As has been the norm, almost all the playoff series has been physical affairs. Over the first three contests, the two teams handed out 260 hits between them with the Sharks collecting two more in that category.
Penalty Boxes Were Very Populated
With both teams enjoying 29 power plays the play was intensely physical as both teams wanted to show their brute power. Yet, there have been only eight man-advantage goals scored in the series.
The most notable scoring play was when right wing Joe Pavelski had a Brent Burns shot deflect off his chin into the net in Game one. He was in such pain that he headed straight to the dressing room for repairs. He was able to continue playing in the second period donning a full face shield for protection.
One line leads all scorers in the 2018-19 NHL playoffs. The line of Paul Stastny, Max Pacioretty, and Mark Stone are dominating offensively with 22 points between the trio. Stone is the playoffs leading goal scorer with six goals in three games. He collected a hat trick in Game three won by the Vegas Golden Knights 6-3.
The leading scorer for the San Jose Sharks going into Game four is Erik Karlsson with five assists. After the first game, the Sharks have not been able to match the Golden Knights formidable scoring prowess. The Vegas club is averaging 4.33 goals a game and the Sharks had better step up their defence if they intend to get back into this series.
To be realistic the goaltending has been quite poor. In Game two the Golden Knights had a comfortable 3-0 lead after just over six minutes of play. Yet, they allowed the Sharks back in the game by allowing three unanswered goals in a wild first period. It only took the San Jose team 2:09 to even the game near the end of the first stanza with the last goal coming with just 52 seconds remaining.
Both goalies have undistinguished statistics in this wild series. Marc-Andre Fleury has a 3.35 goals against average with a surprising .897 save percentage. His counterpart, Martin Jones fares worse with a 5.23 goals against average and a less than admirable .849 save percentage.
Vegas Golden Knights Playing Well
The series lead belongs to the Golden Knights due to their ability to match the San Jose Sharks physically, but mostly due to their explosive scoring talents.
Mark Stone is on fire and the Vegas management must have a huge smile on their faces since they were not only able to trade for him but sign him to an eight-year contract. He has been the dominating force along with his linemates, Stastny and Pacioretty.
Stone has been in the right place at the right time and if the San Jose Sharks don’t figure him and his linemates out they will out of this series in a short time.
This writer predicted that the San Jose Sharks would prevail in six games. That prediction looks shaky at best with the way the Vegas Golden Knights are playing after three games. The all-important Game four will either keep the Sharks in this series or give the Golden Knights a huge 3-1 lead after four games.
If the Golden Knights can continue their offensive dominance they will prevail in this series. The Sharks aren’t exactly bait just yet. They have some fight left in them, but is it enough to overwhelm a Vegas team hitting on all cylinders?
The new prediction is Vegas Golden Knights in six.