“He just has to score here, right?”
That question echoed through the head of many a Sharks fan on Tuesday night as Mikkel Boedker created yet another scoring opportunity in front of fellow Dane, and Toronto goaltender, Frederik Andersen. The goal never came. Heck, Boedker didn’t get so much as an assist, but he did put together his best performance of the season.
Boedker was on the ice for seven scoring chances according to Natural Stat Trick, the second most of anyone on the Sharks. He created a few gorgeous chances, including the one embedded below that seemed destined to lead to a goal for the Dane.
That wasn’t even his best chance of the night; though at the time it was the best chance for the Sharks of the night. Boedker’s best chance against his countryman came later on and it featured some of the strongest skating I’ve seen from the forward this season.
I’m of the mind Boedker has been more unlucky than not good this season, but we also haven’t seen this side of the forward much. He features a nice scoring touch, sure, but Boedker isn’t the type of scorer that gets to the dirty areas or dances around multiple defenders to get into the crease; or, he hasn’t been that player in San Jose.
The Leafs are thin defensively, and Boedker took advantage of it, naturally. He won’t (and doesn’t) get to feast on this kind of thin defense on a regular basis which is why he looked so darn energized on Tuesday night. That doesn’t take anything away from a strong performance, but it’s important to stay grounded, too. This isn’t an awakening.
Boedker currently has the highest expected goals per 60 minutes of his career according to corsica.hockey. That stat takes into account the location of shots, the type of shots and the number of shots taken. It’s a little more sophisticated than just looking at how many pucks a player fires at the net and it makes Boedker look just as unlucky as the eye test has made him look.
That’s Boedker’s season by season expected goals per 60. You can see that a third of the way through the season the forward has never posted a better mark, yet he only has a goal to his name. What’s the deal? One explanation is pretty simple: His shooting percentage is dreadful.
Boedker is shooting 4.61 percent at even strength, by far the lowest mark of his career. While it’s possible the Dane has regressed to the point where his hands have (literally) turned into stone, it seems more likely to me that he’s running through a spell of incredibly poor luck. He shot 9.35 percent last year and if he had shot at that rate up to this point he’d have at least another goal to show for it.
If Boedker keeps playing like he did last night, the goals will come. At the very least, it should save him from any more unceremonious benchings. That’s good news for both Boedker and Sharks fans — he’s not going anywhere any time soon.