|San Jose Sharks||Los Angeles Kings|
|5-on-5 Save %||.927||8th||.912||19th|
|# of PP's/Gm||3.52||7th||3.45||10th|
|# of PK's/Gm||3.06||7th||3.35||14th|
These are two high-quality teams, and the goaltending edge may provide San Jose's best hope for success. Both squads are used to dictating the flow of play, so keep an eye on how the battle for puck possession plays out.
The SB Nation Blogs
Regardless of how this series turns out, California will send a team to the Western Conference Finals for the sixth time in the past eight seasons. That's an impressive run for the Golden State, and a testament to the quality of California's only two hockey teams: the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks.
San Jose Sharks
After feasting on the Vancouver Canucks to the tune of a four-game sweep, the Sharks are hoping to go on another deep run in the playoffs, having made it to the Western Conference Final in three of the last eight seasons. Patrick at Fear the Fin doesn't appear to be intimidated by this matchup:
Sharks will win this series because they are a completely different team from years past and have finally found their grit. Well, except that their core team of Marleau, Thornton, Boyle, Vlasic, Couture, Pavelski... Ah wait...$%!&... This team hasn't reinvented itself. They are using the same formula that they were using that lead to a lot of success in the 2010-2011 season. Lots of forward depth through center, and putting pucks on net. Shocking.Anything can happen over a small number games, but one thing is for sure that this playoff matchup will be entertaining. This isn't the same Kings the sharks faced a couple years ago in the first round. Despite a lot of the stats blogosphere gushing over the kings regular season performance, they collapsed a bit down to earth, thanks in part to some questionable GM moves.
The guy who's driving the bus right now for San Jose is Joe Pavelski, who lit up the scoreboard in the first round with four goals and four assists in four games:
|2012 - Joe Pavelski||48||16||15||31||+2||10||5||0||5||130||12.3|
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings' series against St. Louis was one of the more entertaining of the opening round, with many observers regretting the fact that one of the two teams had to be eliminated so early. What remains to be seen is whether that series took some starch out of the Kings, or served as the figurative whiff of smelling salts that launches a spirited title defense by the reigning Stanley Cup champions.
At JFTC, they're musing about the possible matchups on defense and how that might tip the series:
Each team uses their defensive corps in different ways. The Sharks have rolled their defense evenly across the Kings forward units and in general Marc-Edouard Vlasic (1st pair) and Brad Stuart (3rd pair) get the most defensive zone starts. The Kings, on the other hand, heavily shelter their 3rd pair and charge Doughty with keeping the Thornton line at bay.
Doughty has found a lot of success against Thornton, as evidenced by his +18 shot attempt differential against him over the past two seasons. If that is indeed the route Sutter takes, then it could leave the Kings' 2nd pair exposed against Logan Couture. Couture has had Slava Voynov's number over the past two seasons. If Voynov can find a way to close that gap in these possession numbers, that would go a long way in helping the Kings take the series.
|2012 - Slava Voynov||48||6||19||25||+5||14||1||0||2||79||7.6|
San Jose Sharks vs Los Angeles Kings TV schedule
|Tuesday, May 14||9:00 p.m.||Los Angeles||NBCSN, TSN|
|Thursday, May 16||9:00 p.m.||Los Angeles||NBCSN, TSN|
|Saturday, May 18||8:00 p.m.||San Jose||NBCSN, TSN|
|Tuesday, May 21||9:00 p.m.||San Jose||NBCSN, TSN|
|* Thursday, May 23||TBD||Los Angeles||NBCSN, TSN|
|* Sunday, May 26||TBD||San Jose||TBD|
|* Tuesday, May 28||TBD||Los Angeles||TBD|
OTF Staff Picks
|Dirk||Los Angeles||The Kings are downright dreamy, and they'll put the Sharks to sleep.|
|Jonathan||Los Angeles||Both teams earned their first round wins, but San Jose was greatly helped by the trainwreck that was Vancouver. Goaltending won't be an issue in this series, it will come down to the best players being the best players and the other guys stepping up after that. The Kings are already adept at that and, while these games will be tight and hard fought, eventually the Champs most recent experience is going to prevail. Kings in 6.|
|Chris||Los Angeles.||Kings are proving to be more intractable than everyone thought. Thought their top players did struggle at times, the Kings finally seem to be back on track. I expect to see these guys in the conference finals and are the only guys that could potentially beat the Hawks. Kings in 6|
|George||San Jose||Patrick Marleau has been the big game player of late that the organization always hoped he would be, and the Sharks are hungry to shake off bad performances in previous playoffs. The Kings had a better goals per game than the Sharks did during the regular season, but the Sharks have better special teams, and Vezina nominee Antti Niemi, who will steal a couple of games for them. San Jose in 7.|
|Jason||San Jose||I don't know what some of you guys are thinking. Stone cold lock.|