The Sharks (24-13-7) showdown with the Los Angeles Kings (17-24-3) had all the ingredients to be a classic letdown game. The game came on the heels of an emotional win over the NHL’s top team where the Sharks played without three starting defensemen. The Kings entered the game ranked 15th in the Western Conference, cheap nhl jerseys china
an easy opponent to look past. The Sharks are also in middle of another grueling stretch, playing three games in four nights at home with a fourth game in six days coming up in Las Vegas on Thursday.
It would have been easy to set things on cruise control Monday night. Instead, the Sharks earned their third straight win, improving to 12-3-2 since Dec. 2.
“Playing against L.A. helped with that,” head coach Pete DeBoer said. “Have to show up and play a man’s game against them in order to have some success.”
Here’s what we learned in the Sharks 3-1 win at the Tank:
1. The Sharks lines are falling into place.
Pete DeBoer is hoping that Dec. 29, 2018 will be this season’s version of Jan. 9, 2016.
After a 2-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in 2016, DeBoer made a bold move, reshuffling his lines by sliding Patrick Marleau down to the third line center position for a bout with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He wanted to give the team a matchup edge in the depth of the lineup and he called Mr. Shark’s number.
The Sharks scored seven goals and DeBoer rode the line combinations he introduced that night into the Western Conference Final.
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He made a similar move in Edmonton last month, breaking up his best line, the combination of Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier, in hopes of creating third line mismatches. DeBoer knows that Stanley Cup winners tend to tilt the ice with their third lines (think about the Pittsburgh Penguins with Phil Kessel) and he’s been looking for the right mix since training camp.
First, he put Evander Kane with Antti Suomela and Joonas Donskoi. Suomela is playing with the AHL Barracuda now. Then, he skated Joe Thornton with Marcus Sorensen and Kevin Labanc, a combination that found success. But his new third line trio, Kane, Hertl and Donskoi, is proving to be a real handful for opponents.
“Our lines are playing well,” Erik Karlsson said. “We’re starting to find our roles.”
The line scored two more goals Monday, charging another Sharks win. Donskoi opened the scoring at 17:43 of the first, scoring his fifth goal in five games after netting just one in his previous 17 outings. The Finnish forward buried the rebound of a Kane shot, giving his linemate 14 points in his last 15 games.