After being held to just one goal in Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues, the San Jose Sharks came back and won Game 2 4-0. As Martin Jones told Christine Simpson after the game “we played pretty much the same way we did in Game 1,” but this time all the bounces went their way.
And that daunted power play got on track too.
Now as this series heads back to San Jose for Game 3, the Sharks go home in a 1-1 tie. Who has the edge heading out to California? We give you an idea with these four things we learned Tuesday night.
SHARKS PLAYERS SETTING TEAM RECORDS ALL OVER THE PLACE
As teams, especially relatively new franchises in NHL history, go on deep playoff runs, you’ll often start hearing about franchise records being set. The San Jose Sharks haven’t reached the Stanley Cup Final yet (they never have, in fact) and there are already a number of scoring records taking place.
First, Logan Couture‘s two assists Tuesday night gave him 19 points so far this post-season which leads all scorers in these Stanley Cup Playoffs. And those 19 points also put him past Igor Larionov’s 18 points for the most scored in a post-season for the Sharks. Larionov set that team record in 1994, San Jose’s third season in the NHL. That Sharks team played 14 playoff games and were eliminated by the Leafs in the second round.
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Second, Brent Burns. He scored two goals in Tuesday’s win, which gave him six goals so far in these playoffs. That also is a new Sharks franchise playoff record as he passed Mike Rathje, who scored five playoff goals in 1995 when the Sharks were eliminated in the second round by the Detroit Red Wings.
And it’s not just a goals record Burns set. He also set a new high for points by a Sharks blueliner in one post-season. Burns — emphasizing again he’s a defenceman — has played 96 games so far this season and has 93 points.
What a beast.
JOE THORNTON IS OUT THERE HAVING ALL SORTS OF FUN
Perhaps the biggest storyline around this Sharks run is Joe Thornton’s chase for his first Stanley Cup as a 36-year-old. He’s been underrated for so long because his teams have never pushed through and, when those teams fall short, Thornton is usually the one in the crosshairs.
So, down 1-0 in this Western Conference Final heading into Tuesday’s game, you think he’d be gripping the stick tight, feeling the pressure to produce, win and not fall too far behind a tough Blues opponent. Right?
That’s just not Thornton, though. He hasn’t scored a point in this series yet, but he’s enjoying every minute of it. Here he is, having fun with a bunch of young Blues fans.
BLUES NEED TO STAY OUT OF THE PENALTY BOX
We didn’t really learn this tonight, but we did learn just how accurate of a point it is.
In Game 1, the Blues took just three penalties and kept San Jose’s power play off the board. In Game 2, the Blues took five penalties and allowed two power play goals — both to Brent Burns.
In San Jose’s first round series against the Los Angeles Kings — a team they were very evenly matched up with on paper — the difference was the man advantage. The Sharks had the third-best PP in the regular season and it was the one area where they had a clear leg up on the Kings. San Jose scored five PP goals in five games and eliminated the Kings 4-1.
Coming into this series against St. Louis, the Sharks had the second-best power play percentage of all playoff teams, behind only the Chicago Blackhawks, who the Blues knocked out in seven games in Round 1. So the Blues had dealt with this kind of power play before and survived it. But as close as that series was with Chicago, you have to figure the Blues don’t want to keep playing with fire.
Four of St. Louis’ five penalties in Game 2 were stick penalties, so it’s a matter of focus and discipline. If the Blues are going to win this series, they can’t allow that Sharks power play to get too much 5-on-4, or even 5-on-3 time. Because, so far, the Sharks are easily the better team at even strength as well.
SHOULD GATES ON PLAYERS BENCHES BE ABOLISHED?
Patrik Berglund‘s run-in with an open bench door in Game 2 caused a moment of panic for the Blues and their fans when he left the game and went to the dressing room. While Berglund did eventually return, the near-injury had the Sportsnet panel discussing whether or not the NHL should get rid of these doors on the bench altogether.
It’s something the league has discussed and there are pros and cons to the idea (you can read about them here), which brings us to our poll for tonight.
What do you think about doors on the players benches?