Welcome to the Stanley Cup playoffs, where unlikely heroes are made daily. Little known forward Zack Kassian, noted goon and marginally talented fourth line winger was a force on Friday night, almost single handedly beating San Jose in Game Two of this opening round.
If he wasn’t leveling Sharks players, he was scoring on a shorthanded goal that was the difference in a hard fought but frustrating game for the Sharks. San Jose had no answer (as usual) to heightened, hard nosed playoff checking and was not able to match the intensity of the younger, faster and more talented Oilers.
Edmonton took a page from past years playoff series where the opposing team beats on the Sharks and then dares San Jose to beat them on the power play. San Jose was 0 fer 6 with the man advantage, continuing to look out of sorts and befuddled by the Oilers penalty kill.
I don’t know if the directive comes down from on high or if San Jose doesn’t like to fight back when there are OBVIOUS transgressions by their opponents, but as a lifer Sharks fan I can tell you it happens way too often. The aforementioned Kassian left his feet to knock down Logan Couture. This is charging, no call by the refs and NO response from his teammates coming to his defense.
The refs gave San Jose plenty of chances and they were unable to make Edmonton pay. The Oilers will continue to play on the edge and push the envelope, as San Jose’s wretched power play fizzles.
As the Connor McDavid era opens to much fanfare, the darling of the NHL, scoring champion and game changer is a major force in every game and has burned the Sharks multiple times in the regular season. Last night was no different as he scored the Oiler’s second shorthanded goal of the game in the 3rd period, effectively icing the game for Edmonton.
Yes, that’s right, 6 chances to score on the man advantage and TWO goals for the other team. Shameless? Yes. Frustrating? Obviously. Where was the team from Wednesday that outhit, outskated and outplayed the Oilers in Game 1?
Nowhere to be found.
Game 3 on Sunday night. Sack up San Jose, play Michael Haley to give the Sharks a little jam and allow for a response to the physicality of the Oilers. Or better yet, how about a response from the Sharks leaders and pop Connor McDavid in the mouth?
I’m not advocating deliberately injuring a player, but do SOMETHING FUCKED UP back to the team that is bullying you. That’s how you win Cups. After all, isn’t that the point?