NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Monday night’s matchup between the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks with coverage beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
Timo Meier has learned to relax.
Currently in the middle of a 10-game goal drought, the 22-year San Jose Sharks forward isn’t worried that he has not beaten a goalie since Dec. 13. Despite his young age and relative inexperience (155 NHL games), he’s not pressing to end the skid. He’s learned he can be helpful in other ways.
“When you don’t score it can be a little frustrating sometimes, but I try to relax and don’t think about it too much — that’s when you get in your own head,” Meier told Pro Hockey Talk last week. “I’m trying to do whatever I can to help the team win. Sometimes you’re not scoring goals and then you’ve got to do other things. You’ve got to still play your game and maybe just be a little more physical. Overall, it doesn’t change much in my game. I know it’s going to come if I work hard.”
The goals have come for Meier, who is in his third NHL season. In 2017-18, he netted 21 goals and 36 points. He’s already on pace to surpass both of those numbers this season with 18 goals and 37 points through 40 games.
After missing three games in December due to injury, Meier returned to the Sharks’ lineup and proceeded to record three goals and seven points in four games. That saw head coach Peter DeBoer dub the Herisau, Switzerland native “a critical guy.”
“You take that type of player out of anyone’s lineup, you’re going to feel the effects,” DeBoer said.
Now an established NHL regular after getting fourth line minutes during a 34-game rookie season in 2016-17, if hockey didn’t pan out for him, Meier had an alternate career planned out.
Before moving to Canada to play junior hockey for the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads, Meier had an apprenticeship with Swiss club Rapperswil. When he wasn’t playing for the team he was working in their offices on the marketing side and seeing how a hockey team was run. Reaching the NHL remained a dream, one that gradually became closer to reach thanks to fellow countrymen like Mark Streit, Nino Niederreiter and Roman Josi succeeding in North America.
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“I just always had so much fun playing hockey that I didn’t think too much about that stuff,” Meier said. “I always took it as it came. I tried to make the best out of every situation. I think a big part of this is having fun all the time; wherever I was playing I tried to really enjoy it. Sometimes you’ve got to be lucky to be at the right spots at the right time, but I feel really lucky to be where I’m at right now. I also try to really enjoy it and take advantage of the opportunity I have.”
Meier is making the most of his NHL opportunity and is always trying to better himself. He’ll regularly approach the Sharks’ video staff and ask for clips of his shifts to find ways to better his game. He knows there’s always room for improvement and will even request clips of some of the league’s top stars to learn from them.
It’s Meier’s goal to come to the rink everyday with “a purpose.”
“The NHL, it’s a tough game,” he said. “Every night you’ve got to be on your game and you’ve got to help your team win games. For me, something that I definitely learned is the consistency, that you really got to find your game. Even though sometimes it’s not going well, you’ve got to keep it simple and really do the smaller things that will help you to score goals and stuff like that, which all starts in the defensive zone, and really be a responsible player [so] that the coach knows what he gets out of you when you he puts you on the ice.”
Alex Faust (play-by-play) and Jamie Baker (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will call Kings-Sharks from SAP Center at San Jose. Paul Burmeister hosts studio coverage alongside analyst Anson Carter.
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.