San Jose has been playing catch up this entire series, reacting to every move Pittsburgh makes rather than asserting their style on the Penguins.
The San Jose Sharks picked a bad time to go into a funk, but that’s exactly what they’ve done as they trail the Pittsburgh Penguins by two games in this best-of-seven series and face elimination when the two teams return to action tomorrow night.
San Jose finds themselves in this precarious position because they’ve been second-best in nearly every aspect of the game, with goaltending as maybe the lone exception.
All credit to Pittsburgh for playing to their strengths and limiting the options for team teal. They’ve frustrated San Jose’s top players and have forced numerous defensive breakdowns which have led to quality scoring chances or goals.
Simply put: the Sharks are reacting to the Penguins rather than asserting their will against Pittsburgh.
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
Since the first period of Game 1, the Penguins have been the team on the front foot, dictating the pace and style of play. They nearly blew the Sharks out of the water in the opening 20 minutes of this series and San Jose has been playing catch up ever since.
Team teal is yet to hold a lead at any point through the first four games with their lone victory thanks to a Joonas Donskoi overtime winner in Game 3.
They have to find a way to reverse this trend and force the Penguins to play from behind for once. See if that changes their style and confidence.
Thus far, it’s been the Sharks having to constantly fight an uphill battle to get back into each and every game, and it’s certainly been a losing formula to this point.
Peter DeBoer has also been reacting to the Penguins attack as he’s constantly had to juggle his lines throughout to try to find any sort of spark. In the last series against St. Louis, it was the Sharks who forced Ken Hitchcock and the Blues to react to what they were doing.
Unfortunately, on the biggest stage, it’s been Pittsburgh who has forced San Jose out of their comfort zone based upon what the Penguins are doing.
So where does team teal go from here?
As mentioned earlier, it would help if the Sharks could find a way to score first against this Penguins team, a strength of San Jose’s prior to the Cup Finals. In fact, in their 18 contests against Western Conference opposition, the Sharks scored the first goal 13 times and had a 10-3 record in those games.
Playing with the lead will give team teal some confidence and allow them to settle into the game rather than chasing it from the get go.
Also, the Sharks have to be a more desperate group for an entire game. They’ve only shown what they’re capable of in spurts, and that hasn’t been good enough to this point. They came with a big push at the end of Game 4, but that was too little too late as they were absent for long stretches earlier.
San Jose must find a way to establish their game and force Pittsburgh to make the adjustments. The Sharks have been reacting to every single move the Penguins have made, and with their backs against the wall, it’s now or never for team teal to flip the script.