year last year, an exit meeting. We’ve sat with Timo a lot last year, trying to talk about the details of his game,” Boughner shared. “I think he’s finally bought in, the better he plays defensively, the less he’s going to be in his own end.”

This smart backcheck — Meier reads what Brandon Duhaime (21) wants to do with the puck — is an example of the winger’s new-found commitment to two-way hockey:

Meier acknowledged last year’s exit interview: “I’m probably the toughest guy on myself. I have high expectations for myself. I knew going into summer where I wanted to improve, what I needed to do to have success for my personal game and how to be a better player for the team.”

“He’s got to this point in his career where he just understands the way he has to play to have success,” Boughner said.

This is, finally, the Timo Meier that the San Jose Sharks thought they were getting when they re-signed him in 2019.

The 25-year-old winger cautioned: “It’s a long, long season.”

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