The video titles this as Richards’ goal, but I’m still giving Slava the credit for it. As Kelsey Douglas has appropriately dubbed him Molten Slava, this man is coming up huge for us.
What a way to start the series. One would assume that San Jose would have come out swinging with the full week off that they had. Unfortunately for the guppies yet fortunately for us, the fish floundered. One might even say they drowned under the strength of Slava and Quick holding them under. (Someone call the Hoff to pull them out of the water!) Sutter made a few minor changes to the lines, mostly to the defensive pairings. Martinez/Muzzin, Doughty/Regehr, Scuderi/Voynov were tonight’s defensive pairings which opened up more offensive generation from the defensive players. While the Sharks did out shoot our boys by quite a bit, that doesn’t concern me. That’s common when the opposing team is down as they begin throwing everything at the net. 16 of their 35 shots were in the 3rd period and the prior two periods were much closer. Quick was absolutely brilliant tonight and San Jose just couldn’t “solve” him as they say.
Another note to take away tonight… Raffi Torres needs to be banned from the NHL. He’s been suspended before for dirty hits and he’d better be suspended for tonight’s play. He was obviously out there to bruise LA on the play, seen below. After his linemate threw a questionable hit directly in the square of Doughty’s back, Torres then nailed Stoll in the noggin causing him to sit out the rest of the game. There was already talk prior to the series beginning that something of this sort may happen. Thornton has been suspended for a hit to the head to add to Torres’ prior suspension.
Muzzin looked a bit better tonight which may be due to playing a more “stay at home” type style to allow Martinez to play forward a bit. He also kept his passes shorter rather than attempting stretch passes, which is appropriate in a game where you’ve already got a point advantage on the opposition.
Toffoli looked sharp yet again. He threw several solid hits tonight and he had a couple of solid scoring chances. Being on a line with Jordan Nolan doesn’t help his chances of getting a point but that’s not the goal of his playoff presence. Sutter either wants him to get playoff experience for next year or wants to make him more attractive as a trade prospect in the offseason. His speed and scrappiness helped with Clifford’s absence as well.
Couple of side notes: Screw you NBC. Your announcers are annoying. I understand the Penguins are the hot topic for the moment (just wait, I’ll be surprised if Ottawa doesn’t give them a solid contest) but the obvious preference given to Eastern teams is infuriating. Not only do you hold the sole contract for playoff games, but you don’t have a backup channel for the beginnings of games that get overwritten. Thank Skadi I paid for Gamecenter and can watch the TSN feed thanks to rerouting my IP to England. I’ll happily pay the $50 for Gamecenter and $5 for an IP reroute in order to avoid listening to the garbage on NBC and dealing with the Eastern conference favortism and lack of respect for the defending champions. To hear NBC talk about our boys, they accidentally won the Stanley Cup last year and they’re outmatched in every game they play this year. Oh, and Quick is terrible and our boys are slow.
Humorous: Tim Horton’s ads in Staples. I realize that Canadians do watch American playoff games, but the closest Tim Horton’s to Staples is in BC. Hopefully that ad money is paying off! I do prefer seeing it to LA’s Waste Management ad. Who didn’t know LA had waste management? Who’s going to go spend money with Waste Management after seeing an ad at Staples?
0-1 Voynov with assists by Richards and Carter
Carter wins the faceoff and gets it to Richards. Richards very quickly skates up the side boards then attempts a pass but is stopped by a defender’s stick. Voynov scoops it up and shoots from center circle. Logan Couture attempts to get in for the block but a quick shoulder to shoulder contact from Carter sends him rolling. He gets back to his feet but doesn’t block it in time and Niemi has 4 players in front of him providing traffic. Niemi was standing flat footed when Voynov released and he doesn’t get to it in time.
This is Sutter’s celebration face after the goal occurred. We scored once and it was awful.
0-2 Voynov err Richards with assists by Voynov and Scuderi
Slava turns over the puck and quickly goes back to the defensive end. The Sharks go to set up a play, Torres dropping the puck to Couture who tries to dump it in front of the net. Kopitar gets free of his barnacle and scoops up the loose puck. Brown attempts to beat Braun then takes it into the corner and protects it while the rest of the boys get into the offensive zone. He passes back to Scuderi at the point who slides it over to Voynov. Voynov sees an open lane and fires off a shot. The puck bounces off of Richards on the way in. Richards didn’t intentionally tip it but was in the right place at the right time and Niemi isn’t ready for the redirect.
Quick ended the game in a shutout. In 7 playoff games, he’s already got 2 shutouts. He’s only been scored on 10 times in 7 games, giving him a playoff GAA of 1.43 and a save percentage of .952% so far in the 2013 playoffs. He was shot on 35 times and stopped some great chances by San Jose. I think you can all forgive him for the overtime goal in St. Louis now.
Niemi also played a great game, even though the stats wouldn’t make it appear so. He wound up stopping 18 of 20 shots, ending with a .900% He stopped some great scoring chances and one of the two that went in was a defensive breakdown rather than a goaltending failure while the other was a redirect off of Richards. While we did wind up dominating this game on the scoreboard, hopefully it won’t go to the boys’ heads.
I’m going to stop listing the plethora of prospects recalled to come hang out with the team and see playoff energy.
Kyle Clifford: Injured, practiced in a no contact jersey today.
Keaton Ellerby: Sitting out for the other 6 defensive players.
Matt Greene: They’re still being very quiet about his recovery. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him come in if we get a big lead in a series, but don’t expect it to be soon.
Brad Richardson: Sutter’s obviously got faith in the rest of the boys. While I like Richardson, he did sit for a big chunk of the season and only showed mediocre performance at the end of the regular season. Count on him being a depth player for injuries or performance issues.
Boxscore, Stats for the Game
Shots: SJS 35, LAK 20
(Keep in mind, the boys had a 2-0 lead halfway through the second period, so they buttoned down defensively rather than playing aggressively)