A pattern has begun to emerge in the way the Sharks play games in their Stanley Cup playoff run. They win the first game of the series handily, then drop the second contest before heading on the road.
The Sharks’ Western Conference final matchup with the St. Louis Blues already has started to follow that trend, with San Jose taking the opening game 6-3 at SAP Center on Saturday.
The big focus now, of course, is not losing to St. Louis in Game 2 on Monday night.
“It’s important,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said after the Game 1 victory. “We’ve won Game 1 the last two series, and then both times, we’ve dropped Game 2. Hopefully, as you work your way through the playoffs, you learn from your mistakes.”
This isn’t to say the Sharks have been steamrolled in their Game 2 matchups. But they have taken their foot off the gas and ended up on the losing end of the puck.
In their second game against the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round, San Jose erased a three-goal deficit before the first period was over, then lost momentum in the second when Logan Couture’s goal was waived off for goalie interference. The Sharks ended up losing 5-3.
In their second game against the Colorado Avalanche in the next round, the Sharks jumped out to a 1-0 lead after the first period, then faltered in the second and ended up losing 4-3.
San Jose has lost just two games in its home stadium through these playoffs, both of which were those Game 2 losses. This is something the Blues no doubt have in mind, especially considering they have been incredibly successful on the road through their own playoff run, going 5-2-0 in enemy territory.
“We would like to go up 2-0,” Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. “We know they’re going to be ready. They’re going to come out with a good push and their legs will be a little bit better. So it’s a lesson for us that we’ve got to invest early and stay with this.”
St. Louis isn’t a team that will down without a fight — which it demonstrated quite well in Game 1 with its heavy and physical play. With the threat of going down 2-0 on the line, the Blues likely will come out even harder and tighten up their defensive stance in front of young goaltender Jordan Binnington.
It will be up to the Sharks to not sit back as they did in their previous Game 2s and head out on the road with two wins under their belt.
“You know they’re going to be better and they’re going to be desperate,” DeBoer said of the Blues. “They’re not going to want to go in a 2-0 hole. We’ve got to handle that situation better than we have in the first two rounds.”
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Source: NBC Bay Area