Ten Takeaways from Games 1 and 2 for the San Jose Sharks

SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 12: A general view of the SAP Center before the Stanley Cup Playoffs game between the San Jose Sharks and the Las Vegas Golden Knights on April 12, 2019, at SAP Center in San Jose, CA. (Photo by Samuel Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 12: A general view of the SAP Center before the Stanley Cup Playoffs game between the San Jose Sharks and the Las Vegas Golden Knights on April 12, 2019, at SAP Center in San Jose, CA. (Photo by Samuel Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

As the San Jose Sharks prepare for two tough tests at T-Mobile Arena, there are ten key takeaways to observe from the first two games of the series.

The San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights settle at a closely-contested draw after two fierce games at SAP Center to kick off the first-round match-up of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Sharks took the opener 5-2 in a convincingly commanding fashion, but the Golden Knights responded with stronger special teams play to steal Game 2

After 120 minutes of unrelenting, hard-nosed competition, there are ten major takeaways to keep in the back of your mind for the rest of the series.

1. San Jose Sharks’ Offensive Surges

This comes at no surprise, but it’s an even greater feeling to see the San Jose Sharks roll out all four lines of explosive, offensive firepower with urgency to beat Marc-Andre Fleury with numbers in their favor- a struggle Team Teal could not overcome last year.

Entering the playoffs, Team Teal maintained the second highest scoring offense in league, averaging 3.52 goals per game thanks to their torrent production during the second half of the season.

In Game 1, the Sharks poured out five goals past Fleury at all angles, including off of the lip of the Sharks captain Joe Pavelski to break open the ice. Brent Burns’ 3-on-3 snipe, in my mind, rejuvenated the Sharks offensive punch in the second period and the Sharks did not look back from there.

Game 2 began with a different pace. Sure, the Golden Knights scored three goals in a span of six minutes to kick-start a 3-0 lead.

However, the Sharks did not go down without a fight, retaliating with three lightning strikes in 2 minutes and nine seconds to even up the contest.

The San Jose Sharks have the depth to drive past the Golden Knights, and they will need every shot, every pass, every inch of the ice to steal a game or two on the road.

2. Jones’ Struggles Surface Again

For a moment there in Game 1, Martin Jones appeared to have shaken off his critics.

With a few scares, Jones made 24 saves, propelling the Sharks to the series-opening 5-2 victory.

Game 2 was a different beast.

Jones was given a quick hook after surrendering three goals on seven shots in the first seven minutes on Friday night.

You could not blame Jones for the game’s first goal just 58 seconds after the opening puck-drop. Off a turnover, Cody Eakin in a perfect position in the slot fired a shot off the bar and in to give Vegas’ first lead of the series.

While that one was near untouchable, the other two goals were certainly. On a short-handed 2-on-1 rush, Colin Miller, who had just three goals in the regular season, tucked a snap shot under Jones’ blocker while Burns opted to take away the passing option.

Max Pacioretty, a more dangerous scorer, secured the Golden Knights’ third goal at a bad angle after Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s turnover at center ice.

Silencing the crowd at SAP Center, Pete DeBoer had no choice but to yank Jones. Dell came in relief and kept the Sharks through the thick and thin of the contest, stopping 14 of Vegas’ 16 shots on goal.

Jones has faced the Golden Knights more than any other goaltender, and it was the fifth time he has been pulled – twice in last year’s second-round playoff series.

As Season 8 of Game of Thrones premieres the night of Game 3, Jones, a big fan of the show, will look for the bounce-back effort to regain the throne in Vegas.

3. Questionable Penalties

The most arguable moments in the series have been the officiating.

It all started in Game 1 when Joe Pavelski was called for a tripping penalty against Nate Schmidt, neutralizing a Sharks 4-on-3 powerplay opportunity.

It was highly questionable since Pavelski’s stick was tracking the puck and Schmidt just so happened to use his skate to play the puck at the same time.

Another very questionable penalty was Logan Couture’s goaltender interference in Game 2. Couture was well out of the crease and made the slightest contact with Fleury, who was out of the blue paint. Even Don Cherry agrees!

As a result, San Jose’s goal did not count, DeBoer could not challenge the call due to the minor penalty and it ended up being a two-goal swing as Mark Stone buried the game-winning power-play goal.

In all honesty and respect for the game, let’s hope for cleaner officiating the rest of the way!

4. The Injury Concern

The San Jose Sharks have been banged and bruised the entire series.

It started with Pavelski taking a puck to the face and redirecting it into the bet for Game 1’s opening goal. Moments later, Timo Meier was cut by the glass after a Golden Knights defender checked him hard into the boards. Thankfully, after a couple of stitches and Pavelski’s new chin protector, both returned for the second period and the rest of the Game 1.

San Jose was not as fortunate in Game 2 as Game 1. Logan Couture took a shot right to the groin and was definitely felt the effects right away. Here’s what Couture said after the game:

That was not the worst of the pain. Marc-Edouard Vlasic blocked a Shea Theodore shot at just 1:02 into the second period and it was the last time Vlasic took the ice in Game 2.

There still is no update on Vlasic, however without Vlasic and Radim Simek on the blue line, Sharks will need to Joakim Ryan and Tim Heed to step their game up.

5. Special Teams Ups and Downs

Team Teal is 2-for-13 on the power play, thanks to beauties from Pavelski and Hertl.

On the flipside, San Jose has also given up two short-handed goals, so they are really a +0 for the power play so far through the first two games.

The Golden Knights are 2-for-7 with the man-advantage. Without two of their best defensive defenseman, the Sharks will have to raise their intensity on the penalty kill while looking for lightning in a bottle on the power play.

6. Joe Pavelski: The Perfect Playoff Role Model

Pavelski is a true warrior.

His endless grit, determination and hunger for the puck set the tone for the Sharks electric offense.

Every bright and early morning skate, the first thing Pavelski does is tip pucks into the back of the net with none other than Brent Burns.

He is the best tipper in the league for that reason alone – pure dedication at his craft – and all of the young Sharks skaters look up to No. 8 as the captain who will steer the ship to the promise land.

7. Mark Stone: The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight has risen.

Since being acquired at the February 25th deadline, Mark Stone has easily been the Golden Knights’ best player, registering  five goals and 11 points in 18 games during the regular season with Vegas.

Stone leads all teams with three goals in the playoffs, including two power-play markers.

He is the main top-line threat that the Sharks have to stop  in order to escape the Dark Knight in the first round.

8. Hits, Hits Galore

The San Jose Sharks and the Golden Knights have a combined 160 hits through the first two games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

That’s more than any other first-round match-up through Games 1 and 2. This is an intense bitter rivalry and there is no need for an elaborate explanation.

It’s rather quite simple. Hitting is what both teams take pride in, fore-checking and pressuring in the neutral and offensive zones with endless aggression. Without hits, this would be a figure-skating competition.

No one wants that. Everyone wants even more of Ryan Reaves, Micheal Haley and the fourth lines laying out skaters and fighting for every inch of the ice.

Expect even more hits and bodies flying at Games 3 and 4 in the entertainment capital of the world.

9. In Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson, We Trust

While Vlasic and Simek are gone, the Sharks can heavily rely on Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson to take the bulk of the defensive work.

The two Norris Trophy winners will eat up the time on the blue line like a Thanksgiving meal.

Burns and Karlsson are the engines that ignite the Sharks offense on the power play and at even-strength.

If these two skate an average of over 30 minutes on ice in the next two games, I would not be surprised.

10. No Love Lost

There is no love lost when the Sharks and Golden Knights go head-to-head.

The intensity is off the charts and these moments are the true definition of playoff hockey when these two heavyweights square off.

light. Trending. San Jose Sharks Unsung Heroes of the Regular Seasons

For what it’s worth, this series feels like it’s heading to a game-seven finish and all hockey fans should be buckled in for the entire ride.