As soon as people around the league saw the San Jose Sharks and their rival, the Los Angeles Kings, were set up for a first-round playoff matchup, the anticipation skyrocketed. These two teams don’t like each other at all, and it was expected to be a grueling, back-and-forth war.
Well, we’re two games in and this is looking more than a little one-sided.
After beating down the Kings 6-3 in Game 1, the Sharks upped the ante yesterday, rolling to the tune of 7-2. Los Angeles was up 2-0 in the first period, looking as though they were ready to counter-punch after their lopsided defeat in the opening game. Instead, San Jose scored seven unanswered goals, all allowed by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. After the game, L.A. captain Dustin Brown was asked his assessment of the brutal defeat.
“We got our [expletive] kicked pretty much,” Brown said, ensuring the team wasn’t going to try and find any positives.
Now, the Kings limp back home, down 2-0 in the series with Game 3 at the Staples Center on deck tomorrow night. Being outscored 13-5 in two games doesn’t leave a lot in terms of hope, but two straight Los Angeles wins and this series is all tied up. But, are they going to be able to rebound from consecutive convincing losses?
First of all, if they’re going to bounce back, they need to fix the glaring issues in net. Coming into the series, one wouldn’t think the Kings’ biggest issue would be the play of Quick. His numbers this season weren’t the best, but he’s a proven postseason performer. Instead, he’s been getting shelled. Concerns were raised after the first loss of the series, but after last night, you have to wonder how much longer Quick’s leash is. A rough opening period in Game 3 and coach Darryl Sutter might be forced to pull his netminder for good.
On top of this, the Kings badly need their stars to start showing up. Only three players on the team have scored this series, and none of them are named Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Justin Williams or any of the other usual suspects. Even worse, only one player on the entire roster has a positive plus/minus rating (defenseman Jake Muzzin). They’ve only had four power plays in two games, failing to convert on any of them. Meanwhile, they’ve given San Jose nine power plays so far. Though the Sharks have only cashed in on two of them, discipline is needed. The last thing a team struggling to keep pucks out of the net needs is more man-advantages for the opponent.
These are just a few big issues Los Angeles needs to figure out before the puck drops tomorrow night. Truly the only positive to take in so far is that they get a chance to return to home ice in attempts to regroup. Had they been drilled two straight games in L.A. and then have to go to San Jose, this would be considered all but over.
The Kings need to take advantage of some home cooking something awful. There’s still a chance to get this series evened up, but there’s also a lot that needs to be cleaned up in order to do so. If Game 3 turns out to be one more San Jose beat-down, Game 4 will be nothing but a formality.