The season series against the New York Rangers was repeatedly called “frustrating” by both the San Jose Sharks players and head coach Bob Boughner. Nick Bonino, who was coming back from the league’s COVID Protocol, seemed optimistic in what the team could take away from the loss, as did Boughner, who had a lot of praise for goaltender Adin Hill and first-time All-Star, Timo Meier.
Defender Erik Karlsson didn’t mince his words, however, and didn’t budge on the fault lying on the Sharks’ side of the ice, not the Rangers netminder.
Here’s more of what they had to say on Igor Shesterkin, the power play and how the team moves forward:
On what makes Shesterkin a tough goaltender: I think he played great, not gonna say anything about that. He’s a good goaltender. He made some good saves, but we don’t execute enough or make the right play when we need to to score more goals, that’s on us. But again, yeah, he did play good for them.
On the margin of error against top teams: If you look at scoring chances or opportunities to have a scoring chance, they just converted on more than we did. They’ve got some elite players that make the right play at the right time. We’re trying really hard, but it doesn’t magically get us goals.
On giving up shorthanded goals: [Leading the league in shorties is] obviously not a good stat to have. Again, you score zero goals, you win zero games.
On traveling from Philadelphia: It was a long day. I was telling my wife, it felt like those long days that — she gave birth on game days twice in the playoffs — so kind of used to it, playing a little tired. But to be honest, I felt pretty good today. Tonight, Bougie was good with my usage and I felt pretty good.
On Meier’s season: He’s having a great season. Obviously super happy he’s an All-Star, well deserved. He’s doing a lot of things right. He’s good on the power play, but really, even-strength he’s carrying the play. They showed a stat last broadcast, so I know it, but 5-on-5 he’s a force out there. You saw tonight, a bunch of chances, a good pass over to [Mario Ferraro], had some chances backdoor and just wouldn’t go for him. I think we deserved a little better as a team tonight, but obviously very happy for him.
On what makes Shesterkin a tough goaltender: He’s really, really good. We don’t see him much, but he shut us out twice this year. I was just saying in the back, I don’t know how many Grade-As we had, five, six, seven Grade-As? It didn’t feel like they were gonna go in.
He’s never caught out of position, he’s never swimming. He’s square. He moves really well and he’s just a good goalie. We made it tough for him at times — obviously every team says they can make it tougher on a goalie — but I think we did get to the net and that’s 120 minutes now we couldn’t solve him.
You have to bury your chances. We haven’t scored a ton this year at times. Again though, I thought we played a pretty solid game tonight, deserved maybe a little bit better, but you play a good goalie, you have to bury when you can.
On the series sweep: It is frustrating. They’re one of the top teams in the league and I think for two games, we’ve played right with them. I think we could’ve won both games. I don’t know how many shots we had in New York, but you figure we put almost 70, 80 shots on them and didn’t get one [goal]. That’s definitely frustrating. They defend hard, they’re a good team. It’s not a mystery why they’re up high in the standings.
On playing from behind: It does [make the other team harder to score on]. Especially when we get scored on first. [...] No mystery there, we like to score first. It’s gonna happen where we get scored on first, but it seems like we get scored on a lot on the power play, shorties against us, so obviously something that can’t continue. When we have the power play, we have to score, at the very least gain some momentum.
On giving up shorthanded goals: Very frustrating. We know that our special teams have to be better. [...] As a power play player, you want to be out there to score goals and not get scored on. It’s definitely frustrating, but we’re gonna work on it, next game we’re gonna come back stronger and it’ll make a difference.
On Jeffrey Viel: He’s a guy that’s been huge for us. He shows that he’s a very tough guy and he’s not afraid of anybody. Huge for him to step up there and give the guys some energy.
On the reviewed goal: Honestly, I was just on top of the goalie. I didn’t really see the puck. Not sure where the puck was.
On Shesterkin: He’s a good goalie and made some big saves. [...] It’s definitely frustrating. I would like to score one there, where I think I hit the post or his knob. Just one of those nights, we wanted to find a way to win. He made some good saves. I thought our goalie played well, too. That’s just how she goes sometimes. I think we tried and just couldn’t get one.
On the third-period goal: I guess it doesn’t matter now that we couldn’t score a goal, anyway. You gotta score to win. It reminded me a lot of the game in Madison Square Garden, when we played them, it was 1-0 and we played a good game. Tonight, I thought we played a good game. I don’t think that we shot ourselves in the foot or we got dominated in any single area. Shesterkin made some good saves early. We couldn’t find the goal we needed, but we fought hard.
The difference was giving up a shortie, that’s something that obviously when you get a power play early in the game, you want to at least produce three or four or five good chances, and instead one’s in the back of our net. But we battled hard and just couldn’t find any offense. Not for lack of chances.
On the schedule: We’ve come off an East Coast trip there, we played a lot of hockey. Tomorrow will be a day off. I think they need that rest, mentally and physically.
On what the Sharks did well: We did a lot of great things. I think after the second, I had the chances 9-8 us, or 9-7 us. Defensively, we played a pretty good game. When we try to open it up and create offense, obviously that’s when we’re giving up some chances the other way a little bit. We stuck to our game plan, we played hard. It’s a pretty talented team over there, they got a few offensive weapons and their big guys scored tonight. We had one of those nights where we generated enough but we couldn’t find the answer on Shesterkin.
On Adin Hill: We’ve asked him to give us a chance to win every night and I think he’s done that. You can tell he’s battling hard in the net. He looks poised, he looks calm and he’s definitely giving us a chance every night. It’d be nice to produce a little more offense for him. Even in the Philly game, we were late to the party before Tommy Hertl went off and Detroit, same thing, scraping by having to find one in overtime, only scoring one or two.
I’ve said it for a long time, the margin for error when you’re not scoring, or your offense isn’t natural — unless two or three of your big boys go off, the margin of error is so slim. And you can see that again here tonight.
On Chris Kreider and his two-goal performance: He’s a good player, and he’s one of the fastest guys in the league. I think that might be his, if I’m not mistaken, 23rd goal of the season — he’s one of the top goal-scorers in the NHL. Those guys find ways, and he found a way to use his speed there, on a shorthanded situation and at the end of the game, in the empty net, and that’s his biggest weapon. He’s having a great year, and he’s one of their big guys, scoring every night for them.
On Timo Meier being named an All-Star: Just proud of him. He’s worked hard to get to this level. He’s been our most consistent offensive player all year. Along with that, he’s bought in. He’s had much better details than in the past and he’s bought in and he’s having success. It’s great to see. To get to that level that he’s at right now, he’s a tough player to play against every night and it’s nice to see and well-deserved. He’s put a lot of hard work into it.
*Lightly edited for clarity.