The San Jose Sharks have a chance to take their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series by the throat Tuesday, April 22. They embarrassed the Los Angeles Kings in the first two games to the tune of a 13-5 combined score and a Game 3 victory will likely pull the plug on this Pacific Division semifinals.
The Sharks have been saying all the right things about their rivals, from pointing out that blow-out wins count the same as overtime wins to reminding everyone that the St. Louis Blues were in the same position last year. The Kings came back to win the next four.
The reality is much different. All wins technically count the same, but the reality is that Los Angeles has only been even competitive for about a quarter of this series.
San Jose let up in the third period of Game 1 with a 5-0 lead of a long season. That is not a bad work ethic but the weakness of flesh, and the comeback during that time is meaningless to determining the competition over the rest of the Stanley Cup playoff matchup.
The last 10 minutes of Game 2 were even but also hardly competitive with a 7-2 lead. It did feature some nasty play to be expected when one Pacific Division rival dominates another, including a spearing of Logan Couture for which Pro Hockey Talk reported Monday that Mike Richards will not be suspended.
That leaves 100 other minutes of hockey, 75 of which have been dominated by the Sharks. In the first 10 minutes of Game 2, the Kings took a 2-0 lead by being opportunistic in a fairly even game. Their Pacific Division rivals were not even held off for 15 more minutes before the dam broke.
Before 20 minutes had passed from the second Los Angeles goal, the game was tied. San Jose grabbed the lead with over five minutes left in the second period, and blew the game wide open with five goals in the first 10:06 of the third.
The Sharks dominating 75 percent of two games is worse for the Kings than losing two one-goal games against the Blues. Only four teams in Stanley Cup playoff history have ever come from a 3-0 deficit to win a series, and it not going to happen for a team being dominated on the road.
This is a must-win game for Los Angeles, a team that has not even looked like it could compete. Yet there are three major reasons San Jose should still be worried about losing this series...