Programming note: Coverage of Game 3 between the Sharks and Kings begins Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. on CSN California with Sharks Pregame Live (Channel locations)
SAN JOSE – Not only have the Los Angeles Kings looked like a confused, befuddled and outmatched hockey team through the first two games of their playoff series with the Sharks, at the end of Game 2, their frustration with getting run out of the building was evident.
Mike Richards finally offered a reminder that he is, in fact, playing in this series when he purposely speared Logan Couture in the groin with under five minutes to go. A scoreless Richards is still looking for his first shot on goal, and perhaps the only other time Richards did anything of note is when Jason Demers stripped him in Game 1 leading to a Marc-Edouard Vlasic goal.
Matt Greene, who was arguably more effective when he sat in the press box in Game 1, took out his game-worst -4 rating on Tommy Wingels, body slamming the forward in the closing seconds. Earlier in the third, Greene was issued an extra minor for roughing, when he bloodied up Raffi Torres during a scrum.
Dustin Brown and Kyle Clifford were handed game misconducts, along with the Sharks’ Andrew Desjardins and Mike Brown, at 14:25 of the third after yet another get-together when the game was already decided.
Brown, who declined to fight Wingels earlier this season, passed up an opportunity to drop the gloves with Desjardins, a perfect chance for the captain to try and fire up what looks like an utterly defeated team. Instead, Brown spent the closing minutes in the dressing room, having no noticeable impact for the second straight night.
On Monday, some of the Sharks were asked if they sensed a frustrated Kings club, as the series shifts to Los Angeles this week.
“A little bit,” said Wingels, who relayed that he’s fine after the wrestling move from Greene. “We’ve stepped up the physicality and our speed in the playoffs here. I think it’s kind of caught them by surprise, and definitely a level of frustration. Ultimately, we held serve at home here. Now we need to go on the road and win at least one, hopefully two. We did our job at home and we’re ready to play on the road.”
Desjardins didn’t want to get into his conversation with Brown.
“I think that’s just a typical playoff series. You’re playing teams every second day, playing them lots,” Desjardins said. “There’s going to be frustrations and your little scrums, and stuff. We just have got to stay on top of them.”
Goalie Jonathan Quick hasn’t been himself, and after two games, the Team USA Olympic starter has a shocking 7.20 goals-against average and .824 save percentage.
For the second time in as many games, the Sharks’ Mike Brown shoved one of the Kings’ players clean into Quick, knocking the netminder over. In Game 2, it was Tyler Toffoli who was sent flying into the crease on a Brown body check, after Brown drove Slava Voynov into Quick less than five minutes into Game 1.
Whether the fiery goalie has been negatively affected by those plays is difficult to quantify, but the numbers indicate that Sharks are in Quick’s noggin.
“I think he’s frustrated with the amount of goals going in. Whether he thinks he can play better or he had no chance on those – obviously you don’t want to give up that many goals,” Wingels said. “Maybe that’s creeping into his head.”
“There’s a reason that Jonathan is an Olympian, and has won a Stanley Cup before. You have to be mentally strong, especially as a goalie. From what everyone says about him, I think he’s very comfortable in that situation. He’ll be ready to rebound for Game 3, and shut out whatever was in his mind.”
Perhaps aided by the re-integration of Torres and Tomas Hertl back into the lineup, the Sharks have been noticeably more aggressive and speedier in these first two games than in the closing weeks of the regular season. The Kings haven’t been able – or maybe willing – to match the Sharks’ tenacity and determination.
“We have guys who are playoff players, and we’re keeping it simple right now,” Wingels said. “We’re playing what we think is Sharks Hockey, and that’s making the simple play, playing fast hard and supportive. We’re happy with the blueprint right now. We can make some adjustments, but a lot of things going well right now that we’ll continue to try and do.”
Todd McLellan indicated the Kings could get a boost from the series moving to Staples Center for the next two games.
“Their belief system probably goes up a little bit, and that's what we're up against,” he said.
After two wins by a combined score of 13-5, the Sharks’ game plan won’t change. Keeping the Kings discouraged and off-balance will be the aim.
“We know that they feel comfortable at home, so we have to try to push them a little bit farther, and get to them a little bit,” Joe Pavelski said.