EDMONTON – The Sharks improved to a perfect 2-0 against the upstart Oilers on Tuesday night in what was their first of two games this season at the brand new Rogers Place. Mikkel Boedker played a starring role – yes, Mikkel Boedker – in the 5-3 victory. The three takeaways from the game, below…
1 – Boedker’s night
Immediately after Saturday’s Sharks win over Detroit, when Boedker was credited for a goal when a Brent Burns shot deflected in off of his sweater, I asked the winger if he was hopeful that the goals might start coming “in bunches” now.
"They always seem to, in some ways. Got keep going to the right areas, and good things happen,” he said.
His first goal was a direct result of getting to the front of the net, when a deflected puck made its way to his stick just outside of the blue paint. He patiently waited to pick his spot before flicking it through. It was the kind of situation that he might have panicked in and flubbed earlier this season when he was struggling with his game and his confidence.
“His first goal really got us going,” Joe Pavelski said. “It was a nice play by him to wait. There's not much space, and he puts it up there.”
Now with six goals and 12 points in 40 games, Boedker seems to be finding some chemistry with Melker Karlsson on the fourth line, too. If that keeps up, the Sharks should have a dangerous four-line attack.
“He’s a hard-working guy," Boedker said of Karlsson. “He’s simple to play with, and he doesn’t do anything that is not needed. He goes with a purpose, and it’s easy to follow that, and it’s easy to play off of that. [Micheal Haley] today did the same thing, so we were a good line today.”
2 – Vlasic’s return
Marc-Edouard Vlasic not only played for the first time in five games, but he skated for 25:44 – a season high. The Sharks lost defenseman Dylan DeMelo in the second period, so Vlasic and Burns (29:33) saw extended ice time.
Vlasic finished with a pair of assists and a plus-three rating while blocking a game-high seven shots, playing mostly against the Connor McDavid line.
“It's fun playing a fast, skilled team,” Vlasic said. “Had a lot of fun playing against their best line. We got caught a little bit turning the puck over, and when you do that, they made us pay. But other than that, I thought we played well against a very good team.”
Pete DeBoer said: “We probably don’t win without him. [To] sit for as long as he did, played 25 minutes, [seven] blocked shots, two assists. He’s a real important piece for us, obviously. It’s nice to have him back there.”
There was a scary moment late in the second period when Vlasic was caught up high with a stick, but he returned to start the third. Fortunately for him, Jordan Eberle’s blade caught him below his damaged face.
"Spear right in the throat,” Vlasic said. “It’s accidental, but unlucky that this crap keeps happening to me."
3 – Timeout calms the troops
Pete DeBoer obviously holds his players accountable, as evidenced by the numerous healthy scratches this season to important players. But he also holds himself accountable, and several players indicated after the game that DeBoer admitted to them that he should have used his timeout in the disastrous third period against Minnesota last Thursday.
He used it after Edmonton scored a pair of goals in the third to get back into the game, and it had the desired effect as Logan Couture added some important insurance shortly after.
“We talked about it the other day. Pete brought it up to us, maybe he could have used his time out in the Minnesota game,” Pavelski said.
A coach has to balance whether to use the timeout, or save it for a potential coach’s challenge.
“I just felt after what happened the last game when we didn’t use it, that we wanted to,” DeBoer said. “I don’t think it was the difference in the [Edmonton] game, but we kind of regrouped and settled in, and that next goal was obviously a big one.”