The San Jose Sharks managed an astounding win in LA yesterday against the Kings, taking the series to 3-0. The Kings haven’t been swept in the playoffs since 2000 and the Sharks have an excellent chance to do so.
Here’s what must be done to manage a sweep of the series:
Do not get comfortable. Despite a 3-0 lead, the Sharks cannot be at ease going into the game on Thursday night. This is where the team falls apart. Take game 1 of the series into account. The Sharks were up 5-0 and managed to let the Kings score three goals in the final period. Sure a five goal gap in points has great potential, but in a playoff style game, there is no time to let your guard down. The Sharks must play a full 60 minutes if they wish to sweep the series.
Keep momentum. The Sharks need to find a way to come out of the gate strong and keep that strength going throughout the entire game. The Kings will be on a mission to take the win on Thursday, so eyes need to be open and the puck needs to remain in the Kings zone. Antti Niemi has been doing great so far but let’s not test the waters.
Remain physical. The Sharks vs. Kings match-up has a combined total of 312 hits. This tops any Western Conference series with others not surpassing 189. Forward Mike Brown agrees. “The biggest thing about playoffs is just wearing down their players,” he stated, “and I think the guys in here have noticed that finishing checks is breaking them down and it’s working.”
The Sharks would love to have a few extra days of rest after the game on Thursday. “You have an opportunity to give yourself a few days extra to prepare and get the body feeling better,” defenseman Brad Stuart said. “If you can, you take advantage of it.”
Todd McLellan is expecting the Kings to come out hard. Today he stated that “they will play exceptionally hard. The message to our group is to expect that. We’ll have to play a better game tomorrow than we did yesterday.”
If the Sharks remain at the top of their game, a sweep will be easily obtained.