SAN JOSE -- During Tuesday morning’s live Facebook Q&A, the Sharks’ broadcasting contingent discussed who they think could be the difference-maker for San Jose in Game 7 against the Vegas Golden Knights. Radio play-by-play extraordinaire Dan Rusanowsky pointed to top-line center Logan Couture. Analyst Bret Hedican mentioned Erik Karlsson.
But what about an unsung hero? What about a player you wouldn’t expect to rise to the occasion? We already saw something similar in Game 5 when fourth-line center Barclay Goodrow scored San Jose’s third goal on the evening. Who could that skater potentially be in Game 7?
Hedican chose Finnish forward Joonas Donskoi to be that guy. “Couldn’t score at the end of the season, then he gets smoked in Game 6 and we didn’t think he was going to come back and play,” Hedican said, referencing the big hit Donskoi took in Game 6. Hedican also referenced the hard work Donskoi puts in after he has been demoted in the lineup or scratched. “He’s found a way to perform in big moments. He has the ability to dig down into his gut and make a play when it matters. So, I’m going to go with Joonas Donskoi.”
Jamie Baker, who knows a thing or two about scoring big goals in Game 7s, said he thinks a goal could come from somewhere more unexpected. “I’m going to pick Brenden Dillon,” Baker said, basing his choice after watching the series-clinching and game-winning overtime goal scored by Stars blueliner John Klingberg. “I look at the overtime goal from last night, it could be a point shot or something like that. A seeing-eye shot. So I’m going to take a guy like Brenden Dillon over a forward.”
Television play-by-play commentator Randy Hahn mentioned Kevin Labanc as his pick during the Facebook livestream, then added another name into the mix who he thinks could be the unsung hero -- fourth-line winger Melker Karlsson. "He throws himself around out there, he’s active, he’s got a knack,” Hahn said. “Karlsson’s a guy you can move up (the lineup) with some more skilled guys when it’s late in the game and there’s some fatigue.”
The Sharks likely will need their special teams to be firing on all cylinders if they’re going to take Game 7 from Vegas, and Karlsson is part of the penalty kill unit. “That’s sort of not a glamorous role, you don’t get as much credit being a penalty killer," Hahn added. "But it’s a really important role on the team. So he’s definitely one of those unsung players who is always in the lineup. Pete doesn’t scratch him. He’s one of his go-to guys.”