The San Jose Sharks face some pretty overwhelming odds now.
Conor Sheary's game-winning goal in overtime on Wednesday gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 2-1 Game 2 win and a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final. So few teams in NHL history have blown a playoff lead like that.
Only 12.7 percent, in fact! And based on eye tests and analytics, the Sharks have been thoroughly outplayed by the Penguins through the first two games. Winning four out of the next five games seems especially daunting at this point.
But it has been done. The Boston Bruins erased a 2-0 deficit to beat the Vancouver Canucks in 2011. And the Sharks get the next two games at home, where they're 7-2 this postseason. Home cooking won't be a cure-all; San Jose still faces plenty of questions that coach Pete DeBoer needs to answer.
How do the Sharks ramp up their speed game to match Pittsburgh? Which pairings can DeBoer use to counter the red-hot "HBK Line" of the Penguins? (Hint: definitely not Brenden Dillon or Roman Polak.) And which tactics can ensure the Sharks make the most of their opportunities?
Because that's how close this series still is. Results aside, the Sharks were a goal away in each game from coming out on top. San Jose faces a must-win in Game 3, but the situation isn't as dire as the odds will have you believe.
Penguins 2, Sharks 1 (PIT leads series, 2-0)
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3 things we learned
1. Sidney Crosby is a factor even when he doesn't rack up points
Crosby has become a strange superstar/pest/coach hybrid right before our eyes. Here he is bugging the hell out of Joe Thornton:
And then Crosby drew up the game-winning goal in overtime.
Sidney Crosby says the play that set up Conor Sheary's OT goal was drawn up on the ice right before. Told Letang not to one-time the puck.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 2, 2016
"Before the goal, Sid positioned us and told us what to do. We executed exactly what he wanted." – Kris Letang https://t.co/bZ7jeVZwS6— Dave Stubbs (@Dave_Stubbs) June 2, 2016
Sidney Crosby downplaying called play: "I call 25 face off (plays) a night so I got 24 wrong."— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 2, 2016
After the game, Mike Sullivan said Crosby is "inspiring for our group." It's not hard to see why.
2. The Sharks are starting to make excuses
Aside from Pete DeBoer's usual iciness with the media during postgame, Logan Couture had this to say about Sidney Crosby:
Logan Couture says Crosby wins offensive zone faceoffs so cleanly because he cheats. Says he gets away with it because of who he is.— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) June 2, 2016
First of all, he's not wrong. There were a few draws from Crosby Wednesday night that were questionable, at least. But superstars and veterans get away with that stuff more often than not. It's up to Couture and the Sharks to adjust accordingly. I also wouldn't read too much into that one quote. Surely Couture and the Sharks will find plenty to critique in their own game. But excuses are a sign of seeping frustration, no?
3. The Penguins are turning the neutral zone into a minefield
The cycle repeated over and over. San Jose would carry the puck out of their zone, get swarmed by defenders, dump the puck in and the Penguins would retrieve. Finding a safe route through center ice should be a priority in video sessions before Game 3.
One turnover early in the game summed up the Sharks' struggles in this series.
Tweets from Tony
Remember Tony, AKA @soloucity on Twitter, who fell in love with hockey during the Blues/Blackhawks Game 7? We're dedicating a section in our recaps to the gems of his Twitter account during the playoffs.
If there's anything I'm holding onto it will be my ot record. Thank you oshie.— Tony X. (@soIoucity) June 2, 2016
I might put that on my resume actually.— Tony X. (@soIoucity) June 2, 2016