Sharks Get Owned in LA, Kings Cruise 4-1

December 19, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Tommy Wingels (57) shoots on goal as Los Angeles Kings goalie Martin Jones (31) defends the goal during the second period at Staples Center. No goal was scored on the play. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Easily the Worst Effort of Season- If the Sharks thought they were ready to challenge the Los Angeles Kings on the Staples Center’s ice, they had better think again. Missed opportunities followed by the Kings’ simply taking over the game in the second period led to Los Angeles easily handling the Sharks 4-1 at Staples Center Thursday Night. This game was simply never close after the first period as the Kings took the game to the Sharks and left Team Teal miles away in the dust. In addition to getting their collective hats handed to them, the Sharks also lost Tomas Hertl to a knee injury after Kings Captain Dustin Brown made sure the Sharks rookie phenom would not be a factor. Brown hit Hertl knee on knee knocking him out of the game. Brown got game misconduct and the Sharks got a five-minute major power play. Even with the major power play the Sharks came up short as a goal by Brent Burns before play was stopped was disallowed as he was called for interfering with LA goalie Martin Jones negating two minutes of their opportunity right off of the bat. The Kings penalty kill easily handled the Sharks power play over the next three minutes afterward. Speaking of Jones, he made 31 saves with most looking routine in nature, though he did have to work for a few. Patrick Marleau scored for the Sharks with 2:10 remaining to break the shutout. Make no mistake about this game, the Sharks were manhandled in this one by what was obviously the better team on the ice.  This was the Sharks only other trip to Staples Center this season where there are 0-8-2 in their last ten visits. If the two teams meet in the post season it will be an extremely dicey proposition for Team Teal. Antti Niemi made 28 saves which really only meant the outcome could have been much worse.

Martin Jones is as Advertised- Los Angeles goalie Martin Jones showed the Sharks why he was undefeated in his six prior starts.  Jones took the Sharks best shots in the game and simply had little trouble turning them away. The Sharks were 0 for 4 on the power play as Jones was able to stop the few shots that Team Teal got through. The rest were stopped by the Kings penalty kill which simply overwhelmed the Sharks despite Team Teal having a man advantage.  Justin Braun and Mark Edouard-Vlasic had the majority of the Sharks chances on Jones early. Logan Couture’s slump also continued as he had just three official shots on goal while missing an empty net once. Tommy Wingles had six shots that Jones also handled almost routinely in nature.  The rest of the team did not do much better. Even with Marleau’s late goal to break the shut-out, Jones overall was simply the better goalie on the ice and it was not close there either. Once Jones and the Kings got past the major penalty to Brown they simply took the game over.

December 19, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings celebrate their 4-1 victory against the San Jose Sharks following the third period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

An All L.A. Story – Within a minute and a half of killing off the Sharks major power play the Kings got on the scoreboard as Alex Martinez drilled a slap shot that cleanly beat a screened out Niemi at the 5:26 mark of the second period. Things would get no better for the Sharks as with Martinez’s goal came what proved to be a permanent shift in the game’s momentum.  The Sharks only success of the evening was trumped by another Kings goal later in the period. After killing off a holding penalty to Joe Thornton, the Sharks despite the penalty kill would get caught on a bad line change leaving Tyler Toffoli alone in the Sharks defensive zone. After taking a feed pass from Slava Voynov, Toffoli drilled a slap shot that beat Niemi to his right as it appeared the Sharks netmider just fanned at the puck as it went by him. The Kings had a 2-0 lead and Staples Center was going crazy. In the third period it took the Kings just 36 seconds from the opening faceoff to erase any doubt about the outcome. Jeff Carter would score basically by taping a puck past Niemi after taking a feed pass from Dwight King. This was the result of the Sharks once again being careless with the puck in their defensive zone and the Kings pouncing on the gift given to them. King himself would score Los Angeles’ fourth goal just under six minutes later after Carter turned the earlier favor of a perfect feed pass. The Sharks down 4-0 no longer had to worry about trying to win the game, it was now just about survival and trying to get though the final 13 plus minutes without any injuries other than to their soiled pride.

Soul Searching- The good news if there is any is that his was one game, and one loss in the middle of December. That’s all that will be reflected in the standings. However for the Sharks they really need to seriously take a good long look at what happened in this game, and maybe take even a longer look in the mirror while they are at it. The Sharks were completely outplayed very easily and somewhat decidedly by a team that they are supposed to be contending with. As soon as the Kings scored their first goal to take a 1-0 lead it seemed as if the Sharks just retreated for the nearest places that were away from the action. If the Sharks are a better team than this they have a long way to go to prove it now. What happened early in the season may only be a memory if the Sharks can do no better in a hostile environment that what they showed at Staples Center Thursday night. The Sharks have now lost 10 in a row in LA (spanning almost over three years), and almost none were by accident. It may not be a matter of game preparation as it is how this team handles game situations and adversity.  If the Sharks beginning to the 2013-14 campaign was two steps forward, Thursday night was a major step backwards. Obviously you also have to give the Los Angeles Kings a ton of credit. They were the better team here (and frankly the better team period), and clearly wanted this game more and played much harder and smarter.  If the Sharks have any aspirations of winning or even competing for a Stanley Cup, they are going to have to be able to win against teams like Los Angeles and Chicago on the road. In three games the Sharks are 0-2-1, both losses by blowout (you can even add Pittsburgh to that, different conference but same caliber of a team). Until the Sharks show they can win in hostile environments, the cup for this franchise is at best a pipe dream.

Next Sharks Game- The Sharks return home to the Shark Tank Saturday night to take on an old rival in the Dallas Stars. The puck drops at 7:30pm.

The Kingshark

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