In advance of the Los Angeles Kings' first-round matchup with the San Jose Sharks, we asked Jake Sundstrom, the managing editor of Fear the Fin, five questions (and a bonus) about the series. His answers are below! You can follow him at @jakesundstrom or, naturally, at @fearthefin.
Are you happy to have our old friend Martin Jones in net?
I'm happy with how Jones has played this season and I think it's the right move, at least long term, to give him the start in net. He's been solid while facing the biggest workload of his career — I couldn't ask for more than that.
How has Peter DeBoer changed the Sharks? Will it matter in this series?
The biggest change seems to be his willingness to give players rest days. The Sharks are officially an Old Team and I think DeBoer has done a great job resting guys up for the playoffs. I think it might help, especially since we all know how physically and emotionally draining Kings-Sharks games are for both teams.
What kind of impact does Brent Burns' offensive prowess have on the Sharks' defense?
Sometimes a good offense is the best defense. What Burns can do is keep the puck on the other end of the ice for the entirety of his shift — it doesn't matter if he can block shots or break up 2-on-1s if the other team never acquires the puck. With Paul Martin as his partner, Burns has really improved his defensive game this year; but it's no secret its his offense that makes him so valuable.
What's the Sharks' biggest weakness?
Depth. Joe Thornton has carried this team all season long and will have to do it again against the Kings. If Thornton's line can't hang with Kopitar's, the Sharks are going to be in real trouble because the other three lines will mostly be looking to tread water against the Kings.
Kings in six. Barring something very fluky, I just don't see the Kings' phenomenal possession game losing out in a seven-game series.
Bonus Question: Can Jones' and Tyler Toffoli's relationship handle this series?
How could it? I mean, I've seen the videos of Tyler Toffoli out getting cupcakes in Los Angeles and that means Martin Jones has, too. "Oh, Ty Toff looks lonely," Jones says to himself now — but after Toffoli scores and does a cartwheel at center ice we'll all know this relationship is dead and buried.