Kings-Sharks Game Preview: Tommy Wingels?

The Kings and Sharks meet for the first time this season and apparently Tommy Wingels is now a first-liner? Weird stuff going on in the Pacific Division.

In the NHL schedule-makers' infinite wisdom, the Kings have played the Flames thrice before meeting the Sharks even once. Now, a month and a half into the 2013 season, the Kings finally land in the Shark Tank, and in case you haven't been keeping up with the Kings' northern Californian compatriots, I am here to tell you that weird stuff is happening up there. Stuff like: Antti Niemi is playing like an elite goaltender, Brent Burns is a forward again, Tommy Wingels is playing on a line with Joe Thornton. Man, that's even weirder than Kyle Clifford playing on a line with Anze Kopitar.

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks (HP Pavilion)

Time: 7.30 Pacific

TV: Fox Sports West

Seats: Los Angeles Kings tickets

Enemy reading: Fear the Fin

Sharks (projected) lineup:




Injuries: Havlat (c'mon, it's Martin Havlat/lower body)

ETA in an obvious move by the Sharks to ruin my joy, Brent Burns is apparently now RW1 and Wingels is now RW3. I am keeping the original lineup in memoriam. Free Tommy Wingels.

Kings (projected) lineup:




Injuries: Greene (back), Mitchell (knee)

Game notes:

  • After racing out to a 7-0-1 start, the Sharks managed to win two whole games in the month of February. Although the Kings' slow start means that they're only two points up on the Sharks (with the same number of games played), they have 13 ROW compared to the Sharks' 7. Stupid Bettman point.
  • Antti Niemi has been real good behind the kids who couldn't shoot straight, putting up a .930 SV - .936 at evens! - in 21 starts, and getting a whopping 10 wins for his efforts.
  • The Sharks actually look quite a bit like the early Kings of last season, with their goalie's elite season keeping them afloat despite a poor team shooting percentage of 6.30% - worse than any non-Ottawa Senators team in the League right now. The difference is that the Kings were a very good puck possession team that became a great puck possession team at the end of the season, and the Sharks are a slightly above-average puck possession team that can't go out and trade for Jeff Carter. (Or can they??) (No, they can't.)
  • Kings-Coyotes was a mess. The Kings played well for stretches, then had total breakdowns. Jake Muzzin was a penalty machine, the bottom six was lacklustre, Drew Doughty will never score again, Jonathan Quick couldn't stop any real scoring chances, etc, etc. I don't think that game was indicative of the Kings' true talent level, but I also think that the Kings have a tendency to underachieve and lose focus against the Sharks, so I have serious concerns about the game tonight.
  • The power-play is good now! 31% over the last nine games good! Let's not discuss even-strength scoring or goaltending, okay?
  • Seriously, Tommy Wingels Brent Burns is on the Sharks' first line. Win this game.