San Jose returns home facing their biggest mountain to climb throughout this postseason run.
During this Stanley Cup finals run, the San Jose Sharks have enjoyed plenty of highs with relatively few lows.
However, the Pittsburgh Penguins have come in and punched San Jose right in the mouth in the opening two games of this Stanley Cup Final. The result: an 0-2 series hole for team teal, one they’ve yet to face at any point during these playoffs.
Sure, the Sharks have faced some adversity during this postseason. They’ve dropped all four games that have gone to overtime. They were pushed to a Game 7 by the Nashville Predators. They lost Game 1 of the Western Conference Final against the St. Louis Blues.
But all those instances pale in comparison to the challenge San Jose currently faces. Team teal finds themselves in an unfamiliar place as they are the ones on the defensive.
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Thus far, Pittsburgh has given the Sharks a taste of their own medicine. In advancing through the Western Conference, San Jose was the team dictating the pace of play and capitalizing on the mistakes of their opposition.
Team teal was utilizing all four lines and six defensemen to wear down their opponents and overwhelm them with scoring chance after scoring chance.
It’s what made the Sharks such a trendy pick in these Cup Finals.
However, Pittsburgh has flipped the script on San Jose and have forced the Western Conference champions into an uncomfortable position: playing from behind.
With their victory in Game 2, the Penguins became the 50th team to take a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final in the best-of-seven format. As you can see, history is not on the side of the Sharks.
So, where does San Jose go from here?
Well, the good news is the Sharks are returning to the friendly confines of SAP Center where they have more than 17,000 fans ready to explode at a moment’s notice. San Jose has waited 25 years for this moment and they will certainly be charged up to cheer on the boys in teal.
Also, the Sharks need their best players to get it going again. Part of their success all postseason long has been the ability of their key players to raise their games and accept the challenge. Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski have to find their way on to the scoresheet as they’ve been outplayed by Sidney Crosby to this point.
Team teal should feel confident about the play of Martin Jones, who’s been rock solid in keeping them in both contests. They just need to find a way to generate a more consistent offensive attack, which they’ve shown the ability to do in spurts.
San Jose has been a resilient group, battling back after all the turmoil from a season ago and even a sluggish start to this year. The Sharks have proven to be a tough out and will have to showcase that ability over the course of the next two games.
It starts tomorrow night in Game 3 where they will be faced with their greatest challenge of the season. Facing a virtual must-win contest on home ice, it’s make or break time for these Sharks whose magical run could be quickly coming to an end unless they find a way to pick themselves off the mat and punch their way back into this series.