[Open Thread] Sharks Gameday: I Love L.A.
|24-3-2, 50 points||13-12-4, 30 points|
|1st in Pacific Division||4th in Pacific Division|
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[Update 4:47 PM]: Link should go live around 7:30- if it's broken let us know in the comments.
The Los Angeles Kings have been pretty terrible for awhile now, but it's not as if the Sharks have had too a lot of overall success playing them lately (emphasis on overall- we'll get to that later). I think we went about .500 last season against our basement-dwelling brethren, which isn't something to write home about in the grand scheme of things, and frankly should be a cause for concern in about two years- the Kings are loaded with burgeoning young talent that will pave the way into the future. Maybe they can woo Gretzky into coming back so they can lose in the Stanley Cup Finals again and start the awful cycle once more.
In a sick way, I can almost emphasize with Kings fans due to this- the Sharks have been really good lately, but have had some real disheartening performances in the playoffs. The Kings have been really bad lately (which comes with some huge drawbacks), but at least there hasn't been that feeling of utter helplessness in May. Hell, by the time the playoffs start most Kings fans are just pulling into the arena parking lot fashionably late.
They're two completely different situations, but I tend to associate the two.
[Editor's Note]: Remember your SPG Picks for a chance to win a Sharks Banner courtesy of Carrol's Cove.
Although last season didn't feature an overwhelmingly dominance over LA, the Sharks have absolutely made a mockery of home ice advantage in the Staples Center since Bettman allowed the league to shut down in 2004, going 10-3-0 while outscoring the Kings 45-29. For some reason we had trouble beating Kopitar & Co. at home last season, but we had trouble beating everyone at home so I'm content with shrugging it off as one of those things that just happened*.
*Sort of like that morning you woke up next to a potential sumo wrestler and got the hell out of dodge immediately, but ended up scribbling down your number on some spare toilet paper just in case your friends went out of town for the weekend.
I've had the opportunity to catch a few Kings game this season through my Center Ice Package, and they honestly look like a decent team. They're riding a three game win streak, which may sound insignificant to all us spoiled-rotten Sharks fans, but it's a stepping stone that could propel them to an eventual playoff push. It seems like an outside shot (without a premier goal scorer and shaky goaltending), but Jack Johnson should be coming back into their lineup soon which would be a huge boost to their surprisingly adept blueline. I have no idea how they've managed to be one of the better defensive teams in the league, as they were terrible last year and the preseason depth chart looked like an absolute disaster. But lo and behold they kill penalties pretty well and keep enough pucks out of the net to be competitive.
I wouldn't put my money on it but with less games against Anaheim and San Jose this season (as well as the Stars being downright embarrassing), they could make enough noise to be battling for an eighth spot in April.
All that being said, I love our chances tonight. The Kings don't have enough firepower to outduel the Sharks, who might be playing the best hockey we have ever seen in San Jose. Let's get this week started on the right foot.
Prediction: Sharks win 3.46 to 2.23, continuing their past performances in the Staples Center. Goals by Blake, Thornton, McGinn and Grier (who scores an empty netter as the clock runs out that ends up being disallowed).