SAN JOSE – The Sharks continued their strong play at home this season with a 4-1 pounding of the Flames. Three takeaways from one of their more decisive wins of the season…
1 – Donskoi coming around
I always find it somewhat humorous when Pete DeBoer scratches or benches a guy, and the reaction from so many on social media is something along the lines of, “but why is Donskoi (or Joel Ward) out, but Micheal Haley is in?!?” Well, if you’re one of those, you’re seeing why now. Donskoi has admitted more than once that the one-game absence from last Wednesday’s game in Ottawa was good for him. He has four points in three games since then and is looking much more like the player from last season’s playoff run.
“I think it was a good thing for me to be out one game and kind of get rest and try to turn my game around a little bit,” he said Tuesday night. “I wasn't happy with the way I was playing. When I got back in the lineup, just try to turn this thing around personally."
Apparently Paul Martin, who has been around a few pretty good scorers in his career, has telling Donskoi to shoot the puck more lately.
"A lot of guys tell him,” Martin said. “He's' such a good player. It's only a matter of time [before] he gets his [opportunities]. He works so hard. Sometimes he just has to put it to the net and good things happen. I was happy for him."
Joe Pavelski said: “[Donskoi has] been right around the net the last few games. To see them start going in for him, it’s pretty good, because he works hard and is competitive. Good to see him get those.”
2 – Even strength scoring improving
In their last six games in which they’ve gone 5-1-0, the Sharks are outscoring their opponents 15-10 at even strength. While the power play still seems cold more often that hot, how a team is performing at even strength is usually the most important indicator of its overall game.
“There were a lot of guys that were doing a lot of good stuff, it just wasn't going in for them,” Pete DeBoer said. “It's starting to turn, and we're starting to get that confidence now five-on-five."
The Sharks’ top line generated two goals from Patrick Marleau and Paul Martin, staking the team a 2-0 lead.
“The big guys were great, obviously, too,” DeBoer said.
3 – Staying out of the box
Just like the power play, the Sharks’ penalty kill wasn't exactly a strength headed into Tuesday’s game, operating at a middling 76.1 percent since Nov. 17.
But, San Jose does tend to stay out of the box. The Sharks have been shorthanded just 85 times this season, tied for second-fewest in the league. That was especially important against the Flames, who came into Tuesday’s game with a red-hot power play. No doubt DeBoer stressed that before the game.
"We knew they have a good power play so we were trying to stay out of the box,” Donskoi said.
DeBoer said: “We knew we couldn't take penalties, and the ones we did, we had to find a way to shut them down because they have been very dangerous."