After being carried by the top line in the first four lines, the Sharks received contributions throughout the entire lineup in series-clinching win.
The San Jose Sharks have always had the top-end talent to compete for a Stanley Cup, but they haven’t had the depth to be able to roll four lines and six defensemen.
That isn’t the case with this Sharks team as head coach Peter DeBoer has confidence in putting anyone on to the ice in any situation.
San Jose’s improved depth was on full display last night as team teal’s role players were pivotal as the Sharks secured a 6-3 victory to advance to the Western Conference semifinals where they take on either the Anaheim Ducks or Nashville Predators.
Joonas Donskoi, one of the unsung heroes for team teal this season, was phenomenal in picking up the first two goals of his playoff career. His first goal was huge in giving the Sharks the early lead, but his wide move on Drew Doughty before banging home the series-clinching goal was one of the most impressive individual efforts of the entire series.
More from Editorials
- Korenar deserves a chance at the NHL level
- Three prospects the Sharks should consider drafting
- Red hot Couture provides a much needed boost
- Is it reasonable for the Sharks to fire Doug Wilson?
- NHL misses golden opportunity with Tahoe games
After having a rough night the last time they were in Staples Center, the fourth line bounced back with two solid performances in Games 4 and 5. Chris Tierney was robbed by Jonathan Quick on a couple of occasions earlier in the series, but his first-period snipe to give San Jose a two-goal lead was a perfect shot for his first-career postseason tally.
While the top line had carried the Sharks for much of this series, the rest of the lines chipped in when Matt Nieto was able to tap-in the third goal of the night for San Jose. It’s the kind of production DeBoer has been searching for and they delivered in a big way.
The depth isn’t just up front for this San Jose as the improved blue line is probably the biggest upgrade for this Sharks team. Roman Polak was tremendous in this series against the Kings, throwing his body around and matching the physicality of this L.A. team. Despite his Game 3 miscue, Brenden Dillon was solid overall as San Jose has never before had a third-pairing as dependable as Polak and Dillon.
Paul Martin continued to do what he does in limiting the time and space for the Kings offensive stars as he finished the series tied with Tomas Hertl with a plus-four rating. While Brent Burns grabs all the headlines, Martin does all the little things right that often go unnoticed by the casual observer.
However, without Martin’s presence, there’s no way Burns could be the effective player that he is.
Overall, this Sharks team proved to be the faster, deeper and more-skilled team than the two-time Stanley Cup champion Kings.
This was no fluke as San Jose was the better team and that improved depth from each member of the lineup proved to be the difference as team teal is moving on to round two.