With the playoffs on the horizon, I wanted to put together previews of each series, but more specifically, I wanted to put together the type of previews I’d want to read. Bite-sized, few stats, and little splash of opinion for seasoning. This is my attempt at providing that.
5) Los Angles Kings vs. 6) San Jose Sharks
Head-to-Head in 2013: Split, with both teams winning their two home games.
A stat: This is the first time the Kings have had home ice advantage since 1992, according to NHL.com.
*** ALL STATS REGULAR SEASON ***
Goal differentials: Los Angeles: +15, San Jose: +8
Shots-per-game: Los Angeles: 29.8 (12th), San Jose: 31.8 (4th)
Shots-against-per-game: Los Angeles: 25 (3rd), San Jose: 29 (15th)
LAK: Jonathan Quick, .902 save percentage, 2.45 goals-against-average
SJS: Antti Niemi: .924 save percentage, 2.16 goal-against average
LAK: Anze Kopitar, 42 points in 47 games
SJS: Joe Thornton, 40 points in 48 games
Reason to watch: I’m curious to see if San Jose can hang with the Kings, who are suddenly making people realize they’re just the same team that won the Cup last year. They’re solid everywhere. So while the games may be close (three of their four games this year were one-goal games), I wouldn’t be shocked if LA snuck every damn one out.
Lately: Kings beat the Blues in six, Sharks beat the Canucks in four
LAK: 19.9% (10th)
SJS: 20.1% (7th)
LAK: 83.2% (10th)
SJS: 85% (6th)
Special teams evaluation: Top 10 at everything, should be a good show.
Injuries (via NHL.com): “Sharks forward Adam Burish (upper body) is out. Forwards Martin Havlat (lower body) and Tommy Wingels (upper body) are questionable, as is defenseman Jason Demers (ankle). … Kings forward Kyle Clifford is questionable (undisclosed).”
First game: Tuesday, 10:00 p.m. EST
Flippant barstool opinion: Kings will win, it’s just a matter of how quickly than can get out of the series to avoid injuries.
That Sharks do have some players that can score, and they did put together a quick roster that can play tough, I just can’t think of a position I’d say “yep, they’re better than the Kings there.” The Kings advantage is that their guys who score are pretty rugged dudes who aren’t fun to play even when they aren’t running up numbers. Marleau, Thornton, not sure you can say the same.
Prediction: Kings in five
Your NHL.com preview: