Kings/Sharks Gameday Thread: the Umlauted One [Game #74]
Kings Roster Notes: (IN) Jonathan Quick (2.20 GAA, .919 SV%), Oscar "The Prince of Adorableness" Moller, Kyle Clifford, Brad Richardson. (OUT) Kevin Westgarth, Peter Harrold, Davis Drewiske. Injured: Scott Parse, Justin Williams.
Sharks Roster Notes: (IN) Antti Niemi (2.48 GAA, .916 SV%), in his 30th consecutive start; rookies Justin Braun and Andrew Desjardins. Via trade: Ian White (OUT) Injured: Scott Nichol, Kent Huskins. Via trade: Derek Joslin.
Despite their emphasis on defense, you may be surprised to learn the Kings have scored more even-strength goals than the Sharks so far this season (135 vs 131). The difference has been the power play, and the fact that SJ's offense didn't seem to kick into gear until January. The Sharks' explosion on offense has coincided with their success (22-4-3 in their last 29 games). Meanwhile, the Kings have been in lockdown mode, piling up points through one-goal wins. As the Sharks are winners of 4 straight, this will pose a challenge.
This contest will likely feature another clash between special teams: San Jose has at least one power play goal in the last 8 games, while the Kings have killed 31 penalties in a row. LA is now tied for first on the PK (85.9%).
The last two meetings between these clubs were decided by one third period goal and a shootout, respectively. The Kings will need to contine to throttle the Sharks' offense if they hope to succeed. More importantly, the rest of their offense (Penner, Kopitar, Simmonds, Brown) will need to step up in Williams' place, and drive to the dangerous areas to score.
Goals, Kings, Goals.