San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski is one of the more underrated scorers in the league, and his four goals through four games in the first-round series against the rival Los Angeles Kings is proof of that. But in Game 4 Wednesday night, Pavelski scored a goal even the most stone-handed wannabe sniper couldn’t have missed, and it was all thanks to a great pass from Joe Thornton.
While the Sharks were on a power play midway through the second period, the puck was worked behind the net where Thornton set up shop. As Thornton moved out to the right side of the Kings’ net, Pavelski cut right down the middle of the ice, got his stick on the ice and gave Thornton a target to lay a perfect feed onto. Pavelski made no mistake, one-timing the puck past Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick to give San Jose a 2-0 lead: Read more
At one time during the telecast of Game 4 between the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks, a post-game day skate was aired featuring Kings defenseman Drew Doughty talking about how the Kings were very confident about their chances in the series. Doughty then gave a toothless smile, one that carried a distinct message.
Even though Doughty wasn’t exactly providing the Sharks with rich bulletin-board fodder, his intent was very clear. The Kings have this uncanny ability to make things more uncomfortable than a British sitcom for their opponents, regardless of where the series stands. Doughty was clearly doing his best to get into the Sharks players heads, a place he and his teammates have occupied with an enormous amount of success in the past. The Kings have obviously earned the right to walk and talk with a swagger and they have the Stanley Cup rings to prove it.
Forget about home ice advantage in the first-round series between the Kings and Sharks because the road team has walked away victorious for the third consecutive game, and once again it was by a one-goal margin.
In a tight-checking, end-to-end third game, Los Angeles got what could be the most important goal of their season when Tanner Pearson lit the lamp for the first time this post-season less than four minutes into the extra frame. The play began when Kings captain Dustin Brown dropped Sharks winger Joonas Donskoi with a clean, open-ice hit as the puck exited the San Jose zone. Brown chipped the puck back into the Sharks zone after the hit, allowing Pearson to turn into the loose puck, break in on a partial 2-on-1 with Vincent Lecavalier and go five-hole to win Game 3 for the Kings, 2-1. Read more
“This time is different. I know we said last time was different, and it turned out to not be, but trust me, THIS time is different.”
That’s the sentiment the San Jose Sharks, from their players to their front office to their fan base, finally want to believe. But the Sharks, of course, have been the poster child for falling short of colossal playoff expectations throughout this millennium.
They made the post-season 10 straight times from 2003-04 to 2013-14, never finishing with a points percentage below .585 and topping 100 points seven times, or eight if you pro-rate 2012-13. They bowed out in three conference finals, four times in Round 2 and three times in Round 1. Most famously, they flopped in jaw-dropping fashion just two years ago against the Los Angeles Kings. San Jose led the series 3-0. It had Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick on the run, playing some of the worst hockey of his career. But Quick and the Kings as a whole rallied. They became the fourth team in NHL history to come back and win a series after trailing 3-0. They went all the way and won the Stanley Cup. It appeared halfway through that series “this time was different” for the Sharks. Instead, they cemented the choker reputation further.
You know what question comes next. Are the Sharks different this time now that they’ve jumped out to a 2-0 lead on L.A. in Round 1 of the 2016 playoffs? We can’t know for certain. We can, however, examine the facts surrounding the 2014 and 2016 series to unearth similarities and differences.
The San Jose Sharks are in familiar territory as they head home with a 2-0 series lead thanks to a 2-1 win over the L.A. Kings on Saturday night.
During the 2014 playoffs the Sharks held a 3-0 series lead against the Kings in the Western Conference quarterfinal and lost in seven games.
This series marks the third time the Sharks have taken a 2-0 series lead in a best of seven with two road wins. San Jose won its first two road games in the 1995 and 2013 conference quarterfinals.
Joe Pavelski opened the scoring with his third goal in two games and Logan Couture added the other as the Sharks led 2-0 through two periods.
Last week we talked about how close the Hart Trophy race will be, but it’s got nothing on this year’s Norris Trophy showdown.
Not only are there four or five very worthy top candidates for the award, it’s also one of the most contentious award decisions for voters. There’s a heated debate about scoring totals vs. defensive play, or being on a winning team vs. a losing team. You can’t ignore advanced stats either.
So let’s sort it out right now and decide who should win this year’s Norris Trophy.
In the first period of Game 1 between the Kings and Sharks, Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick made an unbelievable split-legged toe save to stop San Jose’s Melker Karlsson on what could have been an early go-ahead goal for San Jose.
Quick’s stop was outstanding, and even though it’s the type of save he has made throughout his career, it’s something we’ve come to expect from the Kings goaltender. He’s contorted his body for incredible saves time and time again, and it was yet another highlight-reel stop for Quick to add to his ever-growing resume. And even still, it wasn’t even the best save of the game.
While Quick’s save was spectacular, no stop by either netminder in the contest was as thrilling as a goal line stop made by Kings defenseman Drew Doughty on Sharks veteran Patrick Marleau with Quick down and out: Read more
If you need an idea of how crazy this first-round series between the Kings and Sharks could potentially be, consider that seven goals were scored in Game 1 but neither team led for longer than 3:32 before second intermission. During two especially wild sequences in the second period, San Jose led for all of 40 seconds before Los Angeles tied the game, and the Kings took a one-goal lead only to watch it slip away 30 seconds later.
In the end, it was Joe Pavelski’s wraparound goal 17 seconds into the third period — the fastest playoff goal from the start of a period in Sharks history — that would make the difference. And in a game where no lead looked safe, San Jose managed to shut down the Los Angeles offense for the final 19:43 of the third frame to eke out a 4-3 Game 1 victory.
Pavelski’s game-winning goal came on an impressive play in which the Sharks captain shrugged off Kings center Anze Kopitar, one of the best defensive forwards in the league, and created enough to space to spin a puck on goal to beat Jonathan Quick. For Pavelski, the game-winning goal was further proof that this is his team now, and that it was he who netted the winner after scoring a game-tying power play goal in the first frame seemed fitting in what was his playoff debut as the Sharks’ captain. However, captain or not, that Pavelski scored at an important time should come as a surprise to no one. Read more