Kings-Sharks Game 5 Preview

Thearon W. Henderson

The Kings head back to Staples to embark on their second best-of-three in these playoffs.

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks (Staples Center)

Time: 7.30 PM

TV: RDS, TSN, NBC Sports Network

Enemy reading: Fear the Fin

Previous series coverage: Preview | Game 1 coverage | Game 2 recap | Game 3 recap | Game 4 coverage

Sharks (projected) lineup:

Marleau-Couture-Pavelski
Galiardi-Thornton-Burns
Sheppard-Gomez-Wingels
Kearns-Desjardins-Kennedy

Vlasic-Braun
Irwin-Boyle
Hannan-Stuart

Niemi

Injured: Burish; Scratched: Demers?, Havlat?, Hamilton, Oleksuk, Pelech, Stalberg, Acolatse, Demelo, Petrecki, Tennyson

Kings (projected) lineup:

Clifford-Kopitar-Williams
Penner-Richards-Carter
Brown-Lewis-King
Richardson-Fraser-Toffoli

Regehr-Doughty
Scuderi-Voynov
Muzzin-Greene

Quick

Injured: Mitchell, Stoll (THANKS, RAFFI); Scratched: Martinez, Ellerby, Nolan, the Manchester Monarchs

Game notes:

  • Darryl Sutter is going rogue tonight, breaking up the top line and demoting Dustin Brown to the third line. The Penner-Richards-Carter line is reunited, to the joy of many (including me), while recently healthy Kyle Clifford takes Brown's spot as LW1.
  • While I don't love all of these changes, something obviously had to be done to jump-start the offence. In particular, I think the (Penner - King) difference is greater than the (Brown - Clifford) difference at this point, so I'm tentatively in favour of the new top six.
  • I'm absolutely amazed that Colin Fraser is still in the lineup for tonight.
  • Still not sure what's going on with Jason Demers. Our friends at Fear the Fin seem to think Demers would slot in at forward on the bottom line (replacing Kennedy) if he plays, but I can't find any word on that probability.
  • The first period of Game 4 was probably the worst one the Kings have played this series, while the third period was probably the best one. That was partially due to the Sharks sitting on their lead, but the Kings looked legitimately dangerous for the final twenty minutes of the game. Nobody seems to have a compelling reason for why the Kings came out so flat, but less of that and more being good at hockey, please. (You're very welcome for this hard-hitting analysis.)
  • I need to address this new JOE THORNTON: HEART OF A CHAMPION narrative. Come onnnn, people. Over the years, there have been some unfair criticisms of a)the Sharks in the general, as playoff chokers, and b)Joe Thornton in particular, as the leader of the chokers. Joe Thornton is a great hockey player. He has been very good in this series, and he was particularly great during Game 4. These things are all true. Also true? Numbers-wise, Joe Thornton has historically under-performed during the playoffs. Look at that first graph. You know how Danny Briere is super-clutch amazing playoff man? Yeah, his over-production actually just sits on the upper boundary of random chance. Joe Thornton? His under-production sits below the lower boundary of random chance. There is a minimal number of players whose playoff production doesn't fall in the range predicted by regular season statistics, and Jumbo Joe is one of them. I know: limitations of statistical modelling, sample sizes, defensive play, injuries, blah blah blah. Still, give me a freaking break with this "Joe Thornton is so amazing and he's always been amazing and how dare anyone have criticised him prior to this for not being amazing because he is a poor martyred angel" business. Get real.
  • Prediction: Kings win, and Kevin Ryder remains un-funny and horrible.
  • ETA: apparently Jarret Stoll rode an exercise bike today, so he is progressing normally in his recovery from what is very obviously a concussion. He's essentially been ruled out for the rest of this series, but if the Kings move on, it seems possible we could see him play again before next season.

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