Programming note: Kings-Sharks coverage starts tonight at 7pm with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California.
SAN JOSE – One of the main reasons the Sharks have been able to jump out to a two-games-to-none lead over Los Angeles has been their ability to silence some of the Kings’ big guns.
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles’ leading scorer in the regular season, has just one secondary assist on Jeff Carter’s strange power play goal in Game 1. Tyler Toffoli, their leading goal scorer, and Drew Doughty, arguably the NHL’s best defenseman, are both scoreless with minus-three ratings.
Sharks coach Pete DeBoer, though, doesn’t sense any of Los Angeles’ top players are struggling.
“You’ve got some Stanley Cup champions there. At the same time, I don’t think they’ve played that poorly. I think we’ve done a good job on them,” DeBoer said.
“I’d rather give us credit than say that they’re not bringing it. I think they’re bringing it, they’re trying to push. We’ve done a good job on them and we’ve got to continue to do that.”
Goalie Martin Jones pointed out after Game 2 that the Sharks have done a good job clearing pucks and bodies out from in front of the net. When shots have gotten through, Jones has been there, like when he denied Milan Lucic from close range with a quick pad in the second period on Saturday.
“They’ve had some chances,” Logan Couture said. “We try to keep most of them to the outside and Jonesy has made some big saves.”
Toffoli said: “They do a good job of getting in shooting lanes. We’ve got to get around it, get pucks through, get to the net and dig away.”
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Don’t expect any huge changes in the Kings’ approach for Game 3, as coach Darryl Sutter suggested that the first two games could have gone either way.
Sutter pointed out that of the 10 goals in the series, four have come on the power play and one was shorthanded. San Jose has outscored the Kings at even strength, though, 4-1.
“They’ve scored on a handful of their [scoring chances] and we’ve scored on one of ours. That’s the difference in the series,” Sutter said. “There’s really not much gap at all. I’m not saying it because I’m coaching the team that’s 0-2 or the team that’s 2-0. It can be quite easily the other way, and that’s how close it is.”
Doughty echoed his coach.
“There’s times throughout both games where we were the more dominant team and things just didn’t go our way,” he said. “We just have to continue to do those things properly and learn from our mistakes, and start playing with that swagger and confidence that we have as a team. I think we’re missing it a little bit right now, but tonight we’re going to bring it back.”
The Kings are apparently making one change to their lineup, as Kyle Clifford will draw back in for Nick Shore. San Jose is sticking with the same group as the first two games, per DeBoer.
“We’ve played two solid games. There’s no need to make changes unless you have to,” DeBoer said.
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Being at home the Sharks will get the last change, allowing DeBoer to get the line matchups he prefers.
Through the first two games, though, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of strategy involved in that regard from either side.
“We got most of the matchups that we wanted on the road,” DeBoer said.
“I’m not married to any kind of matchups. I have a comfort level that we’ve got four lines and six D that if we get somebody stuck out there against somebody, we’re not panicking to get them off the ice because they can’t play against them. We have a real comfort level there. … It’s not something I’m worried about.”
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Sharks director of player personnel/nine-time Stanley Cup winner Larry Robinson is fairly new to Twitter, but he took to the platform to pass along some thoughts on the team headed into Game 3.
“[Joel Ward] or [Joonas Donskoi] have to come up big offensively and [Martin Jones] has to stay the course. Can't rely on [Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton] to do it every night, even though they do. Look for our 4th line to have a big night,” Robinson tweeted.
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The Sharks are urging fans attending home playoff games to arrive early due to increased security screening:
“Due to the nature of the process, fans may encounter delays entering the building and are encouraged to arrive at least one hour prior to game time. All bags being brought into SAP Center are subject to search, but those fans who are not carrying bags can take advantage of the express lines.”
SAP Center doors open at 6 p.m. for Game 3.