Apr 3, 2014; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton (19) pushes Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin (6) during the third period at SAP Center at San Jose. The Sharks defeated the Kings 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

San Jose Sharks vs Los Angeles Kings Series Preview


One of the best series in the first round could end up being the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks.  This is a rematch of last season’s second round series that saw the Kings win in 7 games, with each game being won by the home team.  Here is a series preview.

SEASON SERIES

The Kings went 3-1-1 against the Sharks this year, and were the only team to win a road game in the series.

 

THE MATCHUPS

Goaltending

Both goalies have won Stanley Cups in the last 5 years.  Jonathan Quick won the Conn Smythe trophy while leading the Kings to the promised land just 2 years ago, while Antti Niemi was between the pipes for the Chicago Blackhawks cup win in 2010.

Defense

Drew Doughty is the key blueliner for the Kings, and should return after missing the final 4 games of the season.  Slava Voynov had a breakout playoff last year and Alec Martinez has stepped up this season to make a name for himself.

As for the Sharks, Marc-Edouard Vlasic can carry some experience with him from his Olympic Gold Medal, and Dan Boyle still carries a load offensively, but is becoming more of a power play specialist.

Offense

The Kings struggle to score goals, and play a grinding style with a balanced lineup.  The insertion of Tyler Toffoli into the lineup on a full time basis and acquisition of Marian Gaborik has helped, but a lot of the burden is still put on Marian Gaborik and Jeff Carter.

For the Sharks, Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski are primarily the big guns with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau supporting.  Rookie Tomas Hertl, who was probably the top freshman early on in the season, returned  for the last two games of the regular season after missing nearly 4 months with injury, and could be a factor at some point in the series.

Special Teams

Neither team is going to win on their power play alone, as both have been sub-par with the man advantage under 18%.  San Jose has a top 10 penalty kill, with the Kings in the middle of the pack.

 

INTANGIBLES

  • San Jose has long been a favorite, but has never been able to advance to the finals in this incarnation.  They were passed and surpassed by the Kings, which can’t sit well with the organization or its fan base.
  • Los Angeles always appears to be more than the sum of its parts, especially when it comes to the playoffs.

STORYLINES

  • This has largely been a homer series, and that favors the Sharks.
  • The Sharks might be running out of time, and the window might be closing.
  • LA has played 7 playoff rounds in the last 2 seasons, as many as any other team.

 

PREDICTION

While all signs point to the Sharks beating their down-state rivals, there is something about the Kings in the playoffs.

KINGS in 7

 

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WHO WILL WIN BETWEEN SAN JOSE AND LOS ANGELES

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Tags: Antti Niemi Drew Doughty Joe Thornton Jonathan Quick Playoff Preview Tyler Toffoli