|Los Angeles Kings||San Jose Sharks|
|5-on-5 Close SF/60||32.3||5th||33.1||2nd|
|5-on-5 Close SA/60||25.1||2nd||27.8||10th|
|5-on-5 Close Save %||.934||4th||.922||18th|
|# of PP's/Gm||3.46||5th||3.55||2nd|
|# of PK's/Gm||3.61||28th||2.67||1st|
The Battle of California is well and truly joined here in the first round, as two of the top Cup contenders meet in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. The Los Angeles Kings, of course are the 2012 Stanley Cup champs, and they have retained most of that powerful lineup. They're the best defensive team in the league, but at the same time they boast elite offensive talent in Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter.
The Sharks, meanwhile, have another strong regular season (this is the fourth time in the last seven full seasons that they've hit the 50-win mark), but the question as always is whether they have what it takes to go all the way. They've made it to the Western Conference Finals three times in the last 10 years, but until the push through to higher ground, there will always be a cloud hanging over Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and the rest of the Sharks.
These division rivals have only met twice in the playoffs so far, with each team winning once, including last year's Conference Semifinal victory by the Kings. During the regular season, Los Angeles won three of give meetings, but one of those was via shootout.
OTF Staff Picks
Dirk: This is the heavyweight battle of the opening round, and it's too bad that most fans will miss it because of the late starting times. I'll take the Kings in 7, and hope that San Jose kicks Todd McLellan to the curb so Nashville can take a run at him.
Jon: San Jose in 6. It's a shame two of these teams won't make it past this round. This one will be the hardest fought by far, especially with the revenge factor of last year. Tough, tough, pick but I'm going with Sharks because why not?
Jason: Sharks in 6. Full Disclosure: I'm from Northern California, and I've been to many, many games in San Jose. I also have a deep hatred for literally everything Southern California. Except Disneyland. It's ok, I guess.
George: San Jose in 5. The youth movement is alive at the Shark Tank, and like Joe Thornton said last summer, this is now Logan Couture's team. The Sharks have been to the dance too many times and fell short to not really be pushing to close the deal this year. The Kings of this year are not the Kings of yore, and goaltending will be the biggest factor in this series. Plus, if the Sharks pull it off in 4, Jumbo Joe will rock out with his....well, you know.
Jeremy: Kings in 6. San Jose will once again fall in predictable fashion...always the bridesmaid...The Kings are built like the Bruins of the West. Very strong up the middle, at the blue line and in goal. Look for Anze Kopitar to spoil the Sharks post-season plans.
Kings vs Sharks Schedule
|Game||Date||Time (ET)||Western Conference First Round||National TV|
|1||Thu, Apr 17||10:30 p.m.||Los Angeles at San Jose||NBCSN, CBC|
|2||Sun, Apr 20||10 p.m.||Los Angeles at San Jose||NBCSN, CBC|
|3||Tue, Apr 22||10 p.m.||San Jose at Los Angeles||NBCSN, CBC|
|4||Thu, Apr 24||10:30 p.m.||San Jose at Los Angeles||NBCSN, CBC|
|5*||Sat, Apr 26||TBD||Los Angeles at San Jose||NBCSN, CBC|
|6*||Mon, Apr 28||TBD||San Jose at Los Angeles||CBC|
|7*||Wed, Apr 30||TBD||Los Angeles at San Jose||CBC|