This is the area where I could talk about Drew Doughty and shower him with compliments. How it is time for him to be a Norris Trophy winner. That the PHWA should give him the award to get it over and done with but unfortunately this is not that section of the article. In fact you won't find that section of the article. This is just a good old fashioned evaluation of both teams blue lines. Go somewhere else for your Drew Doughty fixation.
We don't have a lot to evaluate defensemen with overall. We use proxies like the possession stats, it paints the best possible pictures for us and we are able to get a peek behind the curtain into what they do for their team. If the best defense is a good offense, the Sharks may have this series in the bag. The top three possession defensemen are as follows: Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Dylan DeMelo.
DeMelo may have zero even strength points on the season but the man does have himself some good possession stats, with some very favorable zone starts. Interesting. He may end up being a better defensive option then say Roman Polak, for example. For the Sharks to win this season they are not going to be able to miss on these type of match ups. Peter DeBoer is an experienced coach but the pressure cooker of this series may not do him any favors.
Much like the Sharks, the Kings are very top heavy on the back end. Players like the son of Paul and Connie Doughty do very well possession-wise and help set the tone. Looking down at the bottom pair the team leaves themselves gravely exposed. Rob Scuderi was traded multiple times this season and it wasn't because he was a coveted asset. Each team was looking for someway to get him the hell away from their team. He has "leadership" and "grit" which will mean absolutely nothing when Joe Pavelski dangles around him for a goal.
Alec Martinez is reportedly going to be back for game one on Thursday which should allow for players to slot into their correct slots and alleviate any pressure that may be facing the team. It can't be overstated how great a player returning from injury can be for a team. Players playing in appropriate roles allow for a team to play efficiently and much like a well oiled machine.
The Sharks will get the effect with the return of Vlasic. Who knows whether or not he will be rusty, regardless he will need to hop into the lineup and be the player of old. Both teams have significant players defensively but they will render one another null and void. The bottom pairing defensemen, if not up to snuff, could be constantly exploited. Coaches like DeBoer and Sutter know this, it will be an ongoing storyline to watch as the series progresses.