The Sharks have tried for years to get the championship monkey off their back in order to write the first piece of their own history. Tonight, they will desperately try to stave off entering the history books for an altogether distasteful reason. Up three games to none only three teas have gone on to lose a playoff series, most recently in 2010. The Bruins survived that playoff collapse primarily cause they came back out and won the Stanley Cup the next year. For the Sharks? Well, just add it to the list.
After mostly outplaying the Kings through the first four games, the LA team I expected to see at the start of this series showed up for game five. They destroyed the Sharks in 5-on-5 play, giving Jonathan Quick one of the easier shutouts he has had in his career. San Jose looked great on the powerplay and generated plenty of chances from the man-advantage but were unable to cash in during their 3-0 defeat.
San Jose needs to play one great game -- or alternatively, the Kings need to play one bad game -- for the Sharks to get that second round matchup with Anaheim we all so desperately want. One of the old cliches about coming back from a 3-0 hole in hockey is that it's tough to "leave it all on the ice" four games in a row. The adage would give me more comfort if the Sharks were playing the Minnesota Wild and not the Los Angeles Kings, but take from it what you will.
Antti Niemi didn't survive the night on Saturday and Alex Stalock saved every shot thrown at him. As a result, he'll be starting Game 6 tonight in some baptism by fire.
Marc Edouard-Vlasic left Game 5 after Jarrett Stoll laid on him late in the first period. From McLellan:
"There is an obvious answer: He didn't return after the blow he took the head from Stoll,'' McLellan said coolly. "He has an upper-body injury. Call it that."
As I'm sure you've heard, Stoll has received no disciplinary action for the hit.
It's up to the Sharks to make it not matter tonight. Hold on to your butts.
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