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Jabber Jaws: Boughner, “We’re fighting for our lives here.”

Postgame comments from Boughner, Middleton, Viel and Hertl about Thursday’s tilt against the New York Islanders.

Feb 24, 2022; San Jose, California, USA; San Jose Sharks left wing Jeffrey Viel (63) and New York Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) prepare to fight during the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Following a 4-3 shootout win against the New York Islanders on Thursday night, San Jose Sharks head coach Bob Boughner along with players Jacob Middleton, Jeffrey Viel and Tomas Hertl met with members of the media to discuss what positives lie in special teams, snapping a seven-game skid, Viel’s fight with Zdeno Chara and preparing for back-to-back match-ups against the Bruins and Kraken this weekend.

Here are the highlights from the postgame media availabilities:

Bob Boughner

On Viel’s fight with Chara: Yeah, that was something to see. I don’t know if he was wanting to do it because he broke the record tonight or not, but that was a little bit of a mismatch, [chuckle]. But you gotta give Vieler a lot of credit, the guy tried to stick around, tried to make an impression every night, and defends his teammates well.

On physicality in games: Niets was physical tonight — he had to answer the bell, the other night it was Gadj. The one thing we talked about during this skid is being a tougher team to play against, and that has nothing to do, necessarily, with fighting, but it’s going to the wall for each other, and those are just examples of that.

On Meloche’s exit: He got dinged with an elbow in the head and was just not feeling great, so we took him out of the line-up, and he’ll be assessed after the game. It hurt us, five defensemen, and we had a hard-fought game the other night in Anaheim, went to overtime and a shootout as well. It was hard minutes for our back end, and we got pinned in a few times, and our defense took extra long shifts on the ice. I’m proud of the guys, they battled through it, and at this time of year, you just have to find ways to get points, and tonight we did. We stuck with it and battled through even though we weren’t at our best.

On Reimer’s workload: It’s a lot of hockey he’s playing, and traditionally, we look at Reims’ career, and he’s been such a good goalie in this league for a long time, but playing so many in a row, he’s not necessarily been in that position a lot, and I think he’s coming up with timely saves, battling as hard as everyone else and finding ways. We’re just managing his rest. We gotta make a decision for the weekend about what we’re gonna do for goaltending.

We were hoping Adin would be further along at this point, he’s had a couple of decent days here in the last few days. For us, it’s giving Reims as much rest as possible. We don’t really want to face the situation of having him play back to back, but we’re fighting for our lives here, and that may be the case. We’ll see how the game goes on Saturday, we’ll see where Adin Hill’s at that point. If we gotta turn to Sawzy, he’s given us some decent periods when he’s played, and some decent times. We’re just gonna have to manage as best we can, and hopefully, when we play Boston we’re strong in front of them, and we don’t put him to the test all night. We gotta play hard defense in front of him and help him out.

On special teams success: It starts with the faceoff, and we have a good faceoff team, so credit there. I think getting the puck back and as soon as we drag it to the middle back to the flanker, and we have our feet towards the net, we can get pucks there right away, especially off the draw. We’re not a fancy power play, we’re meat and potatoes, and lately, it’s been working for us. Our special teams combined are one of the best in the league, so we take a lot of pride in that.


Jacob Middleton

On Viel’s fight with Chara: That’s pretty impressive. Chara asked him too, from the sound of it, so for Vieler to say yes and go with a guy who’s that big, it just gives us some life on the bench, that’s for sure.

On playing with five defensemen: Yeah, it was tough. You hate to see Melo go down like that, but it was tough and everyone stepped up really well, like Merks, Pickles, with the minutes everyone played, everyone did it together and it worked out well. As you can see, I’m still a little out of breath from it, but it was good. Team effort. Nice to win one too, finally.

On winning after a seven-game skid: This is the first time I’ve heard music after the game in seven games, and I couldn’t be happier to get back in there.

On Reimer’s performance: Nothing but respect for him. He just battles too, the whole 60 minutes, 65 in this case, plus three shooters, what he’s doing for us right now is keeping us in games, and we couldn’t ask for much more.

On special teams: Our special teams have been what’s keeping us in games. There’s still a little bit of work 5-on-5 defensively that I’m sure we’d like to clean up, but between the kill and the power play these past couple of games, they’ve really been what’s keeping us involved.


Jeffrey Viel

On his fight with Chara: Yeah, he did ask me on the wall. I don’t know, I thought maybe he just wanted to get his team going, he didn’t say a reason. I rarely say no. I thought I did pretty good. He’s pretty tall, so it’s hard to reach him. They announced his achievement in the first period, so I knew it was a big game for him too.

On staying in the line-up: I don’t think I’ve ever shied away from fighting anyone, and as I said before, it’s just part of my job and what I have to do, and I enjoy it. I think I’m smarter with the puck, and just making simple plays. Obviously, I got a little bit rewarded defensively too, so that’s good, but I thought my game definitely improved and I feel more confident than last year.

On winning after a skid: It feels really good, I mean, we haven’t heard our winning song in a while, so that felt great. Obviously, Reims was huge for us, and it felt great to get the two points.


Tomas Hertl

On Viel fighting Chara: It’s tough on him because he’s so big and his arms are so long, nobody can reach him. Respect to him, he jumped on it and fought for the team, I think he did a pretty good job. It’s good to see a guy like that jump for us and get us going.

On winning after a skid: It was nice to finally win. It was a lot of hockey, I had never played in so many overtimes in a short span, and it was good to get that extra point with the win, and hopefully get us going again. It was a lot of close games, always decided by one goal, wasn’t like it blow-ups or anything. We were always right there, but couldn’t finish it, so it was nice to finally get that win tonight.

On Reimer: He was really good all season long, he played a lot of hockey, and this isn’t easy, playing every night and being there for us. He made a lot of good saves today and helped us get two points.

On taking and keeping leads: We talk about how we always want to start with a lead, but we didn’t, but after that, we scored two goals and were able to lead. We should do a lot better job, especially when we scored the third and they scored the next shift, it just can’t happen. We should be putting the pressure on, not be scared. I think we get a little scared when we score a goal, we don’t wanna give one up, but I think it’s more so we have to push even more and spend time in their o-zone, so they don’t have chances. Sometimes we get scared and we don’t want to give up something and end up giving more.

On the upcoming back-to-back: We don’t have many back-to-backs this year, so we have to get ready for two tough games. We have to manage shifts, you don’t have to stay extra if you don’t have to, you have to be smart, that’s back-to-back games. Especially the second one, you have to be smarter, have to make good chances. When you stay out too long on one shift, you come out for the next tired, so you have to be smart with that. Otherwise, you don’t think about it, you just go in, play the game and try to win.


*Lightly edited for clarity