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Preview (Sharks @ Kings): Bracing cold waters

After finding nothing except fists full of sand in the desert, the Los Angeles Kings move on to tackle the Sharks.

San Jose Sharks v Los Angeles Kings

How to Watch

Game Time: 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time

TV: Fox Sports West

Radio: iHeart Radio

The Opposition: Fear The Fin

What to Watch

With (American) Thanksgiving approaching, the results on the ice for the Los Angeles Kings have been tough to stomach for fans this season. Another grueling test awaits the Kings as they host the San Jose Sharks tonight in the first of four meetings this season.

It is easy to complain about what you don’t have, overlooking what you have that others don’t. Case in point, the Kings have experienced a 92.1 % attendance rate this season which is higher than five teams that currently have a playoff spot, according to ESPN.

Hopes for drastic changes to occur overnight is unrealistic, but incremental changes over a period of time is possible.

Los Angeles’ goal scoring struggles in 2019-20 seem reminiscent of the 2015-16 Anaheim Ducks team that was residing at the bottom of the standings by scoring 1.87 goals per game before riding a “worst to first“ narrative.

While the 2.61 goals for average doesn’t look that bad in comparison, LA is ranked 28th in that department and have been held to two goals or less in 12 of 23 games this season.

But they look way different in November versus when the season began in October. The games they have lost as of late have yielded a 1.6 margin of defeat compared to the first month’s 3.11.

This month-to-month perspective is kind to Jonathan Quick as well, going from 4.50 GAA (.858 save percentage) to 2.14 GAA (.918 save percentage). These are encouraging signs that make Moneypuck’s 26.6% playoff odds on the Kings quite palatable.

Anze Kopitar’s performance has not disappointed and is where it needs to be, being one of 26 players in the league currently operating above a one point per game pace.

On the other hand, Drew Doughty not being up to snuff from the get-go was more of a shocking plot twist than Gustavo Fring’s fatal mistake in “Breaking Bad.“ However, Doughty has now found his footing and was the main reason why LA was able to defeat the Pacific Division leading Edmonton Oilers 5-1 last Thursday.

After beginning 0-4-0, the San Jose Sharks now find themselves winners of eight of its last nine games to come within sniffing distance of third place in the Pacific.

The eighth worst goals against per game average (3.33) might lead you off the scent as to how this feat has been pulled; there are a few culprits to point at.

In his inaugural season as the team captain, Logan Couture is the pilot of his skyrocketing confidence by bringing in a six-game point streak where he has three goals and seven assists.

Despite his ongoing legal troubles linked to his gambling, Evander Kane has been a valuable asset on the ice as seven of his team leading 12 goals have come while on the power play.

Speaking of special teams, San Jose has been reaping the benefits of a penalty kill that not only is tops in the NHL at 90.9 % but also the most effective shorthanded unit in their 28-year history.

Much like how Batman needs his Robin, there has been no shortage of electrifying duos. From Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton have packed a punch of their own.

Marleau and Thornton, players whose names hold a lot of significance in the Sharks organization, both find themselves on one-year rentals at the age of 40.

Marleau’s return to San Jose was met with warm reception after spending the last two seasons in Toronto, scoring two goals in the 2019-20 season opener against Chicago.

Meanwhile, Thornton finds himself anchoring the third line with seven points. Although being a goal-scoring machine was never apart of his moxie when taking his franchise-leading 787 assists into account, the 1997 No. 1 overall pick has yet to score a goal on 27 shots.

Lineups

Los Angeles Kings

Iafallo — Kopitar — Brown
Grundstrom — Carter — Toffoli
Kempe — Lizotte — Wagner
Clifford — Amadio — Prohorkin

Walker — Doughty
Hutton — Martinez
Roy — Ryan

Quick

San Jose Sharks