We’re all feeling pretty good after Game 1, right?
It took a few minutes in Game 1 to remember that this is, in fact, the playoffs, but once that flip got switched, the San Jose Sharks never looked back on their way to dismantling the Vegas Golden Knights for an early series lead. But last year’s Western Conference Champions aren’t going to give up that easily.
Here’s what we’re thinking about going into Game 2 tonight.
Joe Pavelski’s mouth health
Brent Burns claimed yet another teammate’s teeth. Just two seasons after Burns shot to the mouth severely limited Logan Couture’s ability to breathe during a first round series loss to the Milan Lucic-led Edmonton Oilers, Joe Pavelski fell victim to similar mouth damage from the same wookiee. That’s not to say Burns is at fault, but that is a wild track record for one man to have.
Let’s hope Pavelski’s trip to the dentist yesterday spells out good news for the suddenly gummy Captain America.
The return of Erik Karlsson
The Sharks are a different team with Erik Karlsson. In Game 1, he came back in a big way, sporting a third-best relative Corsi for and a fifth-best Corsi for among Sharks players at 5-on-5. He tallied a primary assist at both even-strength and at 3-on-3.
But there’s also just kind of that magical effect of having Erik Karlsson on the ice, y’know?
What’s going on with Joakim Ryan?
Joakim Ryan played just over three minutes in Game 1. That’s around six and a half fewer minutes than Joe Pavelski — who if you remember, got his bottom row of teeth knocked out of his mouth during that same game.
Is playing with essentially five defensemen sustainable? Is Tim Heed playing off his side a solution? Why is Ryan in the doghouse to begin with?
These questions and more will apparently not be answered by Pete DeBoer.
DeBoer stood me up at the blueline: "I'm not talking about technical things about the series. If you have questions about players or things like that, we're not getting into the technicalities of what we're trying to do or what they're trying to do."— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) April 10, 2019
Shutting down Mark Stone
As predicted, Mark Stone came into San Jose ready to score goals, and score he did. Stone, almost-Shark Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny are a frightening second line, who put up a team-best 66.47 score- and venue-adjusted Corsi for at 5-on-5 in Game 1. Limiting them to just one goal is good, but it’s going to be a long series of trying to contain that powerhouse.
The small sample size of Playoffs Martin Jones
Martin Jones put up a .923 save percentage in the first playoff game. That’s the best we’ve seen out of Jones in a long time. It helps that the Sharks limited the chances in front of Jones. The Golden Knights put up 57 Corsi events (shots on goal, shot attempts and blocked shots). But that only translated to 26 shots for — roughly 45.6 percent of their shots made it through to become a shot on Jones. Comparatively, the Sharks turned 51.6 percent of their Corsi events into shots on goal.
Tighter defense in front of Jones is key for this series, and for any run that follows.
Bold prediction: Two different players score hat tricks tonight and one of them is Timo Meier.