The San Jose Sharks faced their biggest test of the season on Monday night when a Los Angeles Kings hockey club that had won 6 straight came in to town. I wouldn’t give the Sharks an A+ in their 6-3 win, but an A-/B+ is well-deserving for what, I thought, was their most complete game to date and here’s why:
Response:In my last post, I talked about the success the Kings have enjoyed when scoring first – and they did just that. Instead of sitting back on their heels and allowing the Kings to take over, the Sharks responded with two quick goals before the 1st period concluded. After the strange situation where Smyth’s goal for the Kings was missed by the official and the Sharks’ Torrey Mitchell scored only to have his goal negated, San Jose found themselves up 3-2 instead of 4-1. This changed the texture of the hockey game and the Sharks played strong to regain their two goal lead early in the 3rd period. Again, after Jarret Stoll’s redirect to pull the Kings within a goal at 5-4, Dany Heatley scored just 43 seconds later. This is the type of mental engagement coach Todd McLellan wanted out of his team from the start of the season.
Meat and Potatoes Hockey: Monday was unusually warm in San Jose for November (damn Californians shouldn’t be complaining, I know) in the sense that it went from the low 60s – that’s fahrenheit for all our Canadian readers – to almost 80 degrees in about 24 hours. The temp change lead to some undesirable ice conditions that I immediately noticed when I arrived at HP – the ice was soft and pucks were bouncing. I thought the Sharks did a tremendous job at getting pucks deep focussing on a simple north/south game, especially from their third and fourth lines. Funneling pucks towards Jonathan Bernier resulted in the Sharks’ scoring opportunities that they were able to capitalize on.
Powerplay: LA’s top ranked penalty-killing enigma was cracked by San Jose going 2 for 3 on their chances and converting on their first two powerplays. Again, I talked about how capitalizing their powerplay chances would be crucial to the Sharks’ success and Patrick Marleau’s PPG turned out to be the eventual game-winner.
The Sharks seemed to have improved after each game during the 5-game home-stand they just completed which is momentum they need to continue to build on as they take on Colorado and Dallas in back-to-back road games in consecutive nights.
About the Author
Written by Alex Wasserstrom
Native Californian, former minor league pro, and current men's league superstar, Alex Wasserstrom is ProSportsBlogging.com's San Jose Sharks correspondent. Wanna talk puck? Shoot him an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or follow him on Twitter (@Awassers).