Mikkel Boedker

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 4-1 win over struggling Senators

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 4-1 win over struggling Senators

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SAN JOSE – It may not have been the Sharks' most exciting game. Nor was it their prettiest, for that matter.

But San Jose held on to get the job done against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, skating away with a 4-1 victory and extending their season-long winning streak to six games.

Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s game: 

Martin Jones picked up right where he left off

The Sharks’ starting netminder picked up right where he left off the other night in Las Vegas. The Senators had a couple of good looks with skaters at the doorstep, but Jones expertly stood on his head to keep Ottawa from finding the back of the net through the first 40 minutes of play.

Jones also stood his ground when the Sens had a couple breakaway opportunities – something the Sharks struggled with stopping earlier in the season. His biggest highlight of the first period was when he stopped Mark Stone on a breakaway that could’ve easily put Ottawa on the board first.

The Sharks narrowly escaped ‘the trap’

There was talk ahead of Saturday’s contest it could be a trap game for San Jose after their emotional, high-octane win over the Golden Knights on Thursday. Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said at Saturday morning’s practice he was hoping the victory over Vegas would motivate the team.

While San Jose didn’t look particularly peppy in the first period, they helped to back Jones up enough to keep the Senators from getting on the board through the majority of the game. You have to give Ottawa some credit, though. They had a couple good chances before they got on the board in the third frame. 

San Jose did get a little jump-start towards the end of the second stanza when captain Joe Pavelski opened up scoring.

The PK got the job done

The special-teams battle between San Jose and Ottawa was incredibly lopsided. In fact, the Sharks didn’t get a power play on the evening until the third period was more than half-way over – and it wasn’t one of their better-looking attempts on the man advantage, either. 

Lucky enough for the Sharks, their penalty kill was its dominant self and kept the Senators from making the game interesting. Another tip of the hat to Jones, who froze former teammate Mikkel Boedker on a power-play chance in the third period that might’ve tied the game up 2-2.

In series of deals, Sharks trade Boedker, acquire four draft picks

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USATSI

In series of deals, Sharks trade Boedker, acquire four draft picks

While you were sleeping, the Sharks were busy making moves.

At 4:58am PT, the Ottawa Senators announced that they had acquired forward Mikkel Boedker, defenseman Julius Bergman and the Sharks' 2020 sixth round pick for forward Mike Hoffman, Ottawa's 2020 fifth round pick and defenseman Cody Donaghey.

Hoffman played in all 82 games this season and finished with 22 goals and 34 assists. But before he could even be fitted for a Sharks jersey, San Jose flipped Hoffman to the Florida Panthers along with their 2018 seventh round pick for Florida's 2019 second round pick, a 2018 fourth round pick (previously owned by Vegas) and Florida's 2018 fifth round pick.

By trading Boedker, the Sharks cleared $4 million in salary cap space.

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Mikkel Boedker finally living up to his potential

Mikkel Boedker finally living up to his potential

With his game-winning, power play goal in the Sharks' 2-0 win over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, Mikkel Boedker surpassed his point total from his inauspicious first season in San Jose. 

In 22 fewer games than last year, his first with the team after signing a four-year contract as a free agent, Boedker's already scored three more goals (13) and one more point (27). He's been especially productive since the turn of the calendar.  

We wrote in January that Boedker was potentially poised for a turnaround, as he appeared to have finally gotten over an early-season injury. In 30 games in 2018, Boedker's scored as many goals (10) as he did all of last season. 

That's not the highest bar to clear, but he's been very good in 2018 regardless. Since Jan. 1, he's scored five-on-five goals at a higher rate (1.32 goals/60 minutes) than dark horse Hart Trophy candidate Taylor Hall (1.31), picked up primary assists in five-on-five situations at a higher rate (0.99 primary assists/60) than Anze Kopitar (0.98), and scored five-on-five points (2.64 points/60) at a higher rate than Sidney Crosby (2.44), among other players and according to Natural Stat Trick.

That's not bad company to keep, but what's driven that level of production? Let's take a look.

Boedker's shooting more

In 30 games in 2018, Boedker's shot 64 times across all situations. In the first 29 games this season, he shot 35 times. 

Boedker's attempting about six more shots per hour over the last 30 (15.04 shot attempts/60) than the first 29, and is also generating over three more shots on goal per hour (9.42 shots/60). Those rates over the last 30 games are higher than last season, when Boedker set the best and second-best rates of his career in five-on-five shots and shot attempts, respectively. 

He's also gotten better luck...

As he saw last season, shot generation can only go so far if good fortune doesn't come along with it. Last year, Mikkel Boedker's 8.2 percent shooting percentage was the lowest of his career. He wasn't much better in that area over the first 29 games of the season, scoring on only 8.6 percent of shots. 

Since Jan. 1, Boedker's scored on 15.6 percent of his shots. That's well above his career average (11.1 percent), but if Boedker had converted on 15.6 percent of his shots last season, he would have scored approximately 19 goals, or nine more than he ended up scoring. 

...and so have his teammates

If you thought Boedker's individual luck was bad last season, the luck of those arround him was even worse in the first 29 games of this season. Over that span, the Sharks scored on only 3.31 percent of their five-on-five shots with Boedker on the ice. 

Since Jan. 1, they've scored on 10.5 percent of their five-on-five shots, and Boedker's generated about an additional assist per hour (1.32 assists/60) compared to the season's first 29 games (0.4 assists/60). Had the Sharks converted on the same percentage of shots over the first 29 games while Boedker was on the ice, they would have scored approximately 16 goals, 11 more than Boedker was on the ice for over that stretch.

What does it all mean?

It's a tad reductionist to play 'what if' with shooting percentages, but it does highlight the role that luck played in Boedker's lack of success last season and the early part of this season. The individual productivity's been there, even if the results haven't followed. 

Now, Boedker's getting results that match, if not exceed his own level of production. Both his and the Sharks' shooting percentages should regress back to the mean, but he's doing enough individually to mitigate a drop in those percentages, remain productive moving forward, and start shedding any lingering labels of being a free agent bust.