Kings/Sharks: Game #6 Preview
Kings Roster Notes: No changes to the lineup.
Sharks Roster Notes: Antti Niemi is still the starter. McLellan hasn't stated whether Eager, McGinn, or even Ferriero will be playing on the 4th line.
***Extra reminder: the puck drops at 7 PM at Staples tonight, not 7:30.***
As we expected, the scoring chance analysis from Game 5 is not pretty (though we offer our continued thanks to C&B for providing it). Terry Murray says he's not worried about giving up 52 shots, because he divides scoring chances into Grade A and Grade B; and as far as Grade A chances go, he claims, there were 'only' 12-15 of them. Okay then.
I understand why the Kings went into prevent-mode, and it's good that they didn't let a lot of the Sharks' cross-ice passes or backdoor plays through. But they still spent too much time hemmed up in their zone, and couldn't sustain much pressure on the counter-attack. Hopefully there can be a happy medium between their play in Game #5 and run-and-gun.
After all, good things could happen in the offensive zone. That's where the Sharks' D can make terrible turnovers, and that's where Niemi's mind can snap like a Twix bar.
*Kyle Clifford-Brad Richardson-Wayne Simmonds saw the most time against the Thornton line last time out, and has collectively generated the most shots (35) and goals (6) for the Kings in this series. Not too shabby for the Wild West Gang, since they only play 11-15 minutes. (NB: Start calling Cliffy "The Sheriff" immediately.)
As I noted in my first preview, the Sharks' 2nd and 3rd lines typically generate the most shots, while Thornton and Marleau tie up the toughest competition; their depth at center is phenomenal. Each of our remaining centers is being pushed to the limit, and TM is trying to balance their weaknesses and strengths. Lewis and Richardson are facing the most time against the top lines, but Handzus and Stoll are (per usual) being given the most defensive-zone draws. Fortunately for the Kings, both rebounded in the faceoff circle in a big way -- Zeus won 50%, and Stolly killed it at 88%.
The Sharks are counting on Niemi doing a 180 and Quick not being able to repeat, but will the Kings give up that many shots again? We shall see. It's time to borrow a bowl of Jonathan's Wheaties and go out and win one on home ice.