SAN JOSE – An NHL team’s compete level is difficult to quantify, but there are a few stats that are typically reflective of it on any given night.
One of them is blocked shots. In Monday’s 2-1 Kings win in Game 3, Los Angeles got in front of 27 San Jose attempts, its most in a playoff game since blocking 28 on April 19, 2010 against Vancouver.
Pete DeBoer noticed.
“It definitely is an indicator of where your game is at and your desperation level is at,” said the Sharks’ coach. “That tells me theirs was in a must-win spot, and ours was a little bit below that. We’ve got to get it back there.”
The Sharks managed just three official shots on net in 10 minutes of power play time (although one by Logan Couture, off of the knob of Quick’s stick, did not register). The Kings got in front of a combined 12 Sharks shot attempts while San Jose was on a man advantage, allowing them to win the Game 3 special teams battle.
The positive, of course, is that the Sharks had plenty of offensive zone time against the Kings, both at even strength and on the power play. But if you can’t get pucks to the net when you’re there, it doesn't matter.
“We had some good looks,” Couture said. “We’ve got to score on one of those. You have to.”
In Game 2, it was the Sharks who blocked 28 Los Angeles attempts, as they slipped out of Staples Center with a 2-1 win.
“Got to keep shooting the puck,” Joe Pavelski said. “There’s going to be times in this postseason when teams are blocking shots, they’re desperate. We’ve had that on our side, and we’ll keep going.”
DeBoer commented earlier in the series that he looks at faceoff percentage as another indicator of how hard a team is competing, something predecessor Todd McLellan used to do, as well. The Sharks won just 43 percent of draws in Game 3, up slightly from their miserable 40 percent success rate in Game 2.
Third line center Patrick Marleau, who had a terrific Game 1 but has been nearly invisible in games two and three, is just 6-for-25 in the circle (24 percent) over the last two games after he won five-of-seven in Game 1. Chris Tierney, the fourth line center, is just 5-for-17 in the past two games (29.4 percent). He also took a minor penalty for a faceoff violation late in the second period of Monday's game.
In Game 1, the Sharks scored two goals directly off of faceoff wins. Joel Ward won a draw to Brent Burns, who whizzed in a low wrister from the point that beat Jonathan Quick, while an offensive zone win by Pavelski in the third period resulted in the captain’s game-winning wraparound marker.
The Sharks’ 45.4 percent faceoff percentage is 15th in the league among the 16 playoff teams. That will have to improve.
“We’ve got to be better, obviously, beating them in the important draws in the offensive zone and d-zone,” Couture said.
Upping that compete level and desperation would be a good place to start, as the Kings have gotten a little bit stronger and more desperate with each passing game.
“We still have to play better,” Couture said. “We know that they’re going to be better. They’re a tough team, they’ve won some championships. They’ve got a lot of guys over there that have carried them to those championships. We’ve got to be better than them.”