Even with losses in four of their last five games the Los Angeles Kings held on and earned the 6th position in the NHL playoffs, finishing two points on top of the Minnesota Wild. The Kings 6th place finish has set up one of the most eagerly anticipated first round playoff matchups, a rematch of last year’s second round series between the Kings and the San Jose Sharks. Last season the Kings defeated the Sharks in seven spirited games, a series were the home team won each matchup. By virtue of an outstanding regular season the Sharks will have home ice advantage.Season Series: The Kings held the advantage in the season series between the two teams, three games to two. The Kings won one of the three games played in San Jose, a 1-0 shutout by Jonathan Quick on January 27th. The Sharks won the last game between the two teams, a 2-1 win on April 3. Other than a 4-1 Kings victory on December 19th all of the games were decided by a goal, indicative of just how closely matched the two teams are. The tight games in the season series mirror last year’s playoff matchup in which all seven games of the series were decided by just a lone goal.
San Jose Sharks- who to watch: The Sharks feature a deep roster of veterans that has been together through several playoff appearances. The aging combination of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are still strong performers along with young stars such as Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Brent Burns. Pavelski led the Sharks in scoring this season with 41 goals, while Marleau contributed 33. Right Wing Brent Burns, a former defenseman, and Couture give the Sharks tremendous size and speed up front with both scoring over 20 goals this season.Why the Kings will win: The Sharks had a better regular season, but the NHL playoffs are a whole new season and the Los Angeles Kings are built for the playoffs. Stanley Cups are won with good goaltending and the Kings have an advantage in net with Jonathan Quick. Quick has proven time and time again that he performs best in pressure situations and should have the advantage over Antii Niemi. Niemi had a strong overall regular season but has struggled in the month of April. The Sharks will need their veteran goaltender to be in strong form. Offensively the Kings have benefited from the acquisition of Marian Gaborik, a trade deadline pickup from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Garborik has scored 15 points in 18 games as a member of the Kings, giving their offense an additional component. The key for Los Angeles is earning a victory in San Jose to wrest home ice advantage away from the Sharks.
Prediction: Kings in six.
More Information On This Barry’s Tickets Giveaway!
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BY: Chris M.