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Sharks vs. Kings: John Scott is probably tall enough to pull the banner down

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He could totally reach that.

Harry How

Hockey is back and for its first cruel trick it will force the San Jose Sharks to relive the most devastating moment in franchise history. A little over five months to the day after the Sharks blew their seemingly insurmountable 3-0 playoff series lead against the Los Angeles Kings, they'll have to watch in agony as the Kings raise a Stanley Cup banner the Sharks were one measly win away from ensuring L.A. wouldn't claim.

You can thank Gary Bettman and the NHL's team of sadistic schedule-makers for much of this, as the league's commissioner proudly crowed at a press conference last week that having the Sharks start their season by returning to the scene of the crime wasn't an accident. It's a full-blown conspiracy as the great CTGray illustrates in this week's SharkToon:

opening night 2014 cartoon

For all the melodrama associated with the banner-raising though, there's still a real live NHL game with two points on the table against a division rival at stake for the Sharks tonight. It won't change what happened in April but raining on the Kings' parade the way the Blackhawks did the last time Los Angeles raised one of these banners to the rafters back in 2013 would go a long way to healing some still-open wounds. It won't quite be revenge but it's a start and that's all you can ask for as the Sharks take the ice against the team that not only eliminated San Jose from the playoffs but sent them into a tumultuous, confusing offseason.

In a lot of ways the Kings broke the Sharks last spring and it's now up to San Jose to pick up the pieces, starting tonight.

San Jose Sharks

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Los Angeles Kings
0-0-0, 0 points
0-0-0, 0 points
Tied-1st in Pacific
Tied-1st in Pacific

7PM PST | Staples Center | San Jose, California
TV: NBCSN, Sportsnet One | Radio: SJSharks.com, 98.5 KFOX
Know Your Enemy: Jewels From The Crown, The Royal HalfBattle Of California

Projected Sharks Lineup

Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Matt Nieto
Tye McGinn - Chris Tierney - Tommy Wingels
Andrew Desjardins - Adam Burish - Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Mirco Mueller - Brent Burns
Scott Hannan - Jason Demers

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

Projected Kings Lineup

Marian Gaborik - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown
Tanner Pearson - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli
Dwight King - Mike Richards - Justin Williams
Kyle Clifford - Jarret Stoll - Trevor Lewis

Jake Muzzin - Drew Doughty
Robyn Regehr - Slava Voynov
Alec Martinez - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick
Martin Jones