Monday's Game 1 defeat to the Penguins was not how many envisioned the Sharks would start off the Stanley Cup Final. If you were thinking like me, you were perfectly happy believing that the game would go into overtime. After allowing two early goals and being completely dominated by the Pens in the first period, the Sharks would cash in on their power play in the second and add an even strength goal to tie it up. Martin Jones played ridiculous all game and it really looked like we would need extra time to decide a winner....until Brent Burns' stick broke and Nick Bonino capitalized late in the third. Crap.
All things considered, the Sharks looked alright. Jones single-handedly kept them in the game; it very well could have been 4-0 after that performance Pittsburgh displayed in the first. Yet, here we are trailing 0-1. If Monday's game was a preview of what we should expect the rest of the series, the Cup won't be hoisted until Game or 6 or 7.
The nerves you feel tonight during the game are natural. Remember, for those of you who said "Sharks in 6" or "San Jose in 7", that still means Pittsburgh has another game or two to win. Just hopefully not tonight. If the Sharks can win Game 2 and tie this thing up 1-1, they're in a great position to go home and take a 3-1 series lead. If they don't, however, that really starts to make me sweat.
Tale Of The Tape
|46-30-6||Regular Season Record||48-26-8|
|3rd in Pacific||Regular Season Finish||2nd in Metropolitan|
|53.3%||Regular Season Even Strength, Score-Adj. Fenwick||53.1|
|100.4||Regular Season PDO||100.7|
|22.5||Regular Season PP%||18.4|
|80.5||Regular Season PK%||84.4|
Tomas Hertl scored the first goal in Sharks Stanley Cup Final history and Patrick Marleau added another on a wraparound, but a goals by Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary, and Nick Bonino game Pittsburgh a 3-2 win and a 1-0 series lead.
Well, the Sharks are still looking for their first win in a Final game. So there's that.
- Will Matt Nieto make it into the lineup? He's one of the Sharks fastest skaters and will be needed to combat Pittsburgh's speed. My guess it that it'll be Melker Karlsson or Dainius Zubrus that would be scratched, if Nieto hears his name called.
- Jones was great on Monday, but the Sharks can't allow another 40+ shot attack by the Penguins. The defense has to be better.
- Perhaps what is most telling about this team: every time the Sharks have had a disappointing loss, they've always rebounded this postseason. Losing tonight would put them in their first two game deficit of the playoffs, so hopefully that won't happen. This isn't a Ron Wilson or Todd McLellan team, this is a Peter DeBoer team. Very excited to see how the Sharks respond to adversity.