Kings – Sharks Playoff Preview


Los Angeles Kings (46-30-6) at San Jose Sharks (48-25-9)

The LA Kings were bumped out of the playoffs in the first round by the Vancouver Canucks last year, but making the playoffs seemed to be victory enough for the team that has been in the rebuilding process for quite some time.

The strategy has been to first build an iron-clad defensive line. Budding all-stars like Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson have given the Kings defense a lot of depth. The team’s strong defensive has taken a lot of pressure off Jonathan Quick (overall save percentage .918) and Jonathan Bernier (overall save percentage .913).

The second step in their rebuilding process is to work on the offensive line. Over the course of the 2010-11 season the scoring has been sparse but well distributed. Anze Kopitar is regarded as the team’s hero and fans love him but he did have a significant lull in goals mid-season.

Of course, Kopitar’s injury was devastating because he had been the goal leader and the point leader (73) for the team. However, if you followed the Kings all season you would notice that their offense doesn’t rely on one hero; rather they have a swinging door policy whereby players are the hero of the night on a rotational basis. Jarret Stoll, Wayne Simmonds, Dustin Brown, even Trevor Lewis in a recent game sans Kopitar.

The team works well together and Kopitar may be more of a mental barrier than a physical one. He isn’t overrated per se, but his injury has been sensationalized when it may not be as devastating as people are making it out to be.

Justin Williams has been a consistent scorer all season and he will be back on the offensive line.

In addition, Edmonton’s top scorer Dustin Penner made the move to LA and has offensive potential. Kings Coach Terry Murray called Trevor Lewis the team’s hidden weapon. Captain Dustin Brown also has a lot to give. He has 82 regular season goal points, 28 goals, and an NHL total of 141 regular season goals.

Nonetheless, the Kings are not the favored pick. Sports Chat Place posted “Kyle’s Pick”, which predicted the San Jose Sharks winning in 5 games

“The two teams more or less evenly split the season series, so it could be a toss-up,” said Matt Repka of The Tuft Daily, who also has the Sharks in five. “But San Jose’s playoff experience and veteran core outclasses a young Los Angeles roster, and if the Sharks show up firing on all cylinders, it’ll be a short series.”

Repka places a lot of emphasis on the loss of Kopitar and Justin Williams from the Kings offensive line-up. However, Williams is expected to be back in play after a lengthy stint on injury reserve. Though Kopitar, who is undeniably the Kings’ offensive

“San Jose has always been that team that performs very well in the regular season and then collapses in the playoffs,” said Carey Beyer of the University of Buffalo Spectrum. Beyer went on to predict the Sharks in six

“[T]here is enough talent and experience for the Kings to win their first Stanley Cup,” said NHL Staff Writer Dave Lozo. Lozo attributes the fierce defensive line for the Kings limitless potential. “Only the Canucks and Bruins allowed fewer goals than the Kings, who shaved off 21 goals from last season’s total that ranked them No. 10.”

The Kings are still in the rebuilding process. If the significant collective improvement they have been making as a team continues, the Stanley Cup is becoming a more realistic goal every season. The Kings have the moxy to make it to the quarter finals, especially if, as has been the case in the past, the Sharks loosen their game and fall apart in the post-season.

Kings in seven.