SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Perhaps lost in the awesome play of Joe Thornton's top line through three games of this series is that the San Jose Sharks could use a little more from the rest of the crew if they’re going to knock off the Los Angeles Kings.
"That's a bit of an understatement," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said Tuesday, his team up 2-1 in the series, with Game 4 going Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. ET.
"I think that's been consistent here over the years. The big guys are here. The one thing we've tried to create here is the depth underneath to be able to support that. For most nights this year, we've got it. I don't think we got enough of it last game."
The fourth line centered by Chris Tierney in Game 3 took three minor penalties, a total no-no for an energy line.
Logan Couture, whose second line was on the ice for Tanner Pearson's OT winner Monday night, answered before the question was finished on Tuesday when asked if non-Thornton lines need to step up. Playing with Thornton these days are wingers Tomas Hertl and captain Joe Pavelski.
"Yes, I think so, yeah,” Couture responded quickly. "I mean, Jumbo’s line has carried us so far. If you’re playing on my line, the third line or the fourth line, you want to step up and do something. You can't sit on the bench and watch Jumbo's line go out there and carry the play. Everyone else has to step up and do their part as well."
DeBoer shortened his bench in the third period, having seemingly lost confidence in his fourth line, but it’s not a long-term approach that's going to work, especially in a hard-hitting series that goes seven games like this one has the potential to do. You need to distribute minutes throughout your lineup in order to have some players still standing at the end of it.
"We need all four lines -- you don't win, you don't go anywhere nowadays without four lines," the Sharks' coach said. "We need four lines."
While the Kings continue to be tormented by Thornton’s top line, that unit again opening the scoring in Game 3, Los Angeles has done a decent job against the rest of the Sharks, and that shouldn’t go unnoticed.
The other part of their game that’s gone a bit under the radar is their power play, perhaps because San Jose’s is so much fun to watch and is so dangerous. But the Kings are 3-for-11 with the man advantage in the series, having scored a power-play goal in each of the games, while the Sharks, despite all their pressure and shot attempts and breathtaking puck movement, somehow are just 2-for-14. Mind you, as Kings head coach Darryl Sutter himself noted Tuesday, Hertl's goal in Game 1 was just after a power play expired, so it kind of felt like another one.
"These two teams are close, it’s close checking, if you look at it, it’s a power-play series," said Sutter. "Our power play has scored what now, in every game? And a shorthanded goal. And their power play only shows up as one [goal] in Game 1 but really it’s two. ... And one in Game 2. So it’s been power plays."
Which is why discipline is paramount with both teams’ power plays so dangerous.
"Not a penalty that was advisable," Sutter said.
In fact, the veteran coach could do without his team getting tangled in post-whistle shoving matches, of which there were many Monday night.
"It's not good to be engaged after the whistle," he said. "That's when guys with the stop signs get involved. It’s not good. You go whistle to whistle."
Easier said than done between two rivals who just don’t like each other.
"We've got to stay out of scrums," Couture said. "They've got guys who just want to throw some punches, and they feed off that. A couple of times it got away from us where we were punching them back. We’ve got to take it and move on."
Oh, yeah, it's on between those teams. Buckle up, everybody.