I'm supposed to make only five good points after the Sharks just scored EIGHT goals?
In Game 3 San Jose skated to an 8-1 win, and a commanding 3-0 series lead. But more important than their margin of victory, is the way they are seeming to get better with every game of the second season.
It's amazing that this identical group of guys finished their regular season by losing 5 of 6. They are so detached from that right now. Meanwhile Anaheim had won 10 of their last 12 to close out the schedule, as the league's hottest team. How quickly that has also changed.
1: That 8 on that scoreboard is awfully attractive, but the 1 is equally important.
Martin Jones and the defensemen who help his cause have been exceptional in this series. While everyone is focused on 14 goals scored in nine periods for San Jose, how about the (only) THREE pucks that have gotten past Jones in 180 minutes. He has stopped 98 of 101 shots. And oh yeah, Two of Anaheim's goals were scored on power plays, and the other came 41 seconds into Game 2 on a Silfverberg wrister that found a fortunate deflection and became tricky. What's encouraging is that we're not seeing something new from Jones. We know his track record. But we are seeing something different than when he was trying to play through an injury during the middle of this regular season, and the stats were not trending well. Jones seems "back" as ever.
2: What strings do the Ducks even have left to pull?
Jamie Baker suggested on Postgame Live that they're not experiencing a goaltender problem, it's a leadership problem. Fair point, especially considering the end of Game 3. It's just that - changing goalies will be a whole lot easier than changing leaders 85 tilts into the season. At 5-1 on the scoreboard, Randy Carlyle chose to go with Ryan Miller for the third period on Monday night. All he did in the blue paint was allow another three to find the back of the net. John Gibson could very well be suffering from lingering symptoms of a concussion he likely suffered on April 1st against the Avs. Ryan Kesler pushed Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog into his own goalie, Gibson. In his place, all Ryan Miller did in the final 4 games of Anaheim's season was collect four wins, including a shutout in the finale. Going with Miller in Game 4 may appear as a "what have we got to lose?" situation, but I think it gives them a better chance at this juncture.
3: About those San Jose goals - four on the Power Play and eight different scorers
Let's state the obvious. You're not going to get eight power play opportunities in most games. And you also won't be able to capitalize on 50 percent of your power play opportunities in most games. But the Ducks were so undisciplined down the stretch, it's almost like they can't even talk themselves out of taking penalties. And San Jose made them pay, scoring their final four on man advantages. The other amazing aspect is a Stanley Cup Playoff game that featured eight different goal scorers: Couture, Donskoi, Sorensen, Fehr, Hertl, Pavelski, Kane, and Meier. Our friends at Elias Sports Bureau tell us: It's a feat that has happened only 10 times before, with the last being in 1993 by the Los Angeles Kings.
4: Missing Cam Fowler is worse than missing Joe Thornton?
Before we go any further, I'm not comparing them side-by-side. One is an excellent defensive defenseman. The other is a future Hall of Famer. What I am saying is that the Ducks seem to miss their key component more than the Sharks do theirs. That could potentially speak to the importance of the defensive position in the playoffs, or it could be a product of timing. The Sharks had months to find their way without Jumbo being available, whereas the Ducks lost Fowler on April 1st with a shoulder injury. He didn't even make the current trip to San Jose, and this Anaheim team is having trouble stopping offense, and starting offense without him. They're adjusting on the fly, but hardly flying.
5: Closing out this series sooner than later is imperative.
There's one thing we learned two seasons ago when the Sharks went to the Stanley Cup Final…how long the sequence of four rounds is. Amazing as it sounds, should San Jose be in that same position come June - we likely will have distant memories of THIS current series they're in. Amazing to say that now, right? Getting to the point, playing as few games along the way of this journey is important. It cuts down on injuries, fatigue, and allows your team to regenerate between rounds - if you can advance before everyone else. That seems to be the case in the West: Las Vegas and San Jose have commanding leads, but Round 2 doesn't begin until everyone else is ready, and the league can pencil in a schedule. So yes, don't "open the door" to your faltering opponent and let them mentally back in this series, but at the same time end this round for your own physical good.