Five for Thinking: Day 98 of Jumbo Watch

On Saturday, San Jose notched a road win to their name in this series. 

Monday night, Las Vegas returned the favor in a second consecutive 4-3 overtime finish.

We now have a 2-1 series, where the "pressure" returns to a Sharks team looking to even things up.

If you just watched Game 3 and didn't look at the scoreboard, it could have appeared as a Sharks victory by multiple goals.  It's just that the Golden Knights seemed to take advantage of countering on every sliver of opportunity.  As Jamie Baker put it, San Jose just made one more mistake than its foes.  

It turns out to be a frustrating loss in that, San Jose scored first, and even erased a two-goal deficit.  But still walks away with nothing to show for it.

1: This won't be a CliffsNotes series, this is going to be the full novel.

Even if the Sharks win out the rest of this series - it would require six games to complete.  My instincts are here to tell you, it could very well take all seven for San Jose to advance.  I'm very much in favor of quicker rounds  - it cuts down on extra wear & tear, and allows you to physically and mentally regenerate before facing the next opponent.  But I think at some point we have to look ourselves in the mirror and accept that: things could get ugly, frustrating, and intimidating before this job against Las Vegas is complete.  Remember Round 2 from two years ago?  It was a seven-game marathon that seems much easier now in reverse, than when we were all actually living those weeks versus Nashville.

2: From the "depth" of scorers, to the "width" of attack.

Depth of scoring has nothing to do with physical distances, but the "width of attack" certainly does.  It's been a common trend in this series, when both teams are scoring goals, it has been the result of East-West passing that catches the shifting goalie and defenders off balance.  Specifically the cross-slot passes that have put skilled shooters in positions to bury one-timers from the other side of the ice.  While sliding from left-to-right or vice-versa, details seem to get lost for players without the puck.  It's interesting how this has become the scoring "flavor" of the series, as opposed to odd-man rushes, or even the tip/redirect goals which are so popular around the league.

3: Penalties continue to be a factor in every game.

The Golden Knights had 10 man-advantages in Game 1, they capitalized on three.   The Sharks had two Power Plays in the second overtime of Game 2, and ended up winning on the second.  In Game 3, not only did Vegas get half their goals on special teams, but in the overtime period, they also greatly benefitted from a pair of Sharks penalties.  San Jose took a bench minor for too many men on the ice.  Then Logan Couture was whistled for a delay of game after a puck (unintentionally) last touched his stick before heading over the glass.  The Golden Knights didn't get their overtime winner with an extra attacker, but certainly gained momentum after putting the Sharks short-handed for a full four minutes at the start.

4: The Sharks are making progress on Fleury.

Marc-Andre is an exceptional netminder, we all know his resume.  And he does play an aggressive style, abandoning traditional positions to try and make the extra plays on all edges of the crease.  But he was definitely out of position on more than a usual amount of occasions in Game 3.  Sure, the Sharks weren't able to exploit this nearly to their liking - but there has to be some solace taken in their efforts.  He's a rock, and they're chipping away.  If they keep the pressure on him, odds are their chances to bury goals and games will come.

5: Jumbo Watch: Day 98.

I hesitate to even mention this, because I don't want to create false hope, or be terribly inaccurate with assumptions.  There are a lot of folks speculating that Joe Thornton could be considerably close to a return.  For the record, we are indeed 98 days removed from Jan. 23 - when the forward's right knee bent in a very bad way.  There are so many variables in Joe's (potential) return.  What percentage of normal can he contribute?  How much will he be able to play?  What kind of issues will he face being months removed from game action?  There's only one real thing we DO know about all this - if Joe returns, his teammates are going to love it.  And the boost it could give the group might be worth more than anyone knows.  

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