The Sharks play their first Stanley Cup Playoff home game since Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final at 7 p.m. PT on Sunday. San Jose looks to regain the series lead against the Edmonton Oilers after splitting the road pair in Alberta.
San Jose did the job it needed to in Edmonton, but the loss on Friday was about as demoralizing as it could be. Not only did the Sharks give up two shorthanded goals, it seems Connor McDavid has arrived on the postseason stage. That’s very bad news for San Jose. If the Sharks can’t slow him down, they may not be long for this world.
Getting last change may come as little consolation to Sharks fans who took a peek at McDavid’s competition from Friday’s game. The Oilers’ captain got a steady diet of Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun on Friday night (8:28 and 7:55, respectively) and chewed them up like chocolate cake. McDavid was a +8 against both Vlasic and Braun at 5v5.
His worst possession numbers of the night came against Joonas Donskoi. He was a +2 (5 for, 3 against). No one so much as slowed down McDavid on Friday and if that’s the type of series he’s going to have, the Sharks are in deep trouble. And even with that kind of night, Oilers head coach Todd McLellan only played him 21 minutes. If he decides to lean on McDavid more (and I think he should), the Sharks are in big trouble.
Nobody played particularly well on Friday, but the fourth line at least played less poorly than everyone else. We’ll see if San Jose head coach Pete DeBoer decides to make changes there anyway. If Joe Thornton draws into the lineup, and he might, I expect to see a trickle-down effect in the lineup. We’ll know more after the morning skate.
The first two games have kept us from getting a good grasp on this series so far, perhaps a third game will set a more consistent tone.