So far this series has not resembled last season’s low-scoring affair between the Kings and Sharks. However, the home ice advantage seems to be intact and tonight the Kings need to see that this one consistency remains for a few more games.
We know what the Kings need to do…
NOT FORCE THE PUCK UP ICE.
The Kings have gotten burned every time they move through the neutral zone by trying to force an overload on a strong side. The Sharks have identified this, applied pressure and caused turnovers time and time again. These strong side plays arise from trying to move the puck up ice too quickly, hoping to catch the Sharks or keep the pace going. It’s more important to settle the puck down in the defensive zone and organize a proper breakout utilizing the width of the ice with shorter passes.
AGGRESSIVELY DEFEND PASSES OFF THE SHARKS’ RUSH
The Sharks formula to beat Quick is fairly obvious. Speed across the blue line, pass above the circles and shoot as quickly as possible. Quick needs to be sharper but can’t be expected to totally adjust his style of play. I am confident in Quick’s ability to stone the puck carrier coming down the wing with speed if he is forced to shoot. The defense needs to not hedge their bets, trust Quick to stop the shooter and crowd the would-be receiver of a one-timer.
PISS OFF NIEMI
Despite copious puck control time in game two, the Kings were unable to generate much offense. Niemi has been too comfortable and is seeing the pucks that come at him. We don’t score our goals the way the Sharks do. Trevor Lewis’ goal last game was exactly the type of play I want to see more of, two players driving towards the net at once, one with the puck, one without. I would like those player’s names to be Kopitar, Gaborik, Carter and Brown. We don’t have a Penner-type anymore to plant a fat ass in front of the net, so it needs to be done by committee. If there isn’t a King hovering within five feet of Niemi at all times in the offensive zone, there is a problem.
FEED OFF THE FANS
This is not up to the Kings, it’s up to you. I don’t care that the Kings come to Staples down 2-0. I don’t care about the embarrassing nature of those losses. It’s time to be LOUD, from the puck drop until the final buzzer. It’s going to be very easy for the building to go silent if the Sharks gain momentum or score a goal. How can you expect the team to ride and turn the tides of momentum if the fans can’t. People will be waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s up to the team to see that it doesn’t drop, but if it does, it’s incumbent upon you to help put it back on and beat the Sharks over the head with it.
We can’t control who will be the difference maker for the Kings, the player that will score the back breaking goal, or win it quintuple overtime.
You can only control what you do. You can start that chant that gets the crowd roaring. You can lend your voice to a smaller one. You can be that difference maker for the fans.
You can also pray.
Our Kings, who art in the first round, hallowed be thy game.
Thy Kingdom comes as thy wills be done, on home ice at it has been before.
Give us this day our defense back, and forgive no Sharks their transgressions,
As we pound into submission those who trespass against us.
And lead us past game three with a win,
Past these evil Shark fucks.
Hail Kopi, full of grace, the fans are with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst players and blessed are the fruit of thy skills, goals.
Holy Kopi, dominant of centers, play for us sinners,
Now until the hour of our Cup.
You know what to do.
Go fucking nuts.
GO FUCKING NUTS!
GO KINGS GO!
GO KINGS GO!!
GO KINGS GO!!!