San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings: Breaking Down Game 7

Scott Semmler@@ScottSemmler22Analyst IIOctober 22, 2016

May 23, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings center Coliln Fraser (24) checks San Jose Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart (7) into the boards in game five of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Staples Center. The Kings defeated the Sharks to take a 3-2 series lead. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There is no way around it—the San Jose Sharks have everything going against them leading up to Tuesday’s Game 7 against the Los Angeles Kings in the Staples Center.

No road team has won in the series and road teams have won Game 7 just 30 percent of the time in NHL history.

However, in such a tightly contested series as this (five of the six games decided by less than two goals), anything can happen—especially when this Sharks team is on the ice.

A San Jose franchise that has always been built on experience and leadership in the playoffs acquired two players midseason with some of the most experience the NHL has to offer, according to the San Jose Mercury News’ David Pollak.

Forward Scott Gomez, for example, will be playing in his 10th Game 7, tying him for the most among active NHL players. Defenseman Brad Stuart has competed in six. San Jose's lineup will include players with a combined 31 previous Game 7s; for the Kings, that number is 15.

The Kings still have the home-ice advantage, though—a point of emphasis that has seemingly been the deciding factor in each and every game of the series. Both teams have a goalie playing at his best, a shutdown defense and a knack for clutch goals.

Except the Sharks will have to do all that without the backing of their fans at "The Shark Tank."

Whichever team can claim the most offensive opportunities will win Game 7 in Los Angeles, but even that is no guarantee.

San Jose has arguably been the better team in this series. They outshot the Kings 35-20 in Game 1, only to be foiled by Jonathan Quick’s masterful performance in net. Game 2 ended with two goals in two minutes on Kings powerplays that instantly took the Sharks from up one goal in the game to down 2-0 in the series.

It was Game 3 that got the Sharks on the board with an overtime victory, despite outshooting Los Angeles by a large margin once again, and San Jose switched momentum in the series with an impressive victory in Game 4.

Game 5 was Quick and the Kings’ coming out party, with an all-around dominant performance—arguably the first of the series for Los Angeles. But it returned back to the Sharks in Game 6 with a close victory at home to force a Game 7.

What can be guaranteed Tuesday night is that nothing will go according to plan. The Game 7 atmosphere alone should be enough to prove that, but the Kings were supposed to run away with the series after going up 2-0, and the Sharks’ momentum after Game 4 was supposed to carry them to a win in L.A. and series control.

Who knows what will happen on Tuesday?

Home teams clearly have the advantage in the series, but maybe this is the game where San Jose’s series-long success finally turns into a gutsy win in a game they are not supposed to have.

San Jose has every odd against them entering Tuesday's Game 7, which means nothing when the puck drops.

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