The San Jose Sharks came away with the victory in Game 2 on Sunday night by a 3-2 final.
However, the Nashville Predators were the better team for the majority of the 60 minutes.
San Jose has now won six-of-their-first-seven playoff games en route to a 2-0 series lead over the Predators, but that doesn't mean everything is firing on all cylinders.
As former Sharks head coach Todd McLellan used to say, sometimes a team's game gets the sniffles before it becomes full blown sick.
Perhaps that applies to the Sharks at the moment.
San Jose managed to win, but barely, and didn't look very good doing it.
Thus far against Nashville, San Jose's bottom-six lines haven't played up to expectations. Particularly in Game 2, the third line with Matt Nieto, Patrick Marleau and Melker Karlsson struggled. Karlsson was a minus-8 in even strength shot attempt differential. Marleau wasn't much better at -5. Nieto actually was the best of that group at minus-2.
Late in Game 1 DeBoer sparked the bottom-six by swapping Nieto and Chris Tierney, but in Game 2 it was back to the Nieto, Marleau and Karlsson combination. Considering Tierney's minus-6 shot attempt differential on Sunday as the fourth line center, it doesn't seem like going back to Marleau-Tierney-Karlsson would fare any better long-term. Instead Deboer, should consider a different alteration.
In order to try and get the third line going, promoting Wingels to the third line with Marleau and Karlsson would be the best bet for a turn around. Before his late season injury, Wingels played a handful of strong games alongside Marleau and Karlsson. One of those games in particular came against the Kings in late March. Not only did Wingels set up Karlsson with a nice pass for an insurance goal late in the third period but that line with Marleau was buzzing all game long, easily San Jose's most effective trio in that game.
As things currently stand, the Marleau line is clearly struggling and one of the ingredients they are lacking is some energy and physical board play. Wingels brings that in spades and that type of tough play definitely rubs off on Marleau who often shies away from being physical. With Wingels next to him, Marleau often plays a more hard-nosed brand of hockey. Making this change is certainly worth a shot since right now the Marleau line is stone cold.
Get Demelo Some Action
Seventh defenseman Dylan Demelo was playing some phenemonal hockey on the third pair before the Sharks traded for veteran Roman Polak. The latter hasn't been terrible by any means, but he also hasn't been a positive difference maker either. In Game 2, Polak was by far the worst Sharks defenseman by shot attempt differential at minus-7. Brent Burns and Polak's partner Brenden Dillon were each minus-2.
In the third period when the Predators were trying to comeback, it was Polak out there chasing the more talented Predators shift after shift. Nashville's tying goal by Mattias Ekholm came with Polak and Dillon on the ice. Clearly, the Sharks prefer Polak to the rookie Demelo, but it certainly is worth getting Demelo into a game to keep him fresh and give the veteran Polak a night off.
We're talking about the sixth defenseman here, and the third pair struggled trying to break out of their own zone in Game 2, so a slight change in the lineup isn't a big deal. A lot of people will probably say they shouldn't make any lineup changes since they are still winning, but that is short-sighted. If there is a chance to make the team better, even during a winning streak, you do it. Demelo and Dillon built up tremendous chemistry and the right-handed rookie is far more adept at moving the puck than Polak.