Pucknology Game Day Report
Today the San Jose Sharks will attempt to even up the series with another home win at SAP Center in San Jose, California as the Sharks face off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in game four of the Stanley Cup Final. So far the games in this series, for the most part, has favored the Penguins who have been better able to control play for large stretches of the prior three games and have done a better job of exploiting the Sharks weaknesses. The Sharks have had a hard time dealing with the barrage of the Penguins four line rotation while the Sharks had been forced to shorten the bench. The Sharks are seeing a system that they used to get to this point being used against them very effectively.
That all being said not once in the first three games have the Sharks not been within a bounce of leading or winning a game thus far with a lot of credit going to Martin Jones who has faced the lions share of shots this series at 113 but has still managed a 2.17 GAA and an impressive .938 SV% in the finals so far. You can blame a lot of things for the Sharks woes so far but goaltending isn’t one of them. In comparison, Matt Murray has also been good for the Penguins and while he has only faced 74 shots himself has a GAA of 1.85 and a .919 SV % something the Sharks would like to correct going forward.
As happy as I was with game three’s victory a win tonight would better convince me that the Sharks are not just prolonging the inevitable and have a real chance of winning this series.
Keys to Victory
- The Sharks forwards need to really come to life, Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski have been leading the league for production this playoff but have been mostly held off the scoresheet. Now this is partially because of the defense of the Penguins but the Sharks can’t win this series without them.
- Sharks need to find ways to get more pucks through to Matt Murray who although has been fantastic these playoffs have not faced nearly enough pressure from the Sharks offense for a Stanley Cup Final.
- The Sharks cannot win a series if they cannot hold or let alone actually play with a lead which is something they have yet to do in three games and is the source of my of my own doubts about their chances in this series.
- Martin Jones needs more support and needs to play the puck less. Jones got caught a couple of times early on trying to do too much to compensate for his defenceman’s lack of speed and it cost him in game three.
- The 3rd pair of Roman Polak and Branden Dillon has no chance of being “good” against this Penguins team but they could try to move from being terrible to just bad. I’m very disappointed how badly they have been outperformed by Ian Cole and Justin Schultz.
Matchup by the Numbers
|San Jose Sharks||Pittsburgh Penguins||Advantage|
|13-8||Playoff Record||14-7||Penguins lead 2-1|
|(18/69) 26.1%||Power Play||(15/70) 21.4%||Sharks|
|(47/57) 80.0%||Penalty Kill||(51/61) 83.6%||Penguins|
Sharks Projected Lineup
Karlsson – Thornton – Pavelski
Donskoi – Couture – Marleau
Nieto – Tierney – Ward
Zubrus – Spaling- Wingels
Vlasic – Braun
Martin – Burns
Dillon – Polak