Sharks

Is Mikkel Boedker about to turn his season around?

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AP

Is Mikkel Boedker about to turn his season around?

Mikkel Boedker’s assist in Tuesday night’s win over the Montreal Canadiens was an example of why the San Jose Sharks signed him last summer.

He used his speed in transition against a reeling Habs defense to create a quality look off of an odd-man rush, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic was able to bury the ensuing rebound. The problem is that those moments are becoming increasingly rare.

Boedker’s only shot on goal and only shot attempt on Tuesday night came in the aforementioned Vlasic goal. That’s become all too common for the Danish forward this season.

He’s attempting shot attempts during five-on-five play at the second-lowest rate of his career, according to Corsica Hockey, and is generating about one-and-a-half fewer shots every 60 minutes at even strength. Combine that with a career-low five-on-five shooting percentage (3.23 percent), and Boedker’s on pace for one of the worst offensive seasons of his career.

As disappointing as Boedker was last season, he only scored two fewer goals at even strength than he did the season before hit free agency, and one fewer point playing five aside. His five-on-five shot attempt rate was the highest of his career, and his shot rate was the second-highest.

Of course, he was also healthy. Boedker played in all but one game last season, but has missed seven already this season with a lower body injury.

It appears that he’s just starting to get over what ailed him. After going shotless, pointless, and playing fewer than nine minutes a night in his first two games back from injury, Boedker generated seven total shots, two assists, and played more than 10 minutes in his last four.  

Only once before this season has Boedker shot at least once in four (or more) consecutive games, and that was about a month before he went on injured reserve. The Sharks are tremendously tight-lipped when it comes to disclosing injuries, so it’s fair to wonder how long he was playing hurt.

So even as Boedker hasn’t bounced back in the way he or San Jose wanted, his recent play is fairly encouraging, as the Sharks desperately need him. He may not be used in a top-nine role, but with Barclay Goodrow injured, Jannik Hansen struggling, and Danny O’Regan not quite ready for a roster spot, the Sharks don’t have any viable alternatives for Boedker’s spot in the lineup.

With two years and a $4 million cap hit remaining on his deal, Boedker won’t net much on the trade market, either. So, the Sharks have little choice but to rely on him to contribute.

If plays like his assist against Montreal become more frequent, San Jose won't mind having to do so.

Why Sharks’ Tomas Hertl wasn't even 2020 NHL All-Star Game MVP finalist

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AP

Why Sharks’ Tomas Hertl wasn't even 2020 NHL All-Star Game MVP finalist

Tomas Hertl put on a show for the fans during the 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis on Saturday night, but he won't be bringing the game's MVP award back with him to San Jose.

That's in large part because the Sharks center wasn't even one of the four finalists for the award.

A few minutes before Hertl scored the game-winning goal for the Pacific Division, the NHL posted a poll question on Twitter asking who the MVP of the game should be.

Keep in mind that the game was tied 4-4 at the time of the poll question. Edmonton's Leon Draisaitl, Ottawa's Anthony Duclair, Boston's David Pastrnak and Calgary's Matthew Tkachuk were the four players nominated for the award.

Hertl's game-winner was his fifth goal of the night, which led all scorers. In the Pacific Division's semifinal win over the Central Division, Hertl netted four goals, including the final three of that game.

Pastrnak won the award with 36 percent of the vote, but we're guessing Hertl would have gotten a higher percentage had he been a finalist.

After the night's festivities were over, Hertl met with the media in the dressing room and was asked if he was disappointed he didn't win All-Star Game MVP.

"No," Hertl said. "I think [Sharks assistant coach] Mike Ricci was the first one to text me that hopefully I got for him a new car, but it's all good. I'm happy we won and we won the prize, so it's exciting."

[RELATED: Hertl brings fun to skills competition]

The 11 Pacific Division players will split the $1 million prize money for winning the tournament. Before taxes, each player will take home $90,909.

If Hertl was at all privately bummed he didn't win MVP, that check he's going home with will make him feel a lot better.

Watch Sharks' Tomas Hertl score 2020 NHL All-Star Game-winning goal

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USATSI

Watch Sharks' Tomas Hertl score 2020 NHL All-Star Game-winning goal

Tomas Hertl was pretty quiet for a majority of the NHL All-Star Game Final.

But with 2:36 remaining in the final period, Hertl gave the Pacific Division a 5-4 lead with a breakaway goal.

The Pacific would hang on to beat the Atlantic Division by that same score, taking home the $1 million dollar prize.

The goal was Hertl's only marker of the All-Star Game Final, but his fifth of the night as he scored four in the semifinal game.

Despite Hertl's gaudy numbers and game-winning goal, he didn't take home the All-Star Game MVP. That went to the Boston Bruins' David Pastrnak.

Hertl will receive a hero's welcome when he returns to San Jose on Sunday. The Sharks open the second half of the season at home Monday night against the Anaheim Ducks.

Hopefully for the Sharks, Hertl can carry the momentum into the final few months of the season.