A lot of uncertainty surrounded the San Jose Sharks heading into Game 1, but team teal came out with a hard-fought win against the Los Angeles Kings. Tonight, heading into Game 2 at Staples Center, the Sharks will look to bring their offense again.
In a game that was uncharacteristically high scoring between these two rivals, one has to wonder if both coaches will really emphasize tightening up defensively after the seven goals last game. That’s definitely something to watch for the Sharks, as I felt they gave up a few too many rushes in the second period.
Joe Pavelski‘s going to be one to keep an eye on for the Kings. The captain had two goals, including the game-winner, Tomas Hertl continued his solid play with a rebound goal, and had one disallowed so look for him to continue to be a factor. Of course, if Joe Thornton continues his great play, I wouldn’t be surprised if he spearheaded the Sharks attack tonight.
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While the Kings have plenty of offense that showed on their side as well, their blue line is a huge factor in this series, namely Norris Trophy candidate Drew Doughty, who had a game-high 29:19 of ice time. And with Alec Martinez likely out of the line up for Game 2 with an undisclosed injury, Doughty’s contributions will be relied on even more as he possibly looks at filling in the void. The good news for LA, however, is Marian Gaborik could be back in the line up for Saturday night’s matchup, which could fuel the Kings’ offense even further.
As for special teams, the Sharks need to be aware of their power play, as in not giving up anymore short-handed goals, which they did in Game 1. Just get it to the net. Don’t look for the pretty pass, and don’t take risks, because then you’re just feeding the Kings’ momentum. All-in-all, the Sharks went 1-for-4 on the power play and the Kings were 1-for-3.
Here are the anticipated starting line ups for tonight’s game:
San Jose Sharks
Los Angeles Kings
Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi – Logan Couture – Joel Ward
Matt Nieto – Patrick Marleau – Melker Karlsson
Nick Spaling – Chris Tierney – Tommy Wingels
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – Roman Polak
Milan Lucic – Anze Kopitar – Marian Gaborik
Tanner Pearson – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Dustin Brown – Vincent Lecavalier – Kris Versteeg
Dwight King – Nick Shore – Trevor Lewis
Brayden McNabb – Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin – Luke Schenn
Rob Scuderi – Jamie McBain
Keys to the Game
Tighten up defensively. As I mentioned before, I thought the Sharks gave up too many offensive chances to the Kings. Know your defensive assignment. Don’t get caught flat-footed.
2) Puck Management
The Kings are obviously a very good puck possession team. They don’t like to give up possession, so make sure those passes get through to your teammates. Limit the turnovers, and put the puck into good areas where the forecheck can get going.
3) Keep Playing Your Game
I’ve heard this a lot on a Sharks podcast, and I have to agree. The rivalry is great. We love the big hits. We love some fighting here and there, but don’t let it distract you from your ultimate goal to win the series. Stay disciplined. Don’t buy into the pushing and shoving and fisticuffs. They can throw as many hits as they can, and you still have your speed game. Don’t be intimidated by their aggressiveness, but at the same time, play Sharks hockey.
TV: CSN-CA, NBCSN (7:30 p.m. PDT)
Radio: 98.5 KFOX