It has taken an overtime period and a shootout to decide the first two games of this year's five-game season series between the Sharks and the Kings, and based on recent history, it won't surprise me if more time is needed again. The last time the Sharks won a game in Staples Center, the Kings hadn't won a Stanley Cup (4/5/12). The last time the Sharks won a game in regulation in Staples Center was April 23, 2011. It's been a long time.
Sharks/Kings has been one of the best matchups in the NHL for about three seasons. Nearly every game is close and you get the sense that the players take this rivalry as seriously as the fans do. Too often regional rivalries are ruined by one-sidedness, and while I'm sure some Sharks fans wouldn't mind seeing the Kings crash and burn, the rivalry is better when both teams are good.
The Kings are good. Really good.
San Jose and L.A. are number two and three in Fenwick-for (5v5, score close) this season, and the Kings have a slight lead in the Corsi department while relying on a lower PDO than the Sharks. That seems particularly remarkable given how well their netminders have played in the absence of Jonathan Quick. An article on NHL.com praised the Kings' "embarrassment of riches" in the net, and they have a point. Martin Jones and Ben Scrivens have been as good as Quick was awful before his injury.
Quick has been...shaky for the better part of two seasons and if I were a Kings fan I'd be hoping he gets the Alex Smith treatment when he returns. Of course, I hope Quick is the starter for the Kings for the next 10 years if he's only going to stop .905 of the shots that come his way.
|21-7-6, 48 points
||23-8-4, 50 points|
|3rd in Pacific
||2nd in Pacific
Projected Sharks Lineup
Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Tommy Wingels
James Sheppard - Joe Pavelski - Marty Havlat
John McCarthy - Andrew Desjardins - Mike Brown
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle
Brad Stuart - Jason Demers
Projected Kings Lineup
Dwight King- Anze Kopitar - Jeff Carter
Dustin Brown - Jarret Stoll - Justin Williams
Kyle Clifford - Mike Richards - Tyler Toffoli
Dan Carcillo - Trevor Lewis - Jordan Nolan
Jake Muzzin - Drew Doughty
Robyn Regehr - Slava Voynov
Alec Martinez - Matt Greene