The San Jose Sharks just six days ago were enjoying a cozy three games-to-none lead over the Los Angeles King in this first round of the playoffs. However, that lead is long gone now as the Kings have found their form and are clicking on all cylinders heading in to tonight’s Game Seven in San Jose. About the only two things the Sharks have going for them coming in to this game is their home history against the Kings and playoff history itself.
According to playoff history, only three teams have ever came back from three games down in order to win a best-of-seven series. That makes it three times in 175 total tries in the history of the NHL playoffs- a meager 1.7 percent. The only teams to do it were the 1942 Stanley Cup Champions Toronto Maple Leafs (trailed 0-3 to the Detroit Red Wings), the 1975 New York Islanders (trailed the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Quarterfinals), and the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers (trailed the Boston Bruins 0-3 in the Eastern Conference Finals). Along with that tidbit of history behind the Sharks, they also have a pretty stellar home record history against the Kings.
Before losing Game Five at home to the Kings by a score of 6-3, the Sharks record at home versus the Kings over the past three seasons (including the playoffs) was a stellar 12-1. San Jose fans inside the Shark Tank will be sure to do everything in their power to make sure that historical trend continues.
The San Jose Sharks also have a little bit of history against them in this Game Seven. The Sharks have now lost 4 straight series-clinching games and go in tonight’s game with a big question mark at goalie. Backup goalie, Alex Stalock, got the start in Game Six over Antti Niemi after Niemi was pulled in Games Four and Five. Stalock, however, in his first ever career playoff game start gave up four goals to the Kings and now the Sharks will turn back to Niemi, a net-minder that is sure to be lacking confidence.
Another piece of history coming against the Sharks tonight will be a forward aptly given the nickname, “Mr. Game Seven.” Justin Williams for the Kings has five goals four assists in four career game sevens (his team went 4-0 in those games). Williams scored the only two goals in last year’s 2-1 victory over San Jose in the second round of last year’s playoffs and has now scored two goals in both Games Four and Six.
In this pivotal and potentially historic Game Seven, the Sharks will have to corral Justin Williams and the surging Anze Kopitar if they hope to make it out of this first round series alive and avoid history. Kopitar and Williams have a combined seven goals and 10 points over these last three series wins against the Sharks. Hoping to contain these two will be a tough task tonight, as the Sharks will again be without top-line defenseman, Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick has settled down after being pulled in Games One and Two, where the Sharks racked up 13 goals. A lot of that success has to do with the Kings clamping down defensively on the Sharks talented top forwards, avoiding the odd-man rushes that doomed the Kings in the first three games. In the first three games, the Sharks were able to get scoring from lines one through four. And if the Sharks stand a chance in this Game Seven, the team will need their top-line forwards in Thorton, Marleu, Pavelski and Couture to find their successful ways again and score fast and early on Quick in order to shake that newly found- but not unbreakable- confidence.
Sharks vs Kings, 7:00 MST
NBCS, CBC, RDS2, CSCA
Commentary by Ryne Vyles