Sharks

Timo Meier's growth as power forward on display in Sharks' Game 1 win

meiersidebarusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Timo Meier's growth as power forward on display in Sharks' Game 1 win

SAN JOSE - You can't talk about the Sharks' win in Game 1 of the Western Conference final without talking about Timo Meier.

His two goals. His physical play. Everything about his game stood out Saturday. 

The best-of-seven series between the Sharks and St. Louis Blues promises to be a mix of both skill and force -- two elements that Meier showcased simultaneously In Game 1. But this performance wasn't a one-off or a rare occurrence. 

Even through slumps in the regular season, the 22-year-old winger continued along his trajectory. Now, he's grown into the power forward who can help the Sharks on a long playoff run.

"He’s a great player, for one," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said after his team's 6-3 win at SAP Center. "I mean, we took him in the top 10 in the draft, so you know you’ve got talent."

The Swiss forward has certainly come a long way since the Sharks selected him with the ninth overall pick in the loaded 2015 NHL Draft -- the same year the Edmonton Oilers drafted Connor McDavid No. 1 overall. Instead of being thrown right into the NHL mix, Meier spent another year with his junior club in the 2015-16 season, and logged some time with the AHL Barracuda before getting his first look with the Sharks the following year.

He bounced back and forth between the AHL and NHL in 2016-17, and was even scratched early in his second professional season last year. But through it all, Meier has developed and found his game.

Meier broke out for 66 points (30 goals, 36 assists) during the regular season, and now has 13 (five goals, eight assists) in 15 games this postseason. According to DeBoer, Meier's development has been as planned.

"I think power forwards take longer, especially physical guys," DeBoer said. "I think those guys take a little longer to have success at the NHL level, learning how to use that physicality and still use their skill. So I think he’s right on track."

There was no better example of Meier's emergence as a power forward than on his first goal Saturday. With the Sharks holding onto a 3-2 lead midway through the second period, Meier pounced on a loose puck in the offensive zone and then muscled his way around Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester to beat netminder Jordan Binnington with a back-hand shot. 

"He was a bull," Logan Couture said of his linemate. "You saw the talent on the one where he was able to walk around the d-man and finish. He’s a really good player. He’s coming into his own right now.”

Meier's second goal was a bit more fortunate, but still impressive. From behind the goal line, Meier banked a puck off of Blues defenseman Vince Dunn's left skate and past Binnington to give the Sharks a 5-2 lead. 

"I knew the goalie was moving, and the defenseman was coming at me, so I just tried to play with the luck a little bit there and get it right in front," Meier said. " ... It's nice to get a goal like that, where you had some other chances you where you maybe thought it should've went in. It's nice to get one like that, and a big goal to get some separation."

[RELATED: Dillon breaks down biggest difference between Blues, Avs]

The Blues are going to have a hard time stopping the Sharks in this series if Meier builds on his Game 1 performance. As a young player in the midst of the best postseason campaign of his professional career, Meier is proving to be a staple in the Sharks' ever-improving offensive arsenal.

"Now he’s arrived, and it’s the real deal,” DeBoer said.

NHL All-Star Skills Competition live stream: How to watch event online

hertlusa.jpg
USATSI

NHL All-Star Skills Competition live stream: How to watch event online

It's time to see who's got the skills in the NHL.

That's right, All-Star weekend officially is here and the NHL's best will descend on Scottrade Center and see who's got the goods.

The fun starts Friday with the All-Star Skills Competition as the league's best compete in a variety of events such as Fastest Skater, Save Streak and Accuracy Shooting where Sharks All-Star Tomas Hertl will try and get the W.

It should be a lot of fun.

[RELATED: Hertl honored to be All-Star, not giving up on Sharks]

Here's how to watch the 2020 NHL All-Star Skills Competition online.

When: Friday, Jan. 24, at 5 p.m. PT (coverage starts at 3:30 p.m.)
Live Stream: NBC Sports

All-Star Tomas Hertl doing best to keep Sharks' spirits up through struggles

All-Star Tomas Hertl doing best to keep Sharks' spirits up through struggles

Sharks forward Tomas Hertl is all set for his debut at NHL All-Star Weekend in St. Louis.
 
“A huge accomplishment, it will be a big honor for me,” Hertl -- who is taking the place of injured San Jose captain Logan Couture -- recently said.
 
While he is on pace for a good statistical season, it's nothing like last year when Hertl potted 35 goals and 74 points.
 
This time around, the fun-loving forward is on a Sharks club that’s looking like a longshot to qualify for the playoffs.
 
“I still try to be positive, the smiley guy, the funny guy,” Hertl explained.
 
He also acknowledged those smiles and uplifting moments have been few and far between this season, but they are still significantly better than the alternative.
 
“It’s the only way I think to help it,” Hertl stated. “It gets too much in your head. Everybody will be in a bad mood. I try my best to bring it every day, a good mood in the locker room.”
 
There are widespread assessments as to what's at the root of the Sharks' struggles this season. For Hertl, it’s the defensive failures that bleed over into trying to create too much.
 
“When we start cheating, we just can’t do it,” Hertl said. “Maybe on other teams, they have different players. On our team, it has to start with defense.
 
“I think we’ve proven it over the last lot of years. There’s always the stat of ‘two-or-fewer’ goals, we always win those games. We know that and we've always been the team that’s tough against.”

[RELATED: Key storylines to watch through remainder of Sharks' season]
 
While Hertl’s second NHL season saw San Jose’s rare miss of the postseason, he has never been with the club in a year like this where things already look so bleak entering the All-Star break.
 
“We have to step it up, and just play together," he said. "Because only the team together can win the games.”