San Jose, CA
Here in the land of Los Tiburones, Sharks fans watch the Hawks/Kings Series with growing unease. Is it because the Kings suddenly look like the team to beat in the West? Rolling four lines, throwing young bucks into the fray like Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar on fire, and Jonathan Quick back on his game has Sharks fans thinking….maybe the Kings could win another Cup before we win our first?
Aside from obvious things like being outscored 10-5 in the last two games including six unanswered goals in game 2 and 3 straight in game three, quite frankly the Hawks are reeling and the Kings are well, they are using the same formula that saw them win two seven game series in a row. The formula is, dare the their opponent to beat them on the power play, while playing their gritty Dour Darryl Sutter style of defense and ride Quick’s big game mentality to the Stanley Cup Finals.
One thing not mentioned often is the offensive power house LA has become. The first three scoring leaders in the playoffs are Kings, the top two in plus/minus are Kings, and while Quick’s save percentage is way down the list, the stats are skewed by giving up 12 goals in two games to San Jose early in the first round. If you take those two games out of the equation, he is 10-5 and has given up 32 goals in 15 games. He has won two game sevens, completely shutting down the Sharks and Ducks in those contests.
He is just a big game goalie, no getting around it. He has faced almost 500 shots in those seventeen games, second only to Lundquist. But when you watch him play, especially late in the series, he is money with a lead and the other team knows they’re going to lose. Bold statement? I don’t think so, ask Joe Pavelski of the Sharks or Corey Perry of the Ducks. They have lots of time to answer questions right now. Grrrrrrrrrr, I hate him.
LA defense has been very good and they have been scoring key goals throughout the playoffs, especially in the Hawks series. Drew Doughty has 12 points and is a +6, Jake Muzzin 9 points and a +4, and Alex Martinez 7 points and a +3. You get the picture? Teams with D scoring are hard to beat, case closed.
Faceoff win % is yet another aspect of the Kings winning formula. Jarret Stool Sample and Anze Kopitar had FOWP of 63 and 71% respectively in game 2 and 57 and 58% in game three. Even their loss in the 1st game Stool (not a typo) had a 76.9% and Richards was 52%.
Hawks are in big trouble if they don’t win tonight. Michal Handzus is looking a day late and a dollar short against Stool in the faceoff circle. Toews is holding his own, but under 50% for the series. Team speed was supposed to be Chicago’s forte but the Kings Toffoli, Pearson and Jeff Carter are giving the Hawks D fits. Chicago has to find a way to carry the puck in against LA’s suffocating defense. Two teams are sitting at home that thought they could play dump and chase against the Kings D.
Of course, all this goes out the window if Captain Serious can pull off a victory in LA. If not the Hawks will be Stapled at Staples Center and wondering what happened.