Game Day #78: Kings-Sharks Preview

hey look it's Joe Pavelski, aka "not at all California's great 8, you idiot", failing to check Stoll! - Victor Decolongon

What to do when the games go from "mostly meaningless" to "almost 100% meaningless?". Just relax, I guess. And troll. Can't forget troll.

Los Angeles Kings vs. San Jose Sharks (SAP Center- no, seriously, that's what it's called)

Time: 7:30

TV: NBCSN (UGH). TSN2

Future Division Champion Enemy reading: Fear the Fin

Sharks (projected) lineup:

Pavelski-Thornton-Burns
Marleau-Couture-Wingels
Nieto-Sheppard-Kennedy
Havlat-Desjardins-(Mike) Brown

Vlasic-Demers
Stuart-Braun
Irwin-Boyle

Niemi
Stalock

Injured: Tomas Hertl (lol), Adam Burish

Kings (projected) lineup:

Gaborik-Kopitar-Williams
Pearson-Carter-Toffoli
Nolan-Stoll-Brown
Clifford-Richards-Lewis

Muzzin-Doughty
Regehr-Voynov
Mitchell-Martinez

Jones (?)
Quick

Injured: Dwight King; Scratched: Matt Greene, Linden Vey (woo he's back!)

Game Notes:

  • Hi, I am not Langluy. She is busy today doing whatever it is Canadian lawyers do (so like, prosecuting and/or defending a bear accused of stealing maple syrup, I'm guessing), so you'll have to put up with me today instead. I will ignore that loud round of boos I just imagined and continue.
  • So before I even get started, I would like to point out something about our opponents tonight, the San Jose Sharks. As you are probably well aware, they will likely be our first round opponents in the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs (that's that thing where sixteen teams play in an elimination tournament until only one is left, in case any confused Alberta hockey fans are reading this), and they are not taking it too well. Fear the Fin's preview of this game read like a manic-depressive's manifesto, and the gloom & doom doesn't stop there. For example:

  • Yeah that guy is a Sharks fan, and that appears to be the common sentiment amongst their fanbase: oh crap oh crap oh crap. The two things they do have going for them are a huge special teams advantage and a shooting % that isn't quite as garbage as ours, but in general LA has an advantage about anywhere else you can think of. Hey, let's go over a bunch of them really quick in a little table I put together called:
We Are Better Than You In (Almost) Every Way

Kings Stat Sharks
55.5% Overall Corsi (shot attempts) 54.8%
54.6% Overall Fenwick (unblocked attempts) 55.8%
56.7% 5v5 Corsi 53.8%
55.9% 5v5 Fenwick 54.8%
56.6% 5v5 Fenwick Close 55.0%
57.4% 5v5 Fenwick Tied 55.1%
52.5% 5v5 Corsi With a Lead 50.1%

  • Ya, so. There you go. But hey San Jose, you did get one whole column! Good work!
  • Now, let's talk about tonight's game. First of all, it is utterly meaningless for the Kings, yes. We have clinched a playoff spot, and catching the Sharks for the 2nd seed would involve basically winning out and having the Sharks only gain a single point in their remaining five games. Not bloody likely. At the same time, does that mean you should root for the Sharks tonight since they still have a chance of catching the Ducks for the Pacific Division title? Uh, I mean, you could if you want. But according to Sports Club Stats, the Sharks currently have just a 5% chance of winning the division. So yeah, I dunno, I don't think it really matters. I think it's going to be Sharks-Kings in the 1st round and we'll all just have to learn to live with it.
  • The reason why the Sharks have almost no shot to win the division now is due to their recent slide: they're just 3-3-2 in their last 8 games (following an impressive 6-game win streak). Let's read off the five teams they've lost to in this slide, which I swear to god I'm not making up: the Panthers (at home in regulation!), the Capitals (at home), the Flames, the Jets (at home in regulation!), and the Avalanche (in regulation). Yes, of their five losses, only one is against a current playoff team, and said playoff team is the Toronto Maple Leafs of the Western Conference. Good work Sharks!
  • However, have they really been playing all that badly, or have they just been getting Kings'd? Well, we can look that up, let's see: they had 71.2% Corsi against the Panthers (HAHAHA WHAT) though that does drop to 54.3% at 5v5 close; just 50.4% against the Capitals (50.6% 5v5 close); 59% against Calgary (63.6% 5v5 close); just 45.5% against the Jets (and only 40.2% 5v5 close, jesus); and an amazing 72.5% against Colorado (72.2% 5v5 close). So uh, the answer is "sometimes they were Kings'd really hardcore, sometimes they were just OK, and what the hell happened in that Winnipeg game???". Basically, they seem to be a pretty inconsistent club right now. It could be a minor bump in the road and all that, but they definitely seem to have taken their foot off the gas a little bit after clinching, even though they still had a lot to play for (the division title and not having to play the Kings in the 1st round), opening the door for the Ducks to kind of start running away with this thing a bit (as they have).
  • In case you need even more numbers in your life, here's your ~Fun With Numbers~ preview via Extra Skater.
  • Prediction: WHO CARES. No, seriously, I will enjoy myself if the Kings win, but it's the second night of a back-to-back coming the night after they just clinched a playoff spot. If the Kings come out like garbage and lose 5-0 it wouldn't surprise me. But I'm not going to predict that because that would be mean, so my official prediction is, indeed, Who Cares. Go Kings, I guess. Wake me when it's playoffs (or when we have a chance to eliminate Vancouver, oh please god let us be the ones to eliminate Vancouver).
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