Six reasons Sharks knocked out Kings in Stanley Cup Playoffs
Why the Sharks ousted the Kings in the NHL postseason
For the first time since 2013 the Sharks have advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, beating the rival Kings in five intense, hard-fought games. Here are six reasons they were able to get past the two-time Stanley Cup champs…
1. Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns
The Sharks’ top goal-scorer in the regular season, Pavelski managed to score at least one goal in all four of the Sharks’ wins. He tallied the game-winner in Game 1 on a superb one-man effort, opened the scoring in Game 2, and added an important insurance marker late in Game 5. As for Burns, he tallied a series-leading eight points (2g, 6a) and fired 19 shots on goal. He had three assists in the clinching Game 5, including the primary helper on Joonas Donskoi’s game-winner.
2. Slow, battered Kings defense
Losing Alec Martinez in Game 1 was a huge blow to the Kings, forcing them to overplay Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin on a nightly basis. Guys like Luke Schenn and Rob Scuderi, in particular, were exposed as simply being too slow to keep up with the Sharks and their aggressive forecheck. In games four and five, the Kings’ lack of speed and depth on defense really showed.
3. No panic from DeBoer
No one would have blamed Pete DeBoer if he had made a change or two, or rearranged some of his forward lines after Game 3. The fourth line especially was struggling, taking six minor penalties in games two and three combined. DeBoer kept everything status quo, though, and the Sharks managed to play much better throughout the lineup in the final two games of the series. In Game 5, the depth players finally broke through on the scoresheet, keying the win.
4. Kings top players silenced
Despite averaging more than 30 minutes a game (or perhaps because of it), Drew Doughty had just one assist in the series and a minus-five rating. Tyler Toffoli, the Kings’ leading goal-scorer in the regular season, never found the back of the net and was also a minus-five with just one assist. Marian Gaborik didn't give the Kings the offensive boost they had hoped for after his Game 2 return from a knee injury, and offseason addition Milan Lucic didn’t get any goals, either.
5. Martin Jones outplays Jonathan Quick
If there was one main concern the Sharks had going into the series, it was facing the clutch Jonathan Quick with the unproven Martin Jones. Jones managed to outplay his former mentor, though, allowing 2.18 goals-per game with a .912 save percentage to Quick’s 3.04 GAA and .886 SP. Jones was at his best late in games with the Sharks protecting slim leads, never looking nervous or rattled. He may be more prepared to handle the highs and lows of the playoffs better than any goalie San Jose has had in the past.
6. Road resiliency
In 44 road games this season between the regular season and the playoffs, the Sharks have won a remarkable 31 of them, including all three on the road against the Kings. They didn’t let the first goal-against in Game 1 at Staples Center get them on their heels, and in Game 5, they kept their composure after the Kings erased a 3-0 lead. If the Ducks finish off the Predators on Monday, the Sharks will start the second round at Honda Center in Anaheim.