NHL Playoffs 2011: San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings Game 2 Breakdown
Entering the game the San Jose Sharks were saying all the right things from momentum to home ice, San Jose talked the talk. Regrettably the Sharks would fail to follow through as the Los Angeles Kings frustrated San Jose to the tune of 4-0 in Game 2.
With Jarrett Stoll serving a suspension for his boarding hit from behind on Ian White, the Sharks had a prime chance to seize control of the series but went belly-up.
Justin Braun would get the nod over veteran Kent Huskins on the third pair with Niclas Wallin, and Niemi recorded 19 saves in the loss.
Behind a six minute span starting from the Ben Eager slashing penalty halfway through the first, the Sharks did their best to hand the game to LA. Against a lowly Los Angeles power play, San Jose gave them four consecutive minors, all of which were avoidable.
Antti Niemi did his best despite the team putting him behind the 8-ball early, but the Sharks did little to muster a counterattack against the stingy King defense.
San Jose must put this loss behind them as quickly as their Game 1 OT thriller, to prepare for Game 3
San Jose bolted out of the gate as they did in Game 1, delivering several huge hits and great scoring chances. The Couture line provided some early opportunities in the first following some great cycling action to the left of Quick.
The wheels began to come off following a Ben Eager slashing minor for slashing Jack Johnson on the forecheck at 11:26 of the first period.
Jack Johnson opened the scoring on a slap shot from the left point that eluded Niemi blocker side just a minute later.
At 13:50 Ryane Clowe was called for roughing during an scrum, the start of several stupid San Jose penalties. With just a few seconds left in LA’s fifth power play of the series, Drew Dougthy added to the lead burying the slap shot high to the glove side from the slot.
Unchecked San Jose emotions led to Ryane Clowe cross-checking Drew Doughty high in the slot, putting the Kings back on the attack. While San Jose managed to get their house back in order to close out the period, the Kings still held the 2-0 lead.
Opening the second period, Los Angeles came out strong dominating the Sharks in their own end for over a minute. A fatigued Demers would take a delay of game penalty after chipping the puck out of play in his own zone.
San Jose’s penalty killers responded again with a strong effort, and the teams swapped penalties midway through the second period.
Doughty struck again at 15:42 putting the shot past an Oscar Moller screen giving the Kings a 3-0 lead. The second period ended with a clear advantage to the Kings, playing excellent defense and not allowing the Sharks to get many quality chances.
Still outshooting the visitors by the score of 23-16 after two periods, San Jose needed a big spark in the final frame to stage a rally. Dustin Penner finally made an appearance in the series, taking the roughing minor on Dan Boyle in the first minute of the third.
The Sharks could not capitalize on the early powerplay, adding to their frustration in this series with the man advantage.
Kyle Clifford added the insurance goal at 4:54 to make it 4-0, and that was it for the Sharks for Game 2. The unchecked San Jose emotions that got them into trouble in this game boiled over with some late fights and scrums.
Despite outshooting the Kings 34-23, San Jose drops to 10-15 all time in Game 2 playoff games and now must travel to LA to regain the lead.
What Worked :
San Jose got back to business in the faceoff circle, rebounding from a horrid Game 1 performance. Winning 17 of 24 faceoffs in the first, the Sharks started fast and maintained control dominating the faceoffs.
Sadly the Sharks could do nothing despite the edge in faceoffs, as the Kings shut down the meager San Jose attack.
Jarett Stoll returns for Game 3 having won 73 percent of his draws in Game 1, so the Sharks will need to buckle down again in the dot.
San Jose had no answer for Doughty, who tied a franchise playoff record with four points in Game 2. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 Entry Draft already has accumulated 5 goals and 6 assists in just eight career postseason games.
Terry Murray’s grandstanding : Before the puck dropped in Game 1, LA head coach Terry Murray was hard at work in the official’s ears about San Jose skaters. His petitioning paid off in Game 2, with some questionable calls early and often that led to the Shark deficit.
Still the Sharks took some lazy, undisciplined penalties that resulted in this game being over before it really got going. San Jose must maintain focus and emotion, without committing the horrible penalties.
What Didn’t Work :
Poor shot selection
As we’ve seen in the past, the Sharks again outshot their opponents early and often making the opponent goalie seem unstoppable and failed to adapt their game. This is an bad trait and will be addressed in Game 3 on the road.
Outshooting the Kings 15-10 in the first period, and 34-23 overall for the game many of these chances were routine for even the average goaltender. The Los Angeles Kings were able to block 22 shots as opposed to the Sharks meager eight, a condemning statistic that shows the poor quality of Shark shots.
Even in the Game 1 OT thriller, many Shark shots were of poor quality, without enough presence in front of Quick and providing easy saves.
It’s the playoffs, and you may miss all the shots you don’t take but there comes a point where the Sharks must get back to basics. Crowding the net, crashing the crease for rebounds and getting traffic in front is paramount in solving Jonathan Quick.
The Sharks will hopefully get back to basics in Game 3, where their depth and skill can take control back in the series.
Nemo had a rough game, allowing four goals on just 23 shots but you can bank on him rebounding from this shutout loss. As he did a year ago after being pulled in the Vancouver series and late in the Finals, Niemi will show his championship mettle in LA.
Usually very sound in locating pucks through traffic, Niemi allowed three LA goals from long shots by Kings defenseman.
Up Next :
To put it lightly, this game was bad from almost any angle for San Jose and the lack of effort late in the game has to be concerning for fans. San Jose has until Tuesday to get their house in order, and will need their leaders to step up their play.
Although Justin Braun had a strong game, Ian White must return bringing his steady veteran play in the backend.
San Jose must also find the fine balance between emotion and stupidity, because you don’t win many games by allowing your opponents to get that many man advantages. The physical play figures to continue ratcheting up as a few late scrums and the Mayers-Simmonds tangle should carry over to Game 3.
San Jose must respond much like they did a year ago following a Game 3 shutout pitched by Craig Anderson in the Colorado series. Los Angeles is a better team playing at home than on the road, and they’ll need to respond from a lackluster Game 2.