Sharks Gameday: Composure
Sharks lead series 2-1
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After an absolute roller coaster of a game three, the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings will attempt to steady their pounding hearts tonight in Los Angeles.
For the Kings that means getting back to what was successful for them throughout the series-- an attention to their defensive scheme, something that was sorely lacking in the second period on Tuesday night. Terry Murray and his club know that playing run and gun up and down Figueroa Street isn't the best way to win a hockey game, and as LA defenseman Rob Scuderi said following the game, it was an "immature" performance from the youthful Kings.
Despite some fairly compelling evidence to the contrary (evidence that takes a subject such as "momentum" into consideration), it seems like Los Angeles is poised to play their best game of the series tonight. The whip was probably cracking loudly at practice yesterday morning at Staples, and considering the embarrassment of blowing a four goal lead in a matter of 18 minutes, one has to assume the team got re-acclimated with the message of grinding out a victory.
Expect game two, and the third period of game three, to more or less be what the Kings are going to give the Sharks defensively-- because the alternative situation speaks volumes. Dropping two in a row at home, and thereby spotting the Sharks a 3-1 lead heading into game five, would be about as close as you can get to a death sentence for the Kings.
Per James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail:
When a higher seeded team has had a 2-1 lead, they have won the series 75.9 per cent of the time.
When a lower seeded has had a 2-1 lead, they have won it only 60.5 per cent of the time.
Increase that to 3-1, and the higher seeded teams have won 92.3 per cent of the series from that point on. Lower seeded teams have won 87.8 per cent of them.
Once the series goes to 2-2, however, it's basically a dead heat, with the higher seeded team having only a slight advantage historically due to playing two of the final three games at home.
For the Sharks, attention to detail of another kind is going to be the key tonight. The first period has treated San Jose very well this postseason-- the opening frame of games one and two were probably their best overall periods outside of last night's outburst in the second, and yet the Sharks have only managed to score the first goal once this postseason, doing so in dramatic fashion in game one when Dany Heatley banged home a rebound on the first shift of the series.
We've mentioned it time and time again this postseason but it does bear repeating-- that first goal of a game is always going to be a big one, especially in matchups as magnified as the playoffs. With the Kings blueline and forwards making up one the best defensive units in the League, and Jonathan Quick playing well between the pipes (the second period, while obviously not a crowning achievement in his professional career, didn't feature too many softies), it's unlikely the Sharks will have a repeat of game three ever again.
Something Head Coach Todd McLellan was quick to point out only moments after Setoguchi's game winner:
"This is a game that you don’t expect to happen. I don’t think it’ll repeat itself. It’s something we have to understand that we were very fortunate to have come back from that deficit. We’re excited about it, but we also know the mulligan that we used tonight won’t be available to us again."
Relevant words tonight, even with all of San Jose still scraping brain matter off the wall after their heads exploded in ecstasy a mere thirty six hours ago.
Prediction: Sharks win 2-1. Goals by McGinn (what a snipe from the press box!) and Vlasic (who's about as likely to score a goal as McGinn is tonight). The city of San Jose has to get out the ol' brain scrape for a second straight night.