The Kings and Sharks just played what had to be one of the closest seven game series in NHL history.
The similarity in their underlying numbers is uncanny. At 5v5, both teams scored 17 goals and posted a .903 save percentage. The Sharks only logged one more shot on goal and only two more unblocked shots.
It truly was a great (and draining) seven games. Let's take a quick look at the numbers behind it before we move onto previewing the next series against Anaheim.
5v5 Underlying Numbers
|San Jose Sharks||17||17||50%||305||326||48.30%||242||240||50.2%||176||175||50.1%||9.7%||90.3%||99.9|
|Los Angeles Kings||17||17||50%||326||305||51.70%||240||242||49.8%||175||176||49.9%||9.7%||90.3%||100.1|
- With the series so close one at even strength, one of the big edges in the results for the Kings actually ended up being on special teams. LA converted on 25% of their power plays, while the Sharks were only able to convert 12.5% of the time. It wasn't really the play of the Kings defense that was able to nullify the Sharks power play. San Jose was able to generate a ton of shots. LA got it done with goaltending. Quick was incredible while the team was shorthanded, while Sharks goalies struggled.
- Goaltending itself was a pretty huge factor that swung the series. After struggling at the start, Jonathan Quick's goaltending soared over the final four games. In the Kings first three losses they posted a .847 save percentage at 5v5. Over then last four, Quick's save percentage shot up to .956.
- Sharks goalies trended in the exact opposite direction. In the first three games, they recorded a .920 save percentage at 5v5. Over the final 4, it sunk to .890.
Head-to-Head Possession Results
- It was pretty interesting how Todd McLellan used his defensemen. He gave the most time to Dan Boyle who he also tried to keep away from the Kings top six. He either had reservations about Boyle defensively and/or he wanted to utilize his offensive abilities to bolster the Sharks depth lines. Odd because it looks like Boyle gave the Kings top six fits.
- The trend of the Sharks keeping Thornton away from Kopitar in San Jose continued in this series. And for good reason. Kopitar had a +8 Corsi rating against Thornton in this series and is now +32 against him over 29 games in the last three seasons and post-seasons.
- Drew Doughty had an incredible series. He spent over 70% of his time against the Sharks top six and has been among the league leaders in ice time. The Kings were able to do a lot of damage to the Sharks' questionable bottom six when doughty was on ice against them.
- Speaking of the Sharks bottom six, one of the series' pivotal moves was moving Richards down the the fourth line. Although, the Sharks fourth line initially gained acclaim by scoring big goals, it belied the fact that they were getting destroyed in puck possession. Mike Richards getting time against them shook him out of his slump and he became a force against very easy competition.
- Another huge factor was the injury to Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Vlasic went largely under the radar as one of the league's best defensemen this season. When he went down the Sharks' lack of defensive depth got exposed. That lack of depth mainly represented itself in the play of Brad Stuart. You can see in the above possession chart that every single Kings unit was able to tilt the ice against him. Vlasic going down meant hard matchups and more ice time for Stuart and the Kings took advantage.