In Game 7, you never know who’s going to step up and here are some potential candidates from a Sharks perspective.
San Jose will be facing their first elimination game of this postseason, while Nashville finds themselves in their fourth such game in these playoffs.
With team teal looking to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the fourth time in franchise history, here are some X-factors to keep an eye on for the Sharks:
Ward was brought in by general manager Doug Wilson because of his ability to elevate his game in the playoffs. For his career, Ward averages 0.64 points per game in 61 postseason contests, up from his 0.44 points per game during the regular season.
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In five previous career Game 7’s, Ward has notched two goals, including the series clincher in overtime to defeat the Boston Bruins in 2012.
While Ward has been held in check since Game 1, look for him to have his best game tomorrow night with everything at stake.
It’s the playoffs which means there’s plenty of question marks surrounding Marleau, who always seems to deal with his fair share of criticism whether right or wrong.
Marleau is a key piece for the Sharks as he possesses the speed to get by the Nashville defense, which was evidenced by his Game 3 goal when he blew past Shea Weber and Roman Josi.
San Jose will need Marleau to use his speed and not stay on the periphery of the action. If he’s engaged early, Marleau can be a difference-maker as he only needs a sliver of space to deliver a big goal.
Jones has been answering questions all year long about how he would respond to being the number one netminder in San Jose.
Up until this point, he’s answered every one, amassing 37 wins during the regular season with a 2.27 GAA and a .918 save percentage. He backed that up by defeating his former protege in Jonathan Quick in round one, and now he has team teal on the brink of the third round.
While Jones struggled in Nashville allowing 12 goals over the course of the three games, he’s been rock solid at home giving up only five goals on 95 shots faced (.947 save percentage) in the three games at SAP Center.
The Sharks need Jones to be his calm, unflappable self tomorrow night and keep them in the game. He doesn’t have to steal the show, although that’d be nice as well, but he just needs to make the stops he’s supposed to.
He’ll have another opportunity to silence the critics yet again and prove he’s capable of leading his teammates onward this postseason.