Sharks must find way to score on power play away from home
Sharks forward T.J. Galiardi celebrates a goal against the Kings with teammate Joe Thornton during Game 6 of their NHL Western Conference semifinal at HP Pavilion in San Jose, May 26, 2013. (JED JACOBSON/Reuters)
If the San Jose Sharks expect to buck the trend in this homer series and steal Game 7 in Los Angeles on Tuesday, their road power play had better wake up out of its deep slumber.
When Joe Thornton opened the scoring for the Sharks on a five-on-three advantage in the first period of Game 6 Sunday night, it marked San Jose’s 11th power play goal in the 2013 NHL playoffs. Of concern: ten of those have come in the friendly confines of the Shark Tank.
In order to dispose of the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings, the Sharks need to get their power play going at the Staples Center, a daunting task for a team that has scored just once with the man advantage away from San Jose.
The other pressing issue with the Sharks power play is the lack of production from its second unit, one that features Scott Gomez (two points in these playoffs) and James Sheppard (zero points).
In fact, all 11 Shark power play goals have come from San Jose’s No. 1 unit – Logan Couture (5), Joe Pavelski (3), Patrick Marleau (1), Dan Boyle (1) and Thornton (1).
Thanks to Sunday’s 2-1 victory, the Sharks have a legitimate shot to send the titleholders packing. But if they want to pull it off, they’ll have to bring their power play with them instead of leaving it behind at home.
NET GAINS & PAINS
While the past five Stanley Cup winners are still in the post-season, it’s interesting that only the defending Kings are currently riding the same goalie that led them to their title. That, of course, would be Jonathan Quick, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy a year ago en route to helping the Kings win their first title. The others: Detroit (Chris Osgood in 2008, Jimmy Howard in 2013); Pittsburgh (Marc-Andre Fleury in 2009, Thomas Vokoun in 2013); Chicago (Antti Niemi in ‘10, Corey Crawford in ‘13); Boston (Tim Thomas in 2011, Tuukka Rask in ‘13) ... Niemi is a much better goalie now in San Jose than he was when he led the ‘Hawks to the Cup three years ago against a Philadelphia Flyers team that had sub-par goaltending in the final. Having said that, allowing a second-period goal from behind the goal line to Dustin Brown on Sunday was a real momentum buster. With his team up 2-0 at the time, you have to make that stop ... Up until Sunday night, Quick had allowed one goal or less in four of the Kings’ previous five playoff road games and eight of their past 11.
X’S AND WOES
From the “believe it or don’t” department: Through the first two periods Sunday, the Kings had turned the puck over 14 times, the Sharks only once. That Los Angeles trailed by just a 2-1 margin after such sloppy play through the first 40 minutes is just remarkable ... Those living in the east probably don’t get a chance to regularly watch Kings defenceman Slava Voynov play. Too bad. Sure, he’s made waves in the 2013 post-season by scoring three game-winning goals for Los Angeles. At the same time, he is a very underrated defensive player. In both the first and second periods, speedy Sharks forward Patrick Marleau appeared to be in the clear only to have his scoring chance squandered thanks to excellent plays by Voynov ... Kings coach Darryl Sutter, in an attempt to balance out his team’s scoring, dropped Brown to the third line, then saw his captain score in the second period. Sometimes coaches look like geniuses, don’t they? Especially those who are coming off a Stanley Cup victory ... When the Kings’ Anze Kopitar flipped the puck over the glass in the first period, it marked the 22nd time in these playoffs that a delay-of-game penalty was handed out for such actions ... Kopitar and Trevor Lewis went a combined 1-for-13 in the faceoff circle in the first period. Brutal.
LAST MINUTE OF PLAY
Drew Doughty might not have been a Norris Trophy finalist but he certainly is playing like one. Even his coach can’t help himself but tap Doughty’s shoulder to go out on the ice whenever possible. Prior to Game 6, Sutter said he wanted to cut Doughty’s ice time to preserve his prize blueliner. So, what happened? Doughty played more than half of the first period, garnering about 10 1/2 minutes of ice time. In the playoffs, you have to go with the hot hand. Just ask Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien, who has been playing Zdeno Chara 30-plus minutes per game.