Game Day Watch, 1/18: San Jose Sharks @ Los Angeles Kings
Guaranteed to be at least mildly entertaining!
HOW TO WATCH
Game Time: 7:30 PM Pacific
Radio: KABC AM 790
Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra (requires cable subscription)
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
if you’re a Kings fan: Why are the Kings sitting six points behind the Sharks after 44 games for each team? It’s kind of hard to explain, given how comparable the teams are... stingy defense, slightly below-average offense, struggling power play, decent penalty kill, and solid goaltending. And if LA was ordinary in overtime the gap would be even larger! The biggest difference has probably been backup goaltending, but given that tonight is Budaj vs. Jones, that shouldn’t matter. I guess we may never know the answer, but assuming these two once again struggle to a one-goal game, we’re watching for where the bounces go.
if you’re a Sharks fan: Logan Couture is out after blocking a shot with his hand on Monday, but the Sharks did just fine despite his injury, scoring five goals (including a SHG and a PPG) against Winnipeg. San Jose is in the middle of a January stretch that really isn’t that difficult, and a win today could turn into a longer streak quite easily. The offense just needs to show up; given that the game prior was a shutout by Carter Hutton, that’s not a given.
if you’re a hockey fan: I don’t need to explain to you what makes this rivalry so intense, but just know that it’ll be on this list of all-time rivalries sooner rather than later. No matchup has gotten more of a boost from recent changes to the game, as divisional realignment, outdoor games, NBCSN, and the efforts to market the game out West have all made a sizable impact on the prominence of Kings-Sharks. And yes, this game is once again on NBCSN. Tell your friends.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
for the Kings: Devin Setoguchi. The former Shark has zero points in ten games since Christmas, and zero points in 12 games against San Jose in his career. This is the exact opposite of “something’s gotta give,” but I’m not convinced that Setoguchi is in the Kings’ plans past the trade deadline. Teddy Purcell is still in the organization, after all. “Prove it” time is at hand.
for the Sharks: Chris Tierney, on the other hand, got the breakout he needed, notching two points vs. Winnipeg after getting one point in his previous 13. He’s also the Sharks’ worst possession player; if he takes on some of Logan Couture’s shifts, will he get buried?
- NHL! Scouting! Midterm! Rankings! Nolan Patrick tops the list, which makes sense as they’ve been saying he’ll go #1 in this draft for years. And given that Colorado, Arizona, and Vegas are the three likeliest destinations, you may want to learn about him. [SB Nation]
- Guess Henrik Lundqvist’s save percentage this season without looking. [Blueshirt Banter]
- Speaking of which: Monday’s 8-7 result between Washington and Pittsburgh came out of nowhere. Tuesday’s 7-6 result between Dallas and New York... definitely came out of somewhere. [Defending Big D]/
It was 3-0. #LAKings50 pic.twitter.com/mbUJ4vyzsy— #LAKings (@LAKings) January 18, 2017