SAN JOSE – Defenseman Radim Simek may have put himself on Sharks fans’ radar thanks to his post-game interview on the evening he scored his first NHL goal. But the Czech rookie continues to give viewers something to talk about as he contributes night in and night out for his team.
Since tallying that goal on December 10 against the New Jersey Devils, the 26-year-old blueliner has added five assists to his NHL resume -- and is plus-8 through five games, second-best on the team. (Timo Meier and Brenden Dillon are tied for first with plus-11.)
When asked what there was to like about Simek’s game, Sharks bench boss Peter DeBoer pointed to “the directness and firmness” of how he plays.
“There’s nothing fancy,” DeBoer explained. “He gets places quick and he gets there with a little bit of an edge.”
This was very evident in the Sharks' 4-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. Simek tallied two assists that evening on two great plays he created. The first, a defensive play in Minnesota’s zone where he quickly wedged himself between Luke Kunin and the side boards to get the puck and chip it to fellow countryman Lukas Radil. (Which, of course, gave way to a crazy pass that set up Logan Couture for the opening goal of the game.)
[RELATED: Couture passing sequence]
On the second effort, Simek eluded Minnesota winger Nino Niederreiter in San Jose’s zone with a swift back-handed pass to Tomas Hertl – who, in turn, set up Joe Pavelski for a breakaway goal. Both goals were highlight reel-worthy, not just for how they were scored, but for how seamlessly Simek set them up with a defensive play.
“(He) makes quick decisions with the puck,” DeBoer said. “Doesn’t look to complicate the plays and he’s getting rewarded for that.”
Simek’s also getting rewarded by getting more playing time alongside Brent Burns. The Norris Trophy winner has had a few different partners this season, including Joakim Ryan and Tim Heed. Since Simek was first penciled into the Sharks starting lineup, however, he’s held down the job.
DeBoer acknowledged the directness of Simek’s game is what makes him such a good d-partner for Burns.
“He’s an easy guy to play with for a guy like Burns. You know exactly what he’s doing. There’s no hesitation to his game.”
That mix of edge and assertiveness can go a long way to help the Sharks on Thursday evening when they host the Winnipeg Jets. The Central Division squad has one of the best offenses in the league -- as well as the best power play -- and can impose their strength and heaviness on an oppositions defense.
This could be a great challenge, and opportunity, for Simek to continue showing what he can bring to the table.