The San Jose Sharks have chosen to let go of Peter DeBoer. Bob Boughner will replace him as the interim head coach. Can he get the Sharks back on track?
Peter DeBoer was not the only member of the San Jose Sharks staff let go last night. The Sharks also chose to let go of assistant coaches Steve Spott and Dave Barr, as well as goalie coach Johan Hedberg. These four members of the coaching staff were instrumental parts of the Sharks making the 2016 Stanley Cup Final as well as making the Western Conference Final last season.
DeBoer led the Sharks to a 15-16-2 record this season, and under his watch, they have lost the last five games. Instead of talking about why DeBoer was fired, let’s talk about why Bob Boughner was elevated to head coach. Promoting Boughner should provide the team with a spark to start winning games.
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He served as head coach of the Florida Panthers during the last two seasons. Under his leadership, the Panthers went to an 80-62-22 record. The Panthers never made it to the playoffs with Boughner in charge, but they did show some signs of improvement.
In 2018-19, the Panthers had a power-play percentage of 26.77%, well above the league average at the time. Maybe now Boughner can help improve the Sharks power play this season. They currently have one of the worst Power Plays in the NHL with a percentage of 16%.
Talking about the power play might sound a little bit frivolous when you look at some of the issues with the Sharks right now. San Jose has some of the worst goaltending in all of the NHL, and they currently have the second-worst goals-against total in the NHL with 114 goals. Former San Jose Sharks netminder Evgeni Nabokov has been elevated to the goaltending coach for the Sharks, and if he can find a way to turn Martin Jones or Aaron Dell around, that would make a significant difference.
Jones and Dell have save percentages of .891% and .893% respectively, which is not great when you look at the defense they have in front of them. San Jose having goaltending issues is not a new thing, but when you look at the group of defenders they have, it makes little sense why their goaltending is suffering so much.
Defensively the San Jose Sharks have Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, Brenden Dillon, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic all making up their top four. That is not bad when you look at the star power that Burns and Karlsson bring to the team, and yet they struggle. Maybe Boughner can help change the defensive system in San Jose because something is not working.
The NHL has seen a lot of coaching changes this month, for a lot of different reasons. It is important to note that DeBoer getting moved was simply for coaching reasons. With all of the coaches getting let go for their treatment of different players seeing a coach get fired for strictly hockey reasons might come as a shock.
It is too soon to tell whether or not elevating Bob Boughner to head coach will be able to change the team’s season now. Teams in the past have tried and for some, it works. Pittsburgh brought in Mike Sullivan midseason and they won the Cup that spring, similarly the St. Louis Blues fired Mike Yeo last season and brought in Craig Berube to help change the team. For Pittsburgh and St. Louis it worked, but other teams have seen only failure from doing a midseason coaching change.
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Chicago made a similar move last season during the year and suffered a month of losing upon firing Joel Quenneville. Personally I would not be surprised to see the Sharks continue to struggle unless they bring in a goaltender to help elevate the team.