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Sharks vs. Kings Preview: Wrapping up the road trip

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The Sharks and Kings renew their rivalry tonight in Los Angeles, as both teams look to get back in the win column in their final game before the holiday break.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Sharks could use an early Christmas (or Festivus) present, ideally in the form of a win tonight against the rival Los Angeles Kings. Tonight, San Jose tries to end its five-game road trip with a winning record, and head into the holiday break on a high note.

December hasn't been very festive for San Jose. The Sharks have lost eight of ten games in 2015's final month, which has hurt in the standings. They now trail Los Angeles in first place in the Pacific Division by eight points. The Sharks have been better lately, but are on the verge of another losing streak after poor goaltending and defensive miscues cost them wins in their last two games.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, has lost three of its last four games, and hasn't had control of the puck that they're used to, as they've lost the possession battle at even strength in two of their last four. But, don't let that fool you: they are still a juggernaut. Despite their recent struggles, the Kings still lead the league in score-adjusted corsi, and rank second in score-adjusted fenwick, meaning the Sharks once again have their work cut out for them as they look to end the road trip with a win.

Tale Of The Tape
San Jose Sharks

@

Los Angeles Kings (2012 - Pres)
16-15-2 Record 20-10-2
2nd in Pacific Rank 1st in Pacific
51.5%
Score-Adj. Fenwick 55.7%
99.1
PDO 100
19.8 PP% 17.6
83.2 PK% 85.0

7:30 PM PDT | Staples Center | Los Angeles, California
TV: NBCSN Radio: SJSharks.com98.5 KFOX
Know Your Enemy: Jewels from the CrownBattle of California

Last Meeting

The Kings jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, downing the Sharks 4-1 as they avenged their opening night loss.

Storylines

  • Melker Karlsson is expected to return tonight, but Joel Ward is doubtful to play. Karlsson's return gives the Sharks a full complement of forwards, which they didn't have last game. Peter DeBoer dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen, but strangely didn't give Matt Tennyson a single minute of ice time.
  • I wonder if Karlsson's return pushes Zubrus off of the top line, but I'm not so sure that it should. Since moving to the top line against Montreal, Zubrus has posted a positive score-adjusted corsi in each of the last four games, while Pavelski and Thornton haven't dipped below 60%. Simply put, the top line's controlling play at a high rate, and DeBoer would be wise to keep it intact.
  • The Kings have an extra day of rest on the Sharks after getting thumped in Toronto on Saturday, and they hope that means their offense starts to rebound. Over their last four games, Los Angeles has scored on just seven of its 123 shots, good for an on-ice shooting percentage of 5.7%. Even though the Kings have the fourth-lowest shooting percentage in the league, they're still shooting 2.0% below their season average, meaning they could be due for regression fairly soon.