It’s also a good opportunity to figure things out before a tough upcoming five-game stretch which includes games against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes — all teams with 50+ points already this season.
Sharks head coach Bob Boughner met with media ahead of tonight’s contest to discuss line-up changes, how goaltending has been a factor this season and who he knows on the opposite bench tonight.
Here’s what he had to say:
On decision to insert Adam Raska into tonight’s game: Opponent based. I liked how he played when he was in our line-up. Going over last game and watching all our players play, and thinking about who we’d set up well against Seattle in our line-up. Basically it’s just a coaching decision.
On what is missing from Lane Pederson’s game right now: Consistency, details. I think we talked a lot about that. I thought he played okay last game. There’s a few wrong routes and a little bit of inconsistencies in his game. When he jumps over the boards, you got to know what to expect every night. That’s part of his game I think he needs to work on a little bit.
On goaltending strategy for the next few games: Both guys are coming off of good hockey. They both played well of late. We want to play Reims against Tampa Bay on Saturday and obviously didn’t want Hiller sitting around ‘til next week on a road trip to get his next start.
So, it’s about keeping both guys game-ready and both guys — who are having some success as of late — to keep that net.
On his familiarity with Kraken assistant coach Paul McFarland: I had a chat with him today, catch up a little bit. We had history back with the [Windsor] Spitfire days. But I hired him to run a power play in Florida. He did a heck of a job, that was his first job in the NHL. I think we finished second that year — my last year in Florida — on the power play. Paul had a big part of that.
So, just been friends. We spent some time together in the summer, as well. I just asked him [about] his experiences here in Seattle. Obviously he had a lot of great things to say about the organization and the city and all those things. So, good to see him.
On if he tried to hit McFarland with the puck during Sharks practice in Seattle today: Yeah, I tried to hit him with the puck and my shot was off [chuckling].
On the consistency of goaltending this season: It’s helped us. I think that especially at the beginning of the year, we had some ‘stand on your head’ performances by Hill and Reimer both. I think that really kickstarted our season off.
I know we went 4-0, but I thought it was just a good sign of things to come. I think that we felt comfortable with both guys. We still feel comfortable. They both had their moments when they rode hot streaks. Even when their plays dipped a little bit individually, they’ve picked it back up and found it again, and that’s important.
It helps us obviously on our PK percentage. It helps us — even though we’ve changed our defensive setup a little bit in our zone, and we’re tight, and we’re blocking more shots and all those things. I think it’s given this team a lot of confidence — the ability that we know we can win any night.
*Lightly edited for clarity.