Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks was a true battle between two highly-skilled teams that went down to the very end.
Game 2 was a different story.
As if you haven’t heard already, the Kings dominated the Sharks in Game 2, shutting out San Jose 4-0 on their home ice, with defenseman Drew Doughty picking up four points, including two goals.
As a Sharks fan, this one was hard to watch. But if there’s something San Jose has given me all season, it’s a reason to never give up. The Sharks have been able to come back from similar (if not worse) situations this season, and I don’t expect them to let one game change their attitude.
Now the Sharks are headed to sunny Southern California for Game 3. What do they need to do to bounce back?
San Jose is a very solid hockey team, and with their depth and talent, it’s hard to find holes in their game. L.A. however, managed to find San Jose’s one glaring weakness – the penalty kill.
In Game 2, the Sharks racked up three minor penalties in the first period and two more in the second, giving the Kings momentum early. This is going to have to change if the Sharks hope to steal Game 3, and I expect their discipline to improve. Captain Joe Thornton is a great leader on and off the ice, and I believe in Jumbo when it comes to rallying the troops.
The Sharks also gave up three of L.A.’s four goals to blue liners in Game 2, and if they plan to stick around in this series, they are going to need to do a better job at pressuring Doughty and Johnson at the point, and do more to block shots.
San Jose forwards could improve on their forechecking, putting more pressure on the tough L.A. defense to make plays in their zone. Following shots and getting rebounds was also much better in Game 1, and the effort of the forwards to get in front of the net will be crucial in Game 3.
Great hockey teams have their not-so-great games here and there, and for San Jose, a little adversity has been healthy this season. I expect the Sharks to bounce back big in Game 3, thanks to the big play of their top line and a certain rookie sensation.