I realize that I’ve unwittingly been enjoying this season so much more than the rest for reasons unknown to me before today. I haven’t had to look at those ugly teal jerseys yet.
Book-ended by the Anaheim Ducks and horseradish, the San Jose Sharks are second on my list of things I disdain. Disease, tyranny and random acts of street violence should probably be higher on that list, but if you’ve ever taken a good, long look at Dan Boyle’s face, you’d know my priorities are perfectly in line.
Luckily for me and my spiteful tendencies, the San Jose Slackers are a team on the decline from their several year run of dominating the regular season. The Sharks lack a puck moving defenseman to compliment the unfortunately-faced Boyle. Promising young forward Devin Setoguchi has continued to struggle this season, scoring only 2 goals and 2 assists in 15 games. Besides Ryan Clowe and Joe Pavelski, the Sharks could use more secondary scoring and are completely missing goals of the tertiary nature. Cup winner Antti Niemi is off to an abysmal start, with only 2 wins in 6 starts, a save percentage of .878 and a GAA of 3.73. The same can not be said for Antero Niittymaki. Not only does Antero have the most fun last name to say with a Beavis inflection (try it, and if you don’t giggle at yourself, you might need to redirect more attention towards enjoying life), but the goalie is 6-1-2 with a .929 SV% and an 1.80 GAA. I know those numbers look lame next to Jonathan Quick’s, but I promise you, regardless of our warped perspective based off the extreme awesomeness of our starting goalie, those are still damn good numbers.
Speaking of starting goalies, Terry Murray has already veered off his announced plan to start Quick against division rivals as tonight Jonathan Bernier will be stopping pucks for the Kings. The Kings will ice the same forward lineup as they did against the Islanders, with Brayden Schenn as the healthy scratch. On defense, Jake Muzzin comes out of the lineup and will be replaced by Peter Harrold. Shrewd move by Murray.
Some might think this is a tough game for the Kings. I’ll meet those people in the middle and say it will be tougher than the 5-1 route of the Islanders. Though I disregard the Sharks in many ways, they are still a good team despite their less than normally good 8-5-2 start. They are looking for their third win a row tonight and will bring the Kings a heavy hitting, high skill game. Which brings us to….
Keys for the game:
- Hit these jerks. Hit them early, often and hard. They’ve got many tough players and some mean mother grabbers over there in Jamie McGinn, Jamal Mayers, Douglas Murray and Frazer McLaren. Carry the physical game to the home team.
- Don’t get caught in a game of match-ups. This being a road game and Anze Kopitar being excellent defensively, so long as Kevin Westgarth isn’t on the ice with Dany Heatley, take coach Todd McLellan’s match-ups in stride. Our team is 4 lines deep and 3 lines immensely strong. Play our game, not theirs.
- Watch the transition game. Heatley and Marleau have explosive speed. The defense must be extra careful in their choice and timing of offensive pinches.
- Give Kopitar the puck. He is heating up and its time for him to get on his first real roll of the season.
- Building confidence for Doughty. After finally scoring a goal, Doughty needs to continue to take his game to a higher level. Lose the cock in his walk and replace it with the swagger of a superstar.
- Make sure Bernier sees the puck. No early goals against. Give Bernier a lead and let him do his thing. Bernier has already shown us that his confidence, posture and swagger skyrocket when playing with a lead.
7th consecutive win, here we come.
Always and forever,
GO KINGS GO!
UPDATE: BONUS KEY TO THE GAME
- It has just come to my attention that Douglas Murray suffered an injury in his last game and may very well not be playing tonight. If true, then the Sharks defense just got a whole lot softer. Now there is absolutely nothing and no one for Kopitar to fear. So, drive Kopi, drive!