With the series now tied between the LA Kings and the San Jose Sharks, at two games each, I think the biggest question everyone should have is…Which team’s veterans will step up and take over the series to win it for their team?
The veteran leaders of the Kings did just that last year to win the cup (along with numerous other things, they were basically unstoppable), they provided the back bone that is needed to raise Lord Stanley’s Cup. Unfortunately for the Kings, the Sharks vets have really taken it to them in the last two games at the Shark Tank, and I think that will continue throughout the series and the Sharks will move on to the Western Conference Finals.
Let’s start with Jumbo Joe Thornton. He came out of the gates flying in game four to set an example for the rest of his team. Thornton got his team revved up early and the strong play continued throughout most of the game. The Kings on the other hand finished strong in the third period, but did not come up with the win.
Kings fans will argue that they got the short end of the stick when a whistle was blown “early” while the puck was making its way into the net. NHL.com quotes Dustin Brown “It was a quick whistle is all,”…”Those kind of things tend to even themselves out over the course of a year.” I respect Dustin Brown and this is exactly why; he didn’t blame the refs at all for the loss.
Back to the topic at hand though, veteran leaders that have stepped up their game for the Sharks and will ultimately be key to the Sharks winning the series. Patrick Marleau is quietly playing well during these playoffs with 8 pts (5+3); an average of a point per game so far. Thornton, as mentioned before, not only is playing like he has nothing to lose, but is also putting up points, 9 pts (1+8) to be exact. If Datsyukian is the term for having ridiculous moves and dekes, then Thorntonian should be used to describe a sick pass that will ultimately end up as a goal, because that is all that Thornton does.
Some people may not agree with this, but I am going to lump Logan Couture in with the veteran leaders for the Sharks. Yes, I am aware that he is only 24 years old, but you know what… he is playing like a seasoned veteran. Couture is scoring huge goals and putting up stellar numbers, 11 pts (5+6) in 8 games. I guess I should also put Brent Burns into this category (young but playing like a veteran leader). For being a defenseman turned winger Burns is posting some good numbers, 4 pts (2+2), plus he has an awesome playoff beard, that should count for something. I can’t believe I almost forgot the other Joe….Joe Pavelski also has been significantly contributing during these playoffs with 10 pts (4+6).
Basically what I am getting at is that the SJ Sharks core is finally firing on all cylinders in the playoffs. In years past the Sharks would have a great season and then blow it in the playoffs, this seems to be a different team this year. Take a look below at the core of the Kings to compare…
Kings veteran players: Dustin Brown 3 pts (2+1), Anze Kopitar 5 pts (1+4), Jeff Carter 7 pts (4+3),and Mike Richards 9 pts (2+7). Keep in mind that these numbers include round one; the Kings have played a total of ten playoff games, two more than the Sharks.
If I haven’t made it crystal clear so far, I really think that the momentum has shifted in this series. Therefore I predict that the Sharks will get a “W” at the Staples Center and will ultimately win the series; more importantly the veterans for the Sharks will outplay the veterans of the Kings.