The San Jose Sharks, down 2-0 in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final, will try to avoid falling into a 0-3 hole tonight in Game 3 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Tonight will be the first Stanley Cup Final game in history in San Jose, and you know the fans will be ready.
The Sharks are a league-best 7-2 at home in the playoffs; the Penguins are 5-3 on the road. California-based clubs have posted an 11-1 home record in the Stanley Cup Final since 2003 (Anaheim 6-0, Los Angeles 5-1).
Peter DeBoer's Devils did get into a 0-3 hole in 2012 to the Kings (in fact the Kings had 3-0 leads in each of their eventual Stanley Cup championships) before losing in Game 6.
Teams leading the Stanley Cup Final 3-0 have won the series 26-of-27 times (96.3%) since the NHL implemented the best-of-seven format in 1939. The only club to overcome a 3-0 series deficit to win the Stanley Cup was the 1942 Maple Leafs (vs. DET).
The Sharks have suffered a big blow. DeBoer said this morning that winger Tomas Hertl, arguably San Jose's best skater in the series (I say skater because goalie Martin Jones has been the reason why Pittsburgh has won a pair of one-sided, only, one-goal games) won't play tonight.
Hertl has got a little something, DeBoer says. Dangerous to assume in sports writing, but he had trouble getting to his skates after being crushed in Game 2 by Patric Hornqvist near the referee's crease.
Dainius Zubrus, a scratch in Game 2 when Matt Nieto returned to San Jose's lineup, is expected to draw back in for Hertl.
Jones vs. Matt Murray tonight. It'll be important for the Sharks to make this a much harder game for the young Murray, who was pretty insolated and untested at home in Pittsburgh. This is Murray's first time ever in California, he said, so he's still a wide-eyed kid.
The Sharks have scored three goals in the series, one of which was from Hertl.
DeBoer had a terrific anecdote to say this morning about the late Muhammad Ali:
I just want to end with a quick thing on Muhammad Ali. Lost a great person. The reason I want to speak about him, I'm not a collector of sports memorabilia, but I have three things in my basement. I have a Wayne Gretzky stick, a Bobby Orr print, a Mike Weir Masters print, and I have a Koran signed by Muhammad Ali.
I wouldn't normally share this with you, but I think considering the circumstances today. I got it 30 years ago. I was at my prom at the Royal Connaught Hotel in Hamilton. I was a 17-year-old kid. Had my tux on. I was in the lobby. Muhammad Ali walked in with his entourage. He was there for some type of appearance.
I asked one of the entourage if I could meet him with my friends. He said to give him a minute. He came back to me and he said, Muhammad Ali is up in this room. Meet him up in his room in five minutes.
Me and three or four of my buddies went up to the room. He got out a Koran for each of us. He wasn't preaching or trying to convert us, he just personalized each one for us, asked us some questions about what we were doing.
It was an unbelievable life experience for me. I think, considering the circumstances, how this guy transcended not just boxing and sport, but how many people he's touched, it's an appropriate story to tell. I know you guys have the time, too, to listen (laughter).
Here is Penguins coach Mike Sullivan on Ali:
Well, he might be one of the most impactful athletes in this past century. He's obviously a charismatic guy, did a lot for the sport of boxing.
I think he'll be, at least from my experience, known not just for how great of an athlete he was, but for the impact that he had in a social aspect as well.
He's always been known for his witty quotes. I view some of them myself in coaching some of our teams. Just I think his personality in combination with how great of an athlete he was certainly allowed him to have the impact that he's had on sports, not just boxing.
Also, the Wild's Matt Dumba paid his respects on Twitter: