In Game 2, the Kings hoped to capitalize on their scrappy third period of Game 1 when they scored three times to cut their deficit to 5-3. The Sharks eventually scored an empty-netter for the 6-3 Game 1 victory at home. But when the Kings jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period of Game 2, things looked optimistic. After all, the Sharks had pretty much outplayed the Kings during that first period, and Jonathan Quick made some pretty epic saves.
After the 17-minute intermission, the Sharks continued where they left off and the Kings jumped into the abyss. Mike Brown. Raffi Torres. Justin Braun. The Sharks then took the 3-2 lead going into the second intermission. Then in the third period the bigger guys weighed in: Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Joe Thornton.
After the Dodger Stadium game I thought the Kings were done. They're done.
— Jimmy Bramlett (@JimmyBramlett) April 21, 2014
After their Game 3 loss Game 4 looked like a mere formality, but something funny happened along the way to a San Jose sweep. Rather than trying to bully the Sharks into submission which obviously hadn’t worked to that point, the Kings decided to go back to their game. Sure there were still hard hits, but they made sure to refocus on trying to get their forecheck going, to stop turning over pucks in their own zone, to limit the Sharks odd-man rushes that led to that 7-2 drubbing in Game 2.
As the Kings kept winning, the recurring question about the Sharks during the playoffs came up. And it crescendoed in Game 7 last night: how do they shrink and shrink as the spotlight gets brighter and brighter? Head coach Todd McClellan will probably take the fall. General manager Doug Wilson will probably keep his job. But that team as constituted with Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau cannot return. Barring runs to the Western Conference Finals in 2010 and 2011, this team has proven they can’t win in the postseason.
The Kings, meanwhile, joined the likes of 1942 Maple Leafs, 1975 New York Islanders, 2004 Boston Red Sox and the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers as teams who have completed reverse-sweeps in a best-of-seven-games series. And they won the game despite the Sharks scoring first. Before yesterday’s triple-header of Game 7s, the last 16 Game 7s were won by the team who scored first. The last team to come from behind in a Game 7 to win: those 2010 Philadelphia Flyers who overcame a 3-0 Boston Bruins lead.
Now comes another bit of history: the first ever Freeway Series in the playoffs between the Ducks and the Kings. On paper the Ducks should win, but then again so should the Sharks have won. There will be a lot of space wasted in deep analysis, the goalie matchup, the forwards, the stars, the whatevers. It’s an exercise in futility, and frankly those who do it are complete idiots.
Simply put, I like the Kings to dispatch the Ducks in six games en route to their third consecutive conference final berth.