Heading into this series, the Sharks were the underdogs, so take a look at how they were able to get past the Kings in five games.
The San Jose Sharks are advancing to the second round after taking care of the Los Angeles Kings in five games. As Sharks fans we like to think that we expected this all along but the Sharks were heavy underdogs in this series.
Since not many fans expected the Sharks to beat the top possession team in the NHL, how did they do it? Was the injury to Alec Martinez too much to handle for the Kings defense? Did Jonathan Quick‘s .886 save percentage sink the Kings? Was San Jose’s power play too potent for L.A. to figure out? Or did the Sharks simply score more goals than the Kings.
I have an alternate theory, the Sharks spent the entire series cheating in the faceoff circle.
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This doesn’t seem like a bad strategy. After all, if you want to combat the top possession team, you have to possess the puck away from the opposition. There is no better way of doing that then to control the puck from the start. So no wonder faceoffs were a key focus for the Sharks in this series.
This style of play was evident throughout this series as Darryl Sutter didn’t know what to do with himself. By the time the Sharks won, he looked like a defeated man.
Afterwards, Sutter was overheard by fans, accusing the Sharks of jumping, tying guys up and refusing to beat the Kings clean. Surely, this will be something to look for in the next round.
At least Sharks fans can take solace in the fact that their supposed faceoff prowess helped catapult them to a five-game series victory. Just imagine what would have happened if they were caught. I don’t think I could handle a playoff loss in which the opponent scores multiple power play goals in the same game.
Thankfully, they got away with their craftiness in the faceoff circle and the result was a dominant effort on their way to the second round. Lets hope this strategy continues to work going forward. Its not like the opponent will complain if the Sharks are penalized.
Until then, Sharks fans should enjoy the rest they are getting because the team will need it. As long as their opponent doesn’t mimic their strategy, they should be fine.