Programming note: Coverage of Game 6 between the Sharks and Kings begins Monday at 6:30 p.m. on CSN California (Channel locations)
SAN JOSE – Dan Boyle, typically the most honest Sharks player when it comes to discussing wins, losses, and everything else, wasn’t all that eager to delve into the reasons behind his team’s decisive 3-0 loss to the Kings in Game 5 on Saturday at SAP Center.
“We didn’t win the game,” Boyle said. “Listen, man. You guys do want you want to dissect it. We didn’t win the game. You can blame a lot of different things, but we’ve got to turn the page and move on. Winning teams do that, and we will do that.”
Earlier in the week, head coach Todd McLellan warned against his team “playing with mulligans” when it was ahead three games to none.
Is that what happened here?
Boyle: “What do you think? You think we went out there and said ‘hey guys, we’ve got three more cracks at this?’ You think that’s what we’re doing? … I can’t even believe that’s a question, but no, we did not.”
Joe Pavelski, who has been unable to finish on several glorious chances the past two games, offered this head-scratcher: “We’re on right now. That switch is on. We’re in playoff mode. It’s been that way for a while.”
On, Joe? Really?
There are mountains of evidence to the contrary indicating the Sharks weren’t prepared at the start of the game, and didn’t get any better after allowing 12 of the first 14 shots on goal and quickly falling behind.
The Sharks were credited with 26 giveaways, and although that’s a much-maligned stat, it’s reflective of the Sharks’ sloppiness with the puck in this case.
They were forced to play with just five defensemen after Marc-Edouard Vlasic left with what was deemed an upper body injury courtesy of Jarret Stoll, and the remaining defensemen looked slow and out of sync. Vlasic is perhaps the most irreplaceable player on the roster, and his status for Game 6 is uncertain. Gulp.
Finally, Jonathan Quick returned to his All-Star form, stopping all 30 shots he saw, several of which were difficult. On the other end, Antti Niemi was pulled for the second straight game in favor of Alex Stalock, who made 22 saves on 22 shots.
In the days and weeks leading up to the postseason, the term “short leash” was used frequently when describing Niemi as the playoff starter, as Stalock continued to impress and Niemi failed to find any consistency. Now, it’s entirely possible Niemi has lost his starting role.
“It’s tough,” Niemi said. “You try your best. We give up a few too many goals, and I get pulled, so it’s tough, for sure.”
Is he worried about not getting the start for the pivotal Game 6 on Monday in Los Angeles?
“Worry? No, not really. I’ll go through the goals, and get to the rink tomorrow and be ready to go.”
McLellan was non-committal when asked if he has a decision to make about his starter.
"Yep. Just like any other night,” he said. “We have two good goaltenders. We'll have to make some decisions throughout our lineup at every position, because we weren't obviously near good enough tonight."
The head coach had no immediate answers for the overall sloppiness of his team.
“I don't have an explanation for that. I thought we were slow,” McLellan said. “Simply put, we were slow. We didn't have legs and we didn't execute well, which made us even slower. We had poor puck support, and that made us slow."
Joe Thornton said: “We were just out of sync from the start, which is not acceptable this time of year."
The Sharks will have a day between games to try and figure out what went wrong, or the series will return to San Jose for a decisive Game 7 on Wednesday.
“Now, we have to go down there and try to win a game,” Thornton said.