While the Sharks and Kings have come together to provide the best rivalry west of the Mason-Dixon over the last three years, Monday night’s 1-0 Los Angeles victory didn’t match the marquee. The Kings have been offensively challenged lately — 18 goals over the last nine games — but they’ve also become a Nashville Predators-lite, lull-you-to-sleep hockey team.
Take this game for example: the Kings only managed 15 shots on Alex Stalock through almost two periods, allowing the Sharks backup to set a new franchise shutout record of 178:55 (Evgeni Nabokov held the former record, 171:14, set in 2009).
But the Sharks were even worse. San Jose couldn’t muster even 10 shots on goal through the first two periods and put a heavy push on in the third period to get to 22. Jonathan Quick had an evening of light work in goal, thanks in large part to 24 Kings blocking shots and some seriously sloppy play from the Sharks’ forwards. His best save of the night was robbery on Bracken Kearns, who couldn’t lift a backhand shot and got robbed by Quick’s glove.
Defensively, San Jose was sound. The Kings’ lone goal came on a pretty nifty lead pass from Jeff Carter and a good set of hands from Anze Kopitar. The Sharks’ penalty kill was flawless, including a crucial four-minute double-minor after Joe Pavelski tried to deflect a high shot and caught Kopitar in the face with the shaft of his stick. Unfortunately, defense doesn’t score goals, and that’s been a damning fact for the Sharks who try to match wits with the likes of low-scoring opponents.
Off the Post
— This game was broadcast on NBC Sports Network, and although we were lucky enough to have Randy and Drew in the booth (meaning we didn’t have to suffer through Doc Emrick because it was clearly way past his bedtime), we still had Jeremy Roenick in all of his terrible glory during intermissions and post game. Roenick is an awful commentator — we already knew this — but I never noticed how much trouble he has getting players’ names right. He called Justin Braun “Dustin Braun” and Bracken Kearns “Jonathan Kearns,” and those were just the two gaffes that I managed to record.
Roenick spent a lot of time trying to be cute — like he’s the Stuart Scott of NBCSN — but it just came off contrived and sad. Granted, he’ll never get back in my good graces, no matter how schooled he is on his former team, but he might want to try a little harder to remember players’ names if he wants to be taken seriously.* It’s kinda cute if you’re Tim McCarver, not so cute if you’re Roenick.
— To be fair, he also said San Jose has “the best looking power play in the NHL,” which is surprising because it’s the first time he’s ever complimented Patrick Marleau.
— Todd McLellan is back to messing around with his lines again. I understand it — the Sharks have been struggling to score lately, but after a couple games of separating Brent Burns and Joe Thornton, he put them back together tonight. I know this is a retread talking point here on BASG, but I’ve never been a huge proponent of doing a bunch of shuffling when lines go cold, especially the Sharks’ top two lines. They’re ridiculously productive when they’re on, and sometimes you have to ride out the cold streaks.
— As it stands right now, the Sharks and Kings would meet in the first round of the playoffs. Let’s hope it doesn’t continue to stand, because I don’t have faith that the Sharks can get through the Kings and this was really boring hockey.
*I doubt Roenick wants to be taken seriously