LA Kings v. San Jose Sharks

So Cal v. No Cal

The Hockey Gods have humbled the Chicago Blackhawks and put their playoff hope at the mercy of the Dallas Stars v. Minnesota Wild. Out of this, we drew our foes to the north.

Excited? I am just glad we made the playoffs and while the prospect of Justin Williams being back for game one does tickle my fan-cy, my expectations are tempered, even with San Jose’s history of cho…cho…ok, a picture…

The Sharks are a damn good team. Youth, veterans and finally goaltending. Able to light up opponents. Hell, our worst loss of the season came at their hands only recently 6-1. They also have a passionate fan base and a franchise I respect. To some extent, I consider them kindred blood. Remember the incredible reception their fans gave to Luc Robitaille? It was April 17, 2006. Luc’s last game. We played the Sharks, won 4-0 and throughout the evening, the sell out crowd at San Jose chanted his name and applauded his career. After the game, the Sharks’ players came out to shake his hand. I got goosebumps that night, have never forgotten it and ever since then, the Sharks have had a nice place in my hockey heart…with the occasional and unintentional mockery or jeer but mostly out of the jealousy that they have been a contender for so many years.

This season, we have lost (6-3), won (4-0), lost (1-0), Won (3-2), Won (4-3) and lost (6-1). 3-3, although two of our wins were in a shootout.

Can we beat them without Anze Kopitar? I looked at how Anze did against San Jose. 1 goal and 4 assists. Not bad, but 3 of those assists were in one game on December 27 when we won 4-0. But Anze was and is more than an offensive force. He is the glue to the forwards’ defense. The center that can do it all. Without him, we lose a huge skill set against a very skilled team.

How about Justin Williams? Two assists. That’s it. He has missed the last two games against them.

So, who has been hot against the Sharks? Dustin Brown has 4 goals and an assist. Not too shabby.

But individual statistics won’t matter here. If the LA Kings want to have a chance in this series, we will need excellent and consistent goaltending from Jonathan Quick, something we have not seen in the past 10 + games. The defense must retrieve and get the puck to the forwards on transition quickly. The passing must be tape to tape. If San Jose has one weakness, it is defense and we have been able to score goals against them. Traffic in front of the net? Of course. Avoiding turnovers and staying the hell out of the box? Without question. Kevin Westgarth no where near the ice surface? I wish. Terry Murray evolving? Come on.

I will do my part. I may get religion, become superstitious like Surly or hell, maybe even watch the games without expectation and just have some fun without thought and analysis for a change…nah…GO KINGS!