PITTSBURGH -- Now that the San Jose Sharks know what they're up against, the question is, will they be better against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports)?
Former Philadelphia Flyers coach Craig Berube says yes.
"I think they understand after playing them one time what they have to do to create [offensive] zone time," Berube said. "I expect they'll have it in Game 2."
The Sharks didn't have nearly enough zone time in the first or third period in Game 1 and it cost them in a 3-2 loss.
The Penguins outshot the Sharks 41-26 for the game, but it was 33-13 in the first and third combined. The Penguins outscored the Sharks 3-0 in those two periods. The Sharks had a 13-8 edge in shots in the second period, which is when they scored their goals.
"The Penguins, obviously their speed was a huge factor," Berube said. "They looked like they had a lot more jump than the Sharks. The Sharks made a good push in the second period to tie it up, but clearly the Penguins had a lot more jump in their game in the third and used their speed really well."
Berube said the Sharks may have been tired in the third period.
"Maybe just because of the speed of the Penguins and chasing them, but it's the first game and it's not alarming," Berube said. "The Sharks recovered. I expect the Sharks to check a lot better in Game 2. That's when they're effective, when they're really checking."
The Penguins nearly were impossible to check in the first period and for good portions of the third because of their speed, particularly because of how good their defensemen were at eluding the Sharks' forecheck.
Berube said a good example was defenseman Justin Schultz's play that led to forward Bryan Rust's goal at 12:46 of the first period, which gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead.
The Penguins chipped the puck up the boards and Schultz went with it, skating fast to create a 3-on-2. He got the puck from Rust and put a shot toward the net that was blocked by Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic. The puck caromed to Rust, who was able to put it in.
"Schultz did a great job of jumping by the forecheck," Berube said. "He moved the puck, jumped by it and got up the ice to create a 3-on-2. They did a good job that way. Their [defenseman] jumped by the forecheck, moved the puck, moved it up and joined the rush. That creates opportunities."
Berube also was impressed by the Penguins' ability to block shots. They had 21 in Game 1, including six from Nick Bonino, who scored the game-winning goal. The Penguins were averaging 16.4 blocks per game in the playoffs entering the Cup Final.
Sharks defenseman Brent Burns had five of his game-high 13 shot attempts blocked by the Penguins. Fellow defensemen Roman Polak and Brenden Dillon each had four shot attempts blocked.
"That's going to be key, a real key in this series for them, especially with Burns," Berube said. "Look at the Sharks' second goal [Patrick Marleau's wraparound]. He gets that shot through and it creates all kinds of problems. It's very important that they do front pucks and block them. The Penguins' [defensemen] have done a good job of getting out far enough to block the shots, and that's important. If you look at the last series for the Sharks, how many tipped goals did they get? They're good at it. That's one of the ways they score goals and it's going to be important that the Penguins continue to front those pucks and get blocks. You do that and it creates odd-man rushes the other way."
There's nothing to suggest the Penguins won't be fast and elusive and excellent at filling the shooting lanes again in Game 2. But Berube won't buy into the Sharks being a pushover because of how Game 1 went.
"I think they'll be fine in the next game," he said.