Each line’s chemistry has taken hold. There are no holes, no soft spots from 1 to 12. Offensively dangerous. Defensively competent. Sutter seems comfortable with the lines and I don’t expect changes. It isn’t broken. It is thriving.
The sticks and bodies are in lanes. San Jose no longer has the cross seam pass. The trailer is left trailing. This is deliberate. It is the direct result of games 1 and 2. Their predictable offensive strategy has been neutralized. San Jose will keep going back to it. We will continue to stop it.
We are blocking shots.
We are getting shots through.
We’ve discussed these before as important details, as the “cause” to the “effect.”
There is more.
Defense – Home plate becomes a greater challenge to which we must rise. Assume Willie Mitchell is out. He and his stick are a big part of keeping the front clear. Whoever the Kings play in Mitchell’s place must not wander from the front if San Jose gains a forecheck…or, better yet, don’t let them gain the forecheck. It starts at the points and inside the dots, specifically the time and space we take away. You see, pucks get to the front of the net and in the high percentage areas IF they get through, IF forwards have the time to set up there while waiting for a shot. A team defensive effort that pushes the play toward the dots and boards and uses the body and stick to keep opposing forwards and defenseman from “setting up” forces the Sharks to change their game. They forecheck differently than we do. Send them to the boards and we send them to a place they don’t want to go. A place they are not comfortable and ill-equipped.
Offense – We exploded for goals in game 6 but why? Skinny pedal to the right. We didn’t let up. While puck luck and bounces help and we appear to have each on our side, I believe the Kings have been making their luck. Akin to 2012, no lead is a comfortable one that causes the Kings to sit back. The forecheck must not change. The intent to make plays and not just throw the puck away to defend must remain. Home or away, game 1 or game 7, maintaining intensity means maintaining momentum and momentum makes 1 goal leads into 3 and puts games away.
In game 7 we shall play.
Make them pay.
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