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For those unfamiliar with NHL Playoffs seeding, it's not bracketed like the NBA or March Madness. After every round, the NHL reseeds its teams based on their records, so that the team remaining with the best record plays the team with the worst record. (Of course this only means something in the second round, but whatever.)
The San Jose Sharks had to wait awhile after winning their first round matchup with the Los Angeles Kings, but after a dramatic Game 7 victory by the Vancouver Canucks over the Chicago Blackhawks, they know that their opponent will be the Detroit Red Wings. It will be a rematch of last year's faceoff in the Western Conference Semifinals, where the Sharks won the series in 5. Can San Jose accomplish a rare feat and dispatch hockey's most storied franchise for the second year in a row?
With 3:23 remaining in the final frame and the game tied at 3-3, the Jamie McGinn went to the penalty box for a five-minute major of the charging variety. It was a questionable call, but the San Jose Sharks didn't let it get to them - they'd already prevailed twice against the Los Angeles Kings in overtime and were willing to gain some momentum by killing the penalty. They stopped it through the remainder of the third period, and then came out in the overtime frame full of energy and aggressiveness. The Kings had a couple of good chances on the power play, but Antti Niemi was solid and the Sharks got the kill. Cue Devin Setoguchi putting the puck on net, Patrick Marleau getting a small piece of it and Joe Thornton grabbing the rebound to beat Jonathan Quick as cleanly as we've seen this series, giving the Sharks a 4-3 win in game six, and a 4-2 series win in the quarterfinals.
The Sharks played some great hockey early on, dominating play in the first period, but they failed to get any points in the opening frame. They out-shoot the Kings 16-5 in that period, in which Los Angeles had a nine minute stretch without a shot on goal. Period two began with a Sharks power play, but Jonathan Quick makes some great saves and nothing comes of it, the Kings kill the penalty. Kyle Wellwood has an excellent chance early on with a virtually empty net, but misses wide with the backhand, drawing the ire of fans and commentary teams alike. He makes up for it though, circling around the net, recovering the puck and putting it to Thornton, who dishes it back to Wellwood, who beats Quick high and away for the first goal of the night. He also went out and made a great defensive play on the very next shift, skewing the trajectory of a Kings' pass and forcing them offsides.
Joe Thornton was then called for a four-minute high sticking penalty, and Justin Williams was able to score in the third minute of the power play to tie the game at one-all. Thornton made a very bone-headed play shortly after returning from the penalty box (good thing he notched the game-winner), Quick lost his stick and Thornton was on that side with the puck and an opportunity to shoot, but he neglected to do so. Jason Demers struck to put the Sharks up 2-1 though, when Joe Pavelski made a great play to circle around the back of the LA net and take it almost to the neutral zone, before hitting Demers on the weakside, who puts it past Quick up and away.
The third period was demoralizing for the Sharks, as the Kings came in and scored just eighteen seconds in, Ryan Smyth with a pass and drives the net, catching the rebound to put it past Niemi. San Jose began to look a little tired and slow out there, but a Dany Heatley solo goal from between the circles just inside the far post put the Sharks back up and gave them some more energy. The Kings get another power play though, when Demers was called on an interference penalty, and that goes to Trevor Lewis. This all lead to overtime, and you know the rest.
Antti Niemi finished with 26 saves, while Jonathan Quick made 31 of his own. The Sharks out-shot the Kings 35-29 and won the faceoff battle 37-28.
Thornton's earlier hesitance to shoot the puck when Quick was without a stick highlights a big problem tonight: the Sharks had three power players, went 0-3 on them, and only had three total shots in said power plays. That's altogether, and Thornton was not the only culprit. The only player who didn't seem gunshy was Heatley, even Marleau circled around, had a lane, and ended up passing back instead of firing, which begs the question of whether or not Quick got into their heads with a 51-save performance in game five.
Either way, the Sharks have a lot to look at going into round two, and we'll touch on that with a full series recap tomorrow and a new stream for round two. Stay tuned for more, folks. Don't forget to head over to Fear The Fin to celebrate.
The San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings are facing off tonight in a pivotal game six. The Sharks lead the series 3-2 and are hoping to finish off the series with a third win at the Staples Center, while the Kings are banking on their first win at home in these 2011 NHL Playoffs. The Sharks, as we all know, failed to get things done in game five. They were coming off two fantastic victories, recovering from a four-goal deficit and also getting a solid 6-3 win, both of which should have been vastly demoralizing for the Kings.
Evidently not, as it happens. The Kings came out and jumped to a three-goal lead that they'd never relinquish through periods two and three to get the victory. Antti Niemi was pulled after giving up three goals on four shots and Antero Niittymaki came in, and stopped all eighteen shots that came his way the rest of the way. But there wasn't a feeling of not performing for the majority of the night, nobody really got the feeling that this was a Sharks team that couldn't hang with the LA unit on ice. There's so much more to it than "Jonathan Quick stole one," but it really is one of those games that can be simplified to that level.
He stopped fifty-one shots in game five, a game that saw the Sharks dominate the puck for about fifty of the sixty minutes of play. In regards to the on-ice performance for the majority of the game, it's hard to suggest the Sharks do many things different. They do need to do a better job of getting bodies in front of Quick and screen him a little, and they definitely need to make better use of their power plays, but it felt like nothing would have worked in game five. Quick was just on his game and he took that game from the Sharks.
Completely falling apart in the first couple minutes while leaving your goalie hanging out to dry is also something they could probably do differently. Niemi wasn't pulled unjustly, but he did deserve more help from the guys around him. The first goal was a mental error on his part, and the third goal was one he should have been able to stop, but still, he didn't have any support at all. Todd McLellan is sticking to his guns and leaving Niemi in the lineup as the starter. The team committed to him earlier this season and that's going to be the case going forward in these playoffs, barring another awful performance early on.
The best thing the Sharks can do is just play a tighter game from the get-go and not let the Kings get ahead to an early lead, which is a stark contrast to how many figured this series would go: in that, the Sharks were supposed to jump to the early lead and have the Kings playing loose the remainder of the game, but it seems like everybody on the young LA unit is playing the best hockey they can. The Sharks need to play their game and not let Niemi get rattled early.
CSN California will have the game at 7:00 p.m. tonight, don't forget to head over to Fear The Fin for discussion.
Niemi was victimized last night in HP Pavilion, giving up three goals in four shots. He has been pulled twice already this series, including a rough outing in game three that put the Sharks in a 4-0 hole before they came back miraculously. These outings lead to speculation that Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan would turn to backup Antero Niittymaki in a pivotal game six.
That speculation was put to rest this afternoon.
With San Jose facing down Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick, who was absolutely brilliant last night during the course of his 52 save performance, all eyes will be on Niemi as he attempts to rebound once again from a poor postseason outing. If the Sharks are to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Niemi is going to have to be the catalyst in net.
The organization has a lot of confidence in him due to the Stanley Cup ring he earned with Chicago last season, and showed that confidence by making a 4 year, $15.2 million commitment to him earlier this year.
It was a tale of two goalies in game five of the quarterfinal matchup in the 2011 NHL Playoffs between the San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings. Maybe it should be a tale of three goalies, with two of them playing well and one of them ... not so well. Antti Niemi was pulled in the first period after giving up three goals on only four shots, and Antero Niittymaki came in. Jonathan Quick was nothing short of amazing for the Kings, and he was the catalyst for maintaining the Kings three-goal lead and getting the win.
Niemi gave up the first goal after making a mistake while playing the puck behind the net, he gave it away to Brad Richardson along the boards and Kyle Clifford was more than happy to take his rebound and sink it in the net. The second goal came off a bad, bad turnover by Dan Boyle in the neutral zone, and it set up a two-on-one, where Brad Richardson shoots and Clifford, along with Wayne Simmonds, put it in the goal without much issue. Following that, Ian White gave the puck away to Dustin Pener, who put it past Niemi for the third goal. At that point, he was pulled.
Niittymaki came in at that point, and he looked great. He made one of the best saves of his career in the third period, but he didn't have the support from his team to get a win. Patrick Marleau got the lone goal for the Sharks, with the help of Joe Thornton and Niclas Wallin. It was a good goal, but looking at the final statline, you'd think it was a fluke. Niittymaki stopped all eighteen shots that came his way, and deserves props and potentially a starting nod in game six.
But back to Quick, he was amazing in this game. Looking at the final score, you might think the Sharks got dominated in all phases of the game, but it wasn't so. They dominated play in the second and third periods, but could not crack the code that was Jonathan Quick. Ryane Clowe was robbed on a fantastic shot, Logan Couture was preempted and had his solo attack stopped. There was nothing they could do. Quick stopped 51 of 52 shots with a .981 save percentage.
It's not that the Sharks would have won if Quick wasn't so on his game, but they outshot the Kings (who were actually fairly aggressive) 52 shots to 22. It's hard to tell how the Sharks should feel after this game, but it's definitely one that you could label as "stolen" by the opposing goalie. They hit well, they shot well, they controlled the puck well and they didn't get the win in the end.
The biggest decision now will be who will start in net for the Sharks, Niemi or Niittymaki. The Sharks will have two days to figure that out, as play resumes for game six in Los Angeles on Monday.
The San Jose Sharks could have easily been down 2-1 in their quarterfinal matchup in the 2011 NHL Playoffs against the Los Angeles Kings. After winning a close game one in overtime, thanks to the heroics of Joe Pavelski, the Sharks went on to drop a 4-0 shutout and managed to look like they had nothing for the Kings in sixty minutes of play. In game three, it was almost more of the same, the Sharks came out flat and allowed three goals in the first period of play. They kept goalie Antti Niemi in, and the Kings scored in the first minute of the second period, giving them, once again, a 4-0 lead.
But they didn't let it get to then, they made it 4-1, then 4-2, and eventually, it was tied at 5-5 in the second period. Five goals in the second period was good for a franchise record in the playoffs, and when Devin Setoguchi put the puck in net in overtime, it became the best comeback in San Jose Sharks playoff history.
Now that is demoralizing.
The best thing the Kings could have done in that situation was come back in game four and even the series up again at two games apiece, but the Sharks largely dominated that game, scoring goals in three-goal spurts and winning 6-3 when it all was said and done. Now, play resumes at HP Pavilion with San Jose holding a 3-1 edge. How can the Kings recover after something like that? It's not that they can't, it's just that it's a really big longshot at this point, isn't it?
Ryane Clowe, Joe Thornton and Pavelski (along with Niemi) have been very key this series for San Jose. They will be looking to swarm early and get the Sharks out of the quarterfinals with the game two loss behind them, forgotten. The Kings could have Scott Parse back in action tonight, who's been hurt since November when he suffered a hip injury. His production will be questionable at this point, though. Still, he figures to support Justin Williams and the rest of the Kings in putting points on the board.
The Sharks have never lost a series when leading it 3-1, while the Kings have recovered from such a deficit only once. The puck drops tonight at 7:30 p.m., and the game will be on CSN California and the Versus network.
The San Jose Sharks, came out and played their game early, feeling out the Los Angeles Kings in the first period. Both teams were very evenly matched at that point, but perhaps emboldened by their comeback in game three (recovering from a four-goal deficit to score five goals in the second period and win the game in overtime via a Devin Setoguchi goal) they came out in the second period with guns blazing. Actually, the Kings did. Alec Martinez got the first goal in the game, unfortunately it was in his own net and the goal was given to Ryane Clowe, who was right in the thick of things.
That's all it took for the Sharks, who came back less than two minutes later for another goal. Martinez was the initial culprit for the Kings again, as he tipped it to Logan Couture, who puts it on the net while Jason Demers sneaks up on the left side, tapping it in with no resistance to make it a two-goal lead. The play in-between all of these moments is largely balanced, and the Kings actually get some good traction going, but Antti Niemi makes some great saves to keep the Sharks ahead.
At 6:00, Matt Greene is called on a hi-sticking penalty, and he draws blood from Scott Nichol, giving the Sharks a four minute power play. The Kings kill the first two minutes, but Clowe strikes again off a Couture rebound to make it a three-goal lead. At this point, Niclas Wallin makes a horrible play for San Jose, sitting in his own zone and all by himself, he flicks it down the ice into the Kings zone, and more accurately, right to Brad Richardson with no Sharks around him. Ryan Smyth puts the puck on net and Richardson circles around it, putting it in behind an out-of-position Niemi. The miscues continued for the Sharks, as Marc-Edouard Vlasic decided he was jealous of Martinez and put the puck in his own goal, which is given to Justin Williams. In Vlasic's defense, he played position well and was just out of place.
That ended things in the second period, and the Sharks went into the third with a 3-2 lead. They weren't content, and jump-started things with a two goals in the first four minutes, each within a minute of eachother. Kyle Wellwood fed Joe Thornton right in front of the net and Jonathan Quick can't get there fat enough. On one of the following faceoffs, Joe Pavelski wins it, feeds it to Dan Boyle, who puts it in front of the net and Pavelski directs it in to give them a 5-2 lead. The remaining two goals were from Torrey Mitchell and Jack Johnson, respectively. All credit to Johnson, his shot from the point had no chance of being blocked, it was a beauty that went in just under the top bar. Niemi never saw it coming. It may actually have been redirected in by Alexei Ponikarovsky.
Niemi stopped 35 shots, while Quick only managed to make 21. San Jose once again dominated faceoff numbers, winning them 38-26. There were two separate occasions with 5-on-3 play, and the Sharks did have another 4-on-4 goal.
The Sharks lead the series 3-1 and head back to HP Pavilion to hopefully get things done in five games.
The San Jose Sharks recovered from a four-goal deficit to send game three of their quarterfinal series into overtime, where Devin Setoguchi lifted the Sharks to a 6-5 win over the Los Angeles Kings. It was an overtime period that was very back-and-forth, with neither team giving up the neutral zone, exchanging breakaways and attacking shifts that lasted only one shot before going back the other way. Finally, Patrick Marleau took the puck up the left side, dished it to Setoguchi, who buried it for the win at 3:09.
The Kings got things started fast, scoring twice in the first three minutes of play. Nobody on the Sharks seemed to care, they moved slow and sluggish, they didn't even look like they made any effort at all to stop the second score. They did appear to come alive afterward though, after Niclas Wallin was called for a hi sticking penalty and was given a double minor, the Sharks nullified the full four minutes of Los Angeles' power play. They got their own power play shortly after, but it was one of their more uninspired efforts thus far in the playoffs. Dan Boyle got the night started badly, passing the puck right to Michal Handzus, who politely thanked him before slamming the puck past goalie Antti Niemi for the third Kings goal of the period. Willie Mitchell and Kyle Clifford grabbed goals one and two, respectively.
When the second period began, the Sharks opted to keep Niemi in, and it was a mistake. Ian White turns it over much like Boyle did to Handzus previously, and Brad Richardson buried it past Niemi to go up four goals to none. At that point, the Sharks made the goalie change to Antero Niittymaki. Niemi finished having given up four goals on only ten shots. Something about the goalie change gave the Sharks a boost though, and they started playing strong.
Joe Thornton (who had an otherwise abysmal game, with more than a couple turnovers) dished it to Dan Boyle, who put the puck on net, where Patrick Marleau was waiting to tap it in, putting the Sharks on the board. This set the Sharks on a three-goal streak that saw Ryane Clowe get one of his two goals, the first one on a power play and Logan Couture take a feed from White to bring the Sharks within one at 4-3.
Los Angeles, to their credit, didn't just roll over. Less than half a minute after the Sharks made it 4-3, Ryan Smyth beat Niittymaki to make it 5-3. But the last couple minutes, everything we knew and understood went out the window. The Sharks started absolutely dominating play, hitting hard and at one point, had the Kings players skating in concentric circles, unable to follow the puck that eventually made its way from Dany Heatley, to Boyle and to Clowe, when Clowe sunk it in. With under a minute left to play, Joe Pavelski put the puck into the net as well, taking it into the third period.
It was a horrible first period, an amazing second period that saw the Sharks set a franchise record for goals scored in a period, and a third period that was very balanced both ways and left neither team's fanbase overly confident heading into overtime. No goals were scored in the frame, and both teams seemed too scared to go out of their way to produce some sort of offense.
Expect more expanded thoughts on this game tomorrow, but suffice to say that the Kings should be affected mentally by this kind of defeat, squandering a four goal lead at home and going down 2-1 in the series.
According to CSN’s Brodie Brazil, Ian White will play tonight returning to the lineup after being driven into the boards by Kings center Jarret Stoll in the opening salvos of game one. Stoll, who was suspended a game for the hit by the NHL’s Disciplinary Committee, will also return to the lineup for the Kings:
Ian White is in tonight, coach not disclosing how rest of lineup will shake out. Justin Braun one of the last off the ice at skate.
Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan also hinted that further lineup changes may be en route for his club, a likely response to the 4-0 shellacking San Jose suffered at the hands of Los Angeles during game two on Saturday night. Since Braun was the last off the ice at the morning skate, a historically strong indication that the player in question would not be playing that night, it’s likely that those lineup changes are being looked at in the forward department.
Jamal Mayers saw 8:24 of ice time during game two, and Ben Eager also saw a drop to 7:19. It’s likely that these are the two potential casualties McLellan is considering, especially when one considers that Mayers (who is seen as a defensive forward) only saw 0:24 of SH TOI on Saturday and Ben Eager took a costly slashing penalty in the first period that resulted in the first Kings goal of the game.
Well, it's not necessarily true that one should be feeling great and totally confident after a 4-0 loss to a team that was supposed to be defensively strong and not much else, but it's worth noting that a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Kings was never a realistic goal for the San Jose Sharks. Other teams will look at it that way, when they consider just how good the Sharks are and how much of a threat they can be to teams like the Vancouver Canucks and Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference. How are they still a threat after losing 4-0 in what was, quite frankly, an embarrassing outing?
The Kings play a style that is tailor-made the drag extra games out of a series with the Sharks. It was never meant to be a sweep, though it would have been nice. There isn't room to make excuses, though - the Sharks got beat - but there's no shame in winning a series in five, six or seven games, and that's what the Sharks have their eyes set on. Following game two, head coach Todd McLellan expressed his desire for the team to be be a little angry at what went down. After watching film on the matter, it was confirmed all around: they know they didn't play well at all, they know that there wasn't more than one or two good things to take from the game two, and knowing this team, they know what they need to do to adjust.
Everything seemed just a little bit off in game two, with some fine-tuning, they should be good to go for game three. They need to recapture the aggressiveness of the first period of game one, without the inconsistency of the second period of the same game. They need a balanced, aggressive attack, and they need to work together as a team. Joe Pavelski made statements about players trying to get things done on their own in the postgame, and it's something to definitely consider. In game one, when Logan Couture broke away for the shorthanded goal that eventually missed, wrapped around and gave Los Angeles a 3-on-1, that's something that can be prevented.
A smart, calculated, aggressive and team-oriented attack is what the Sharks need. They have to come out, get ahead, and then isolate players like Justin Williams and Drew Doughty. They need to get to Jonathan Quick as fast as they can, and not allow him to lock up and became a wall, challenged for every puck. One key thing they need to do is just not be so tentative, which ties in with the aggressiveness. They really did control the puck well and keep it away from the rather greedy Los Angeles forwards, but they just sat there with it and didn't turn it into shots-on-goal.
Either way, we're in for a good one, folks. Play resumes tonight at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles at 7:30 p.m. pacific. We'll have live tweeting, live updates and a recap for the game, which will be shown on CSN California.
The scope of the opening quarterfinals round to the 2011 NHL Playoffs has not really changes since the first update went up on the matter a few days ago. The teams that were favored to win, were mostly getting things done and beating the teams they were supposed to be beating. The biggest threats for the Sharks, according to Vegas, continue to win their games as they did from the get-go. Let's take a look at how things are shaping up thus far.
Well, this team is most definitely for real, despite the fact that games two and three were won by one goal, going up 3-0 on the defending champions has to mean something. The Canucks are favored to win it all, and that trend is likely to continue until they show some form of weakness.
The final scores have been similar throughout the series, but it's very clear from watching that the Red Wings are the superior team, dominating from start-to-finish. They remain a huge threat to any team in the NHL. They're looking to wrap this up in four games.
Everybody has said that the Predators are one of the most dangerous "lower seeds" in the playoffs. Sharks fans wanted no part of them when there was the possibility of being matched up with them in the first round. They're showing it by taking the lead over the Ducks, and are favored to bounce them out in the first round.
The Rangers came back to win 3-2 in game three and have officially made this a series. The Capitals have been billed as the second likeliest team to win, and a Rangers series win would be a huge upset at this point. Would be nice for San Jose if the Capitals could be eliminated right away.
The Sabres took an early upset lead, but the Flyers have bounced back nicely with two dominating wins. Going forward, people are expecting the Flyers to add two more straight at this point, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Sabres came back in this one.
Another upset special, the Canadiens were simply getting better goaltending out outlasting the Bruins through two games, but the Bruins did respond nicely in game three, so we do have ourselves a series at this point.
This series could go either way, as the Penguins have won their two games by a very close, one-goal margin, while the Lightning blew them out 5-1 in their game two victory. Toss a coin and call it, but the smart pick is to stick with Pittsburgh.
Having to defend six power plays did not help the San Jose Sharks one bit. Three of them came in the first period, and off them, two goals. Ben Eager was called on a slashing penalty and the Kings were out on their first power play of the game, which would lead to their first goal of the game, when Ryan Smyth screened Antti Niemi perfectly and Jack Johnson smacked one in almost effortlessly. Niemi never saw the puck.
Ryane Clowe didn't help things much, getting called on an elbowing penalty (and shortly after, a a cross checking penalty) that led to Joe Thornton making a big error which, coupled with slacking play at the top of the zone for the Sharks, led to a Drew Doughty goal. With the power play almost killed, Thornton decided to circle back into San Jose's zone instead of clearing it out in an effort to take up more power play time. All it took was a giveaway, and Doughty struck for the first time of the night. In the second period, Doughty got his second goal of the game when he circled to the point and let loose with a rocket to the net that Niemi had no chance to stop.
You can bill that one as Thornton's second mistake of the game, as he had all the time in the world to get in the shooting lane and prevent that, but he didn't even attempt to do so and at that point it was a 3-0 game. Kyle Clifford would eventually score in the third, assisted by Doughty, who was in on all four goals on the night, with two goals and two assists. Jonathan Quick had a great night, stopping all 34 shots that went his way.
They probably could have told Quick to play blindfolded and the Kings would have won, as it felt like Los Angeles was blocking more shorts with their defense than their goalie himself. Every single time a puck was near, the Kings capitalized with stellar stick play. As a contrast to that, the Sharks sort of coasted their way through the game, not fighting for the puck and not going for scoring opportunities. The word "tentative" was heard a lot through the game, and it's apt. They did a good job of controlling the puck in the LA zone, but all they could do was pass it back and forth, they didn't get shooting opportunities, let alone scoring opportunities.
The series shifts to Los Angeles and game three will take place on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
The San Jose Sharks went ahead and committed another two penalties in the second period, but they did have tow successful penalty kills. Unfortunately, Drew Doughty struck at even strength, in the Sharks zone he circled up to the point with the puck, turned and fired off a rocket that Antti Niemi had no chance to stop. The first power play came right at the beginning of the period, when Jason Demers was called for a delay of game, but icing and offsides penalties against Los Angeles worked in the Sharks' favor.
For the second power play, the Sharks had a bit of luck go their way as Drew Doughty broke his stick trying to put the puck in front of the net and it set up a shorthanded opportunity for Joe Pavelski, who charged the net and drew a tripping penalty from Dustin Brown to make it a 4-on-4 for a short time. The Sharks dominated that 4-on-4, and then looked good for their portion of the power play, but failed to get a puck past Jonathan Quick.
Joe Thornton is having a particularly bad game, being the catalyst for the first power play goal in the first when he made the mistake to hold onto the puck instead of clearing it down the ice and also failing to get in the shooting lane of Drew Doughty for his second period goal. Thornton saw Doughty and saw the setup, but didn't get himself in the way with it and is generally lacking hustle through two periods - but so is the rest of the team.
The Kings are up 3-0 and if the Sharks want to get back into this, they absolutely have to turn up the pace. This level of play will only serve to give the Kings more confidence going forward.
The San Jose Sharks were forced to try and kill three penalties in the first period against the Los Angeles Kings, but they were only successful once. Ben Eager was called for slashing on Jack Johnson and that set up a Kings power play that was mostly even and balanced until Ryan Smyth screened Antti Niemi perfectly while Johnson slammed one in that the Sharks' goalie didn't even see. The Sharks, to their credit, responded with strong, aggressive play with a couple scoring opportunities from both Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski, but Ryane Clowe throws an elbow and gets two minutes, setting up another power play.
They had the second power play mostly killed, but a rookie mistake from team captain Joe Thornton gave the Kings time to put together another scoring opportunity. When he should have been just clearing the puck away, he took it and circled back, trying to kill time, and that led to a giveaway and soft play sitting on the point for San Jose gave Drew Doughty all the time he needed to sink one in the net to give the Kings a 2-0 lead.
Clowe struck again with just over two minutes left in the period, getting called for another two-minute minor with a cross check on Drew Doughty. This power play, however, was killed by the Sharks. When they weren't in penalty kill mode, the Sharks did look good out there though. The Kings had the edge in aggressiveness and were very active with their sticks. Niclas Wallin and Justin Braun held the zone well, and solid passing throughout allowed San Jose to keep the puck in the Los Angeles zone for a good portion of time, but they're just not getting the shooting and scoring opportunities they need.
The Sharks announced Ian White will be officially unavailable for game two tonight after sustaining an upper body injury caused by a blindside hit to the head by Kings forward Jarret Stoll in the first period of game one.
The NHL suspended Stoll following the incident.
White put to rest the fears of a severe concussion this morning, stating that he hopes to be healthy enough to play in game three on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
“I don’t have blinding headaches or anything. Something just feels a little off and you need to give it time to heal,” White said. “It’s fortunate that it’s not going to knock me out for the rest of the postseason. Hopefully I’ll just miss this one game.”
Replacing White will either be rookie defenseman Justin Braun or veteran defenseman Kent Huskins. Huskins has been out of the lineup with an undisclosed injury since February 22nd but it appears he is healthy enough to warrant consideration to play. Braun is a good puck-moving defenseman who has improved immensely in his defensive end as the season has gone along, making him this author’s likely candidate to replace White.
McLellan didn’t show his hand this morning as to who he would dress. The announcement will come closer to game time, a typical ploy by Head Coaches to give opposing team’s less time to formulate their game plan.
It's pretty clear what the game plan was for the San Jose Sharks going into game one against the Los Angeles Kings: score early, maintain offensive output, limit mistakes that could lead to offensive capitalization from a mostly defensive team and most likely to isolate Justin Williams defensively. As to their execution of these points, the results are definitely varied, but they came out with a win and that's what matters at this point. They're up 1-0, and the gameplan should remain largely the same. The key to each game was to jump out to a 1-0 lead, and the key to the series is the same: a 1-0 lead.
Tonight, they'll host them for game two at HP Pavilion. In game one, they scored only 28 seconds into the opening frame, if they can do that again, they'll be in good shape. The aggressiveness in the first period was very key, and it's the only reason they were able to fin. Against a team as strong defensively as Los Angeles, they absolutely had to keep the aggressiveness. The only problem with that is finding the balance and not getting over-aggressive, which is just what they did on the third penalty kill of the night, when Logan Couture went on a breakaway and missed wide of the net, setting up a Kings' 3-on-1 that led to a Dustin Brown score. If Couture doesn't make that ... quite frankly, rookie mistake, then the Sharks win that game a bit more comfortably than having to resort to overtime heroics from Joe Pavelski.
The other key is limiting mistakes that lead to Justin Williams' goal. When you're dealing with a defensive team like Los Angeles, you have to isolate the outliers - the guys who can really contribute on offense and be game changers - and Williams very much fits that mold. When Douglas Murray got mixed up behind the San Jose net and left the puck open for Williams, that was all it took. He grabbed the puck and tucked it neatly into the net and Antti Niemi was none the wiser.
Likely without defenseman Ian White after the hit from Jarret Stoll (who is suspended for game two), it will be even harder for the Sharks to find and sustain that balance throughout the entirety of a hockey game. They lost a lot of rhythm in the second period of play, but did pick it up in the third, only to get dominated for a large portion of overtime. At times they looked tired and run ragged, but they should be better prepared to go without White at this point.
There's not much else to say about this matchup - lineups should remain largely the same, minus Ian White and Jarrett Stoll. Dan Boyle will get even more minutes, which is alarming and hopefully White can return sooner rather than later. Boyle doesn't need to be out there for as long as he was in game one. The game begins at 7:00 p.m. and will be broadcast on CSN California.
Well, our own San Jose Sharks are out to a 1-0 lead over the Los Angeles Kings in the quarterfinals of the 2011 NHL Playoffs. That's the good news for Sharks fans in the Bay Area and everywhere else. The bad news is the fact that the teams that the other teams that are favored to be winning and should be winning their games ... are doing so. It's very early, but there's not many first round upsets on the horizon, and it's looking like the teams ahead of San Jose on the betting odds are marching on, up one or two games a piece. There's still plenty of room for upsets to be made, and they obviously cannot overlook the Kings after such a hard-fought overtime win, but for now we'll look at how the other matchups are progressing.
The Canucks are the biggest threat in the whole playoffs, and they're showing it by taking down Chicago twice in a row. Both games have been good, and the Blackhawks didn't look totally lost in game two, which is fortunate for them going forward. As it stands though, the Canucks are favored to win it all and they're showing that. Vegas has the Canucks beating the Sharks in the Western Conference finals. It wouldn't be a total loss if the Blackhawks couldn't mount a comeback though, as defending champions they are one of the most dangerous eight seeds in recent memory. Flashbacks to the Blackhawks sweeping the Sharks in four games of the finals last year come to mind.
Detroit had a dominating win over Phoenix in their first game, and are set to play again tonight. They killed six power plays over the course of the game, and look to be on their way to a series win. The Coyotes were the team that most Sharks fans wanted in the first round .. thinking Detroit continues on their path of destruction.
Neither team has looked bad in this series, and it wouldn't be surprising if it went to seven games. Each has won a game apiece, but the Predators have looked more consistent and dominant in these wins. Most folks consider the Predators as a team to watch out for, as they can be fantastic at their best, so an Anaheim win seems the most desirable.
Most expected Washington to be blowing out the Rangers, but that hasn't been the case thus far. The Capitals are still winning though, by one goal in game one and two goals in the second. The Capitals are just behind the Canucks in Vegas as far as winning the whole thing goes, so the Sharks will be hoping for a Rangers comeback, as will the rest of the teams in the playoffs.
Here's an upset, as the Flyers were heavy favorites to take this one. But both teams played a strong game and the Sabres found themselves scoring first, and that's all it took, a 1-0 victory to go up 1-0 on the series. That will resume tonight in Philly as the Flyers look to even the score.
This one also resumes tonight, and it's also a mild upset. Although, things were supposed to be pretty even in this regard. Montreal's Carey Price came out ahead over Boston's Tim Thomas, in a goalie matchup that will continue to make headlines as the series progresses. They're two of the leagues best, and you can expect at least one more of those shutouts.
The Penguins took the first matchup in dominating fashion, winning a 3-0 shutout, but the Lightning responded on the road with a 5-1 victory of their own, highlighting the fact that this will be a very exciting series. Play resumes on Monday for game three as the teams travel to Tampa Bay.
Multiple sources are confirming that Jarrett Stoll of the Los Angeles Kings has been suspended for one game by the NHL for an illegal hit to San Jose Sharks defenseman Ian White. David Pollak of the Mercury News reported the suspension that most were expecting first. There was immediate speculation that the hit would require disciplinary action by just about everyone at all involved with the game. CSN California's commentary team immediately talked about the no-call on the hit, and Twitter was going strong about how Colin Campbell would not like the hit.
The hit occurred in the first period of play, and the Sharks seemed stretched thin when White did not return for the remainder of the game. White didn't require a trip to the hospital, but head coach Todd McLellan isn't particularly optimistic about White's return for Saturday's game. He didn't skate on Friday, but they are not yet ruling him out.
Stoll will miss Saturday's game two at HP Pavilion as the Kings try and even the score, already down one game with an overtime loss on Thursday. Below is the video of the hit (uploaded by Fel0096)
Joe Pavelski notched his third playoff overtime goal to give the Sharks a 3-2 overtime victory in game one of the quarterfinals in the 2011 NHL Playoffs. It was an overtime period in which the Sharks were stretched thin and clearly tired out, while the Los Angeles Kings seemed to have all the energy in the world to keep going. Defeseman Ian White went down in the first period after being slammed into the boards on a questionable no-call in which White's head slammed and bounced into the boards. He didn't return to the game, and the overtime period was going the Kings' way.
It started well initially, with the Sharks and Kings exchanging scoring chances, but Los Angeles eventually built up the minutes in San Jose's zone, and every second was a heart attack. It was a game that went both ways, with the Sharks dominating the first period, out-shooting the Kings 14-3. When the second period came along, it was all Los Angeles, who out-shot the Sharks and closed the total to 23-19 in favor of San Jose. The third period, mercifully, was edged out by San Jose, but they failed to create a scoring opportunity. It was a fast, aggressive and emotional game in which these two longtime rivals were finally able to bring the heat against one another on the biggest stage.
San Jose had the gameplan to come into this game and score early, and they did: 28 seconds in, Ryane Clowe and White helped Dany Heatley put the puck into net. The rest of the period was dominated by Sharks scoring opportunities. A huge mistake from Logan Couture in the second period led to the Kings' first goal. Couture had broken away on an overly aggressive penalty kill and missed his shot on net, wheeling it around the back of the net and right to Justin Williams, who fed it to Dustin Brown, and Antti Niemi couldn't make the save. It was a 3-on-1 opportunity that occurred solely because of Couture's mistake.
He made up for it though, blowing past a hip-checking Drew Doughty to force the puck in between Jonathan Quick and the post to give the Sharks the lead. Shortly after in the second period though, Williams had a solo goal when Douglas Murray made a mistake behind the San Jose net. A scoreless third took them into overtime.
Antti Niemi was the star for the Sharks despite Pavelski's game-winning goal, making several fantastic saves, including one in which he robbed Kyle Clifford going post-to-post to get in front of the puck. He finished with 33 saves, while Jonathan Quick of the Kings finished with 42 of his own. While the Kings were getting all the opportunities in overtime, they were largely blocked by a team effort from San Jose, while the Kings relied heavily on Quick coming out to meet the puck and laying down on about half of them.
Still no news on Ian White, but there is buzz that there could be disciplinary action against Jarrett Stoll for the hit, and both certainly factor into the series going forward. Williams, in his first game back with the Kings since March, had a goal an assist, while Ryane Clowe, who missed some time for the Sharks, had an assist on all three goals. The two teams will meet again for game two of the quarterfinals series on Saturday.
Kyle Clifford had a huge chance that Antti Niemi robbed him of early on in the third period. Niemi went post to post to get himself in front of it as the Kings had a 2-on-1. What followed was fifteen minutes of play that was largely balanced, with the Sharks seeming to get more opportunities by holding the puck in the Los Angeles zone and putting more shots on goal. The period wasn't necessarily uneventful, but both teams were very evenly matched and the edge barely goes to the Sharks in regards to keeping up the pressure, but they didn't get things done.
With two minutes left, Drew Doughty, one of the Kings' best players on the penalty kill, gets two minutes for tripping and the Sharks got their second power play of the night. The Kings were able to clear it out multiple times, Devin Setoguchi had the best opportunities on the attack, but the Kings were able to fend it off and as the power play came to an end, the period also came to an end.
So at 2-2 all, we're heading to an overtime period. Jonathan Quick will need to do a double take, there's no shootout for him tonight, this one goes until we've got a winner on overtime.
A vastly improved team came out of the Los Angeles Kings locker room, as they fought back from a 1-0 deficit to tie it at one all, then again to tie it at 2-2 after the San Jose Sharks got ahead again, and finally, finished the period dominating play in San Jose's zone. After being outshot in the first period, the Kings came back to outshoot San Jose 16-9 in the second. The Kings did a better job of sustaining attack in the Sharks zone throughout the period.
The first goal of the period came on the power play, when San Jose took advantage of two breakaway opportunities, but played it too aggressive and a shot wide from Logan Couture wrapped around the goal and turned into a 3-on-1. Justin Williams took the puck into San Jose's zone and dished it to Dustin Brown, beating Antti Niemi, who was otherwise solid throughout the period.
It was a big mistake for Couture, but he made up for it by flying past Drew Doughty, giving a beautiful deke to avoid the hip check and slipped the puck in between the post and Jonathan Quick to put the Sharks back up 2-1. The Kings answered back though, and a mistake behind the San Jose goal led to Justin Williams snagging a lose puck and getting a goal on his own to go with his assist. Ryane Clowe picked up his second assist of the game on the Couture shot.
The San Jose Sharks are still ahead on shots, leading the Kings 23-19 in that regard, but the final two minutes of play were wholly dominated by the Kings, who had several opportunities to score, but the Sharks just squeaked by. They'll need to shake that off heading into the third.
The San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings are both playing a good first period of hockey thus far, but the Sharks get the edge in aggressiveness and just about everything else. Ryane Clowe got things started in his first game back, thirty seconds into the game he put the puck on net and Dany Heatley came in to put it in off the rebound behind Jonathan Quick and the Sharks jumped on to an early one goal lead. Ian White also notched the assist on that one. The key coming into this game was to score early and keep the crowd in this one, and that's what they did.
Both teams exchanged possession quite often throughout the frame, but it was San Jose who managed to make the most out of the times they had the puck. The end of the period though, things picked up and both teams had good chances. Matt Greene had the only real chance for the Kings, late in the period he got the turnover off of Patrick Marleau, but Antti Niemi's glove hand was too much for it. Immediately following that, the Sharks, led by Kyle Wellwood, had three subsequent opportunities that Quick was ... well, he was quick to fend off.
Clowe went to the penalty box on a really soft roughing call with around four minutes remaining in the period. The commentators were complaining about it for some time, but the Sharks responded with as much aggression as I've ever seen, getting the puck out of the zone once, twice, three times and it's a successful kill. The Kings are 0-2 on the power play with no shots on goal during. Speaking of shots on goal, the Sharks lead that category 14-3.
Late in the period, White was hit from behind (without the puck) by Jarrett Stoll up against the boards, an absolutely brutal hit that should have been called. He specifically targeted White's head and even looked back at him right in his face while he pushed his head further into the boards - White's head bounced. They didn't call it though, and White headed to the locker room. Ben Eager took things into his own hands and got into a fight almost instantly with Kyle Clifford, and gets the edge in the fight with a couple great right hands. After play started, Douglas Murray hit a defender in the neutral zone, and hit him again when he stood up, as the period came to an end. White had previously made a good play to keep the puck in the zone on the power play, as he fell down he kicked the puck away from the Kings player to prevent a breakaway.
The score is 1-0 heading into the second period, and the Sharks are looking like a much better team than the Kings at this point, but we've still got two periods of play to go. Join us over at Fear The Fin for the in-game thread.
The 2011 NHL Playoffs got started on Wednesday, and everybody who was supposed to win, did win. Now, the San Jose Sharks will get their quarterfinal series started when they host the Los Angeles Kings for game one of a best-of-seven series. Last year, the Sharks were bounced in the Western Conference finals against the Chicago Blackhawks after rolling through the Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings in the quarters and semis. The run did a lot to erase the perception of "choking" around the league for San Jose, but the 4-0 sweep from Chicago was not fun by any means, and not acceptable for a team that's been so close for so long.
They found themselves so close in 2010, and then when this 2010-2011 season started, things started going horribly wrong for a moment there. One wondered if the conference finals were the top of the mountain for the Sharks, as they failed to string together wins, and then eventually found themselves at a point where they were dropping six straight games. For the first time in years, Sharks fans had a reason to doubt whether or not their team would actually make the playoffs, after being a fixture for so long.
Yeah ... about that.
San Jose, on the back of players like Patrick Marleau, Devin Setoguchi, and rookie sensation Logan Couture, turned things around and rattled off five-and-eight-game winning streaks. Marleau put up the production (73 points) that you expect out of him at this point, while Couture notched 32 goals as a rookie. Perhaps bigger than all of that, though, was the play of goalie Antti Niemi. When the season began, the Sharks envisioned a tandem of Niemi and Antero Niittymaki, and it was an alright rotation at first, Niittymaki looked better than Niemi early on, but injuries thrust "Nemo" into the starting role.
35-18-6 was Niemi's final mark, including a monster stretch where he had something like six thousand wins and zero losses. In a row. It happened. Either way, goalie is a strength for San Jose as it stands, and it should going forward, as Niemi was signed to a four-year contract extension.
Now how about Los Angeles? They're a balanced team with great defense, a great goaltender, and a few players who can turn up offensive production at any point in any game. Their problem? Their top two offensive guys have been out with injuries, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams, respectively. They both went down in March, Kopitar with an ankle injury that required surgery, and Williams with a dislocated shoulder. Williams remains a possibility to return for the playoffs, though. Kopitar won't be back until next season.
Last season, the Kings were bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Vancouver Canucks. Jonathan Quick struggled in that first round, sporting a 3.50 GAA, as the Kings fell 4-2. The Kings will have to stick to their game of playing good defense, which might be an understatement. Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson (along with the aforementioned Quick) spearheaded a Los Angeles defense that was good for 85.5 percent on the penalty kill (fourth in the league) and allowed only 198 goals all season, good for fifth in the league.
These two teams split their meetings this season, though San Jose got all three of their wins in regulation, whereas the Kings relied on the shootout twice - something they won't be able to do for this playoff series. In fact, Jonathan Quick was 10-0 in shootouts, and that's a big factor going forward. If he can't hold on to his leads in regulation, he loses, and that's the bottom line. When it comes to a team that plays good defense that often leads to stalemates versus a team that thrives on offense all over it's lines, the team with the offense should prevail given long enough to do so, without having to worry about the shootout.
Both goalies have good showings in the series, Niemi going 2-1-2 with a 1.94 GAA, while Quick went 3-2-0 with a 2.19 GAA. Marleau, Setoguchi and Joe Pavelski had three goals apiece, while the likely-to-return Justin Williams had none. Dustin Brown had four goals over the series for the Kings.
So it's all very simple: the Sharks need to come out and score fast, they need to be on the board first, and then they can take advantage of potential lapses in defense from the Kings while they try and compensate. If Los Angeles gets on the board first, it will very much be an uphill battle as they tighten up defensively.
We're underway, the 2011 NHL Playoffs are beginning as this post is being prepared. The Stanley Cup is one of the hardest trophies to get year in and year out, and everybody is excited, as they should be. SB Nation went ahead and put together their very own 2011 NHL Playoff Bracket. You can follow that and get updated as we get through the quarterfinals and onwards to the Stanley Cup. The second page (just scroll down, confused folks) will show you the SB Nation blogs for each team, so you can go and discuss the goings-on with your favorite fans, or perhaps engage in some light trash talk ... but don't tell them we told you to.
The San Jose Sharks get things started against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday, and will be working to move right across that particular bracket. As noted earlier, they're at least favored to make it two places into the conference finals, but the Vancouver Canucks are the ones that Vegas believes will make it all the way across.
There's two big injury situations that matter heading into game one of the 2011 NHL Playoffs quarterfinal matchups between the San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings. The good thing for both teams is the fact that the first game starts on Thursday as opposed to Wednesday, so each team will get more time to rehabilitate their guys. San Jose has been without Ryane Clowe for the past three games, and only had him for less than three minutes in a game against the Kings on April 4th, but he now appears to be ready to play and get things done for San Jose, having taken part in full practices and came out fine afterward.
It's a good thing that he's coming back, Clowe brings a lot to the ice on any given night. He can create scoring opportunities, and he can play good defense. His fellow teammates have expressed their excitement about possibly seeing him return on Thursday, talking about how Clowe is built for playoff-type hockey. Clowe is physical and hard-nosed, he won't give up any quarter that isn't fought for and earned, and over the course of four-to-seven games, he's the kind of player who wears on another team. Having Clowe back unquestionably makes San Jose a better team.
The Los Angeles Kings, though, will be without Anze Kopitar, who has been out since late March. Kopitar is their top guy, great on offense, and they are definitely hurt without him. Los Angeles remains a strong defensive team without him, which will change their gameplan significantly, but it could end up turning out better for LA than most were expecting. Justin Williams has been out with a dislocated shoulder recently, but he also has just went through a full practice and plans to again on Tuesday. His status is up in the air as it stands, but if he can go and feel good, he'll be a problem for the Sharks. A decision likely won't be made on Williams until Wednesday afternoon, or even just before the puck drops on Thursday.
The San Jose Sharks are taking on the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the 2011 NHL Playoffs. It will be the first time the two teams meet in the playoffs, and the first battle between California teams in quite some time. They'll get things kicked off on Thursday, April 14th at the HP Pavilion in San Jose. The full schedule for the Sharks' quarterfinal matchups against the Kings is below (Sharks times in pacific, rest are eastern):
#2 San Jose Sharks Quarterfinal Series Versus #7 Los Angeles Kings
Thursday, April 14th at San Jose, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 16th at San Jose, 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, April 19th at Los Angeles, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 21st at Los Angeles, 7:30 p.m.
*Saturday, April 23rd at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.
*Monday, April 25th at Los Angeles, TBD
*Wednesday, April 27th at San Jose, TBD
The asterisks obviously denote games that may or may not need to be played, as it's first to four, as always. What immediately comes to mind is the fact that Justin Williams may have a chance to recover in time to play game one for the Kings, and he is definitely a factor. Expect breakdowns of each game prior to their airing, any pertinent news, and of course recaps following the game. The rest of the quarterfinals are below:
Wednesday, April 13 at Vancouver, 10:00 p.m.
Friday, April 15 at Vancouver, 10:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 17 at Chicago, 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday, April 19 at Chicago, 8:00 p.m.
*Thursday, April 21 at Vancouver, 10:00 p.m.
*Sunday, April 24 at Chicago, 8:00 p.m.
*Tuesday, April 26 at Vancouver, TBD
#2 San Jose Sharks vs. #7 Los Angeles Kings
Thursday, April 14th at San Jose, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 16th at San Jose, 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, April 19th at Los Angeles, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 21st at Los Angeles, 7:30 p.m.
*Saturday, April 23rd at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.
*Monday, April 25th at Los Angeles, TBD
*Wednesday, April 27th at San Jose, TBD
Wednesday, April 13 at Detroit, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 16 at Detroit, 1:00 p.m.
Monday, April 18 at Phoenix, 10:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 20 at Phoenix, 10:30 p.m.
*Friday, April 22 at Detroit, 7:00 p.m.
*Sunday, April 24 at Phoenix, TBD
*Wednesday, April 27 at Detroit, TBD
Wednesday, April 13 at Anaheim, 10:30 p.m.
Friday, April 15 at Anaheim, 10:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 17 at Nashville, TBD
Wednesday, April 20 at Nashville, TBD
*Friday, April 22 at Anaheim, 10:00 p.m.
*Sunday, April 24 at Nashville, TBD
*Tuesday, April 26 at Anaheim, TBD
Wednesday, April 13 at Washington, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, April 15 at Washington, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 17 at New York, 3:00 p.m.
Wednesday, April 20 at New York, 7:00 p.m.
*Saturday, April 23 at Washington, 3:00 p.m.
*Monday, April 25 at New York, TBD
*Wednesday, April 27 at Washington, TBD
Thursday, April 14 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 16 at Philadelphia, 5:00 p.m.
Monday, April 18 at Buffalo, 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, April 20 at Buffalo, 7:30 p.m.
*Friday, April 22 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.
*Sunday, April 24 at Buffalo, 3:00 p.m.
*Tuesday, April 26 at Philadelphia, TBD
#3 Boston Bruins vs. #6 Montreal Candiens
Thursday, April 14 at Boston, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 16 at Boston, 7:00 p.m.
Monday, April 18 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 21 at Montreal, 7:00 p.m.
*Saturday, April 23 at Boston, 7:00 p.m.
*Tuesday, April 26 at Montreal, TBD
*Wednesday, April 27 at Boston, TBD
Wednesday, April 13 at Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m.
Friday, April 15 at Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m.
Monday, April 18 at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 20 at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
*Saturday, April 23 at Pittsburgh, TBD
*Monday, April 25 at Tampa Bay, TBD
*Wednesday, April 27 at Pittsburgh, TBD
A 6-0 win over the Dallas Stars gave them a playoff berth. Beating the Los Angeles Kings 6-1 gave them their sixth Pacific Division crown. Then, beating the Phoenix Coyotes 3-1 gave them the second seed in the Western Conference to end their 2010-2011 regular season. Now, the San Jose Sharks are entering the 2011 NHL Playoffs with their sights set on handing the Kings a couple more of those 6-1 beatdowns. Check out the previous story stream for more on how the Sharks got to this point with their last stretch of games.
We took a look at which teams would be preferable to face in the first round earlier on Sunday morning, as the Sharks could have ended up playing one of four teams (Nashville, Chicago, Los Angeles or Phoenix) depending on who won and how between the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks. Basically, either team winning in regulation would have been the preferable result, and that's what we got, as the Red Wings got the 4-3 win in regulation.
Los Angeles is locked into the seventh seed, and that means they'll face the Sharks no matter what. The last bit of action is going on as this stream is being prepared, as the Dallas Stars take on the Minnesota Wild. If the Stars win their game in regulation, the defending champion Blackhawks could miss the playoffs. While deliciously tasteful for those who love borderline irony, it might be a better scenario is the Stars lose so the number one seeded Vancouver Canucks can have a harder time against what many believe to be a better team in Chicago.
The playoff schedule will be released at 7:00 p.m. pacific and we'll have coverage of that, and this stream will take us through the series against the Los Angeles Kings with previews and recaps of each game on top of any and all commentary related to the Sharks 2010-2011 NHL Playoff race.
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