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Game Day Preview #73, San Jose Sharks @ Los Angeles Kings

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Go ahead and pencil in the MacDermid/Haley fight now.

NHL: San Jose Sharks at Los Angeles Kings Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

HOW TO WATCH

Game Time: 7:30 PM Pacific
TV: Fox Sports West
Radio: iHeart Radio
The Opposition: Fear the Fin

What better way to handcuff yourself against one of the West’s best teams than by intentionally playing a forward short?

That’s exactly what the Kings are doing tonight, as both Ilya Kovalchuk and Jonny Brodzinski will be healthy scratches. Instead, we’ll get treated to another four minutes of Kurtis MacDermid, who will almost certainly fight Sharks forward and otherwise useless tough guy Micheal Haley for no reason other than to have a fight.

Anze Kopitar will play north of 24 minutes (he logged 24:14 the last time the Kings did the 11 forward experiment) because while coach Willie Desjardins says that playing a forward short gives him more time to evaluate players, what it really does is place more burden on the team’s most experienced players.

Even though the Sharks are coming into town sans Erik Karlsson (groin injury) and most likely Joe Pavelski (lower body injury), they’re still the same Sharks, who are going to push your players to the outsides, get in shooting lanes, block shots, and all sorts of nonsense to frustrate the Kings. Intentionally playing shorthanded, with your seventh defenseman being stapled to the bench for most of the game because — spoilers — he is not good, against a team that continually challenges and frustrates you, seems like an awful idea.

But what do any of us know. Right?

It shouldn’t matter. It really shouldn’t matter. But it’s just another decision in a long line of perplexing decisions from Willie Desjardins that has led us to where we are today, already eliminated from the playoffs and going nowhere fast.

But this is a game preview. There is a game to be played tonight. Here are some facts about this game, then.

This is the fourth and final matchup between the Kings and Sharks this season, and the first time the Sharks have been back at Staples Center since October. The Sharks have won two of the three games, and two of the three (one Kings win, one Kings loss) have gone to overtime. The Sharks are led in points by Brent Burns — yes, I did a double take when I saw that — and in goals by Joe Pavelski, with 37 on the season. As noted before, Pavelski is dealing with an injury and is thought of as maybe-sort-of-day-to-day. He did join the team for practice this morning, but is not slated to play tonight. Don’t worry, though; beyond Pavelski, the Sharks have ten other players who have reached double digit goals this season. So even though Martin Jones has had an inconsistent season in net this year (and that’s putting it nicely), the Sharks are often able to outscore their problems. And while “inconsistent goalie” is something that can and has doomed many a playoff team, that’s a problem for Future Sharks, not the Sharks of tonight, who are probably going to walk out of Staples Center with two very easy points.

Jonathan Quick was first off today at practice, so expect him to get the start. Hopefully this one doesn’t end in another groin injury.

Lineup Notes

Quick, Watch This