Tonight the San Jose Sharks have traveled back to Los Angeles looking to end their first round series with the heavily favoured Los Angeles Kings in a short five games and move on to face the winner of the Nashville Predators vs. Anaheim Ducks series. The Sharks are coming off of a big win at home in game four that put them in a position to eliminate the Kings today. After jumping out to a three to zero lead the Sharks were forced to hang on a little as the Kings scored two, second-period goals to make a game of it. The thing that impressed me about this win was that after the Sharks had regained their composure they tried to put the pressure back on the kings instead of laying back and trying to protect the one goal lead like they would have in year’s past.
Here are my keys to a Sharks victory in game five
- Maintain Discipline, Coach Sutter is doing exactly what a good coach does in this situation and is playing the media saying that the Kings have not got as many calls their way from the officials. This is really a two-pronged attack, first, it takes the attention off his team specifically a weak defense corps and the fact that Marion Gaborik has no goals this series, Jeff Carter has one power play goal and Drew Doughty has been held completely off the scoresheet. The second thing this does is calls out the referee. This is a classic tactic that often works, the Sharks can not have game three Nick Spaling-Esq penalties because they will be even more likely to get called this time around.
- Many Sharks fans are lamenting the fact that the Kings are outhitting the Sharks by a wide margin and would like to see a guy like Micheal Haley enter the lineup and even up this hit count. I’d maintain however that the Kings outhitting the Sharks is a good thing. The team throwing more hits generally has the puck less and the team that has the puck less generally loses. Peter DeBoer needs to be commended for keeping his team playing their game and not trying to chase the Kings at theirs. This is also why the Sharks need to end this series though as not only will they get extra rest before a next round but the less 100 hit games they take part in the better.
- The most important thing of all though is the Sharks need to live in this moment and play this game and not think about the second round until they have punched their ticket to get there and have shook hands with the Kings ending the series. The Sharks have been the better team in this series and the scores reflect it but they cannot look ahead without taking care of business here and now. There will be plenty of time to scout the remainder of the Predators and Ducks series once tonight’s game is over.
|Los Angeles Kings||San Jose Sharks||Advantage|
|1-3||Playoff Record||3-1||Sharks lead 3-1|
|23.1% (3/13)||Power Play||27.8% (5/18)||Sharks|
|72.2% (13/18)||Penalty Kill||76.9% (10/13)||Sharks|
Projected Kings Lineup
Lucic – Kopitar – Gaborik
Pearson – Carter – Toffoli
Brown – Lecavalier – Versteeg
King – Shore – Lewis
McNabb – Doughty
Muzzin – Schenn
Scuderi – McBain
Projected Sharks Lineup
Hertl – Thornton – Pavelski
Donskoi – Couture – Ward
Karlsson – Marleau – Nieto
Spaling – Tierney – Wingels
Vlasic – Braun
Martin – Burns
Dillon – Polak