Jewels From the Crown managing editor Eric Kveton and I exchanged some questions, and some answers, about the upcoming Sharks-Kings series. You can see my answers to his questions over at Jewels. You can also follow Eric on Twitter @EricJFTC. He's a nice guy once you forget he's a Kings fan.
Q: What makes you most nervous about facing the Sharks?
Brent Burns. The good news is that LA has time to prepare for the unique challenge Burns presents; the bad news is that Burns has seven points in five games against LA and has improved his defensive play to boot.
Q: What's the key matchup in this series?
In the past, Joe Thornton and Anze Kopitar haven't always faced off directly, but this year, Thornton has spent more time against Anze Kopitar than any other opponent this season. Thornton's winning so far; he's got a 59.7% Corsi For% at 5-on-5 play against Kopitar this year, though I'd wager that more shifts have started in LA's zone than in San Jose's. Regardless, this is the first year they've truly gone head-to-head, and whoever wins out will probably see his team triumph as well.
Q: What's the Kings' biggest weakness?
The defensive depth. Alec Martinez's injury has illuminated how shaky LA's depth on the blueline is; Drew Doughty's going to be great in his 30+ minutes a night, but Jake Muzzin has struggled in Martinez's absence, and increased responsibility for Luke Schenn and (gulp) Rob Scuderi spells trouble.
Q: A lot was made about the deal for Schenn and Lecavailer, how have they fit in this season?
Schenn was acquired as a Matt Greene replacement, and he's been performing exactly to those expectations. His PK play has been solid if unspectacular, his possession numbers are tolerable given his tough zone starts, and he hits people. Lecavalier has obviously slowed down and has struggled from a possession standpoint, but he's been a major contributor on the power play and his hands are still there. Both helpful, but neither transformative.
Q: Series prediction?
Kings in 7. Why would we pick anything else?
Q: Can Martin Jones and Tyler Toffoli's relationship handle this series?
A: Nothing can break the bond between two men who once went zip-lining together in matching shirts. After Game 7, they'll walk to the Sprinkles six blocks away, Toffoli will buy Jones a dozen cupcakes as either a congratulations or an apology, and all will be well.