Monday, April 11, 2011

Beat LA: 4 Reasons the Los Angeles Kings Are the Most Favorable Match-Up For the San Jose Sharks

In a final weekend of the NHL season that can only be described as "nutty," some teams got the match-up they wanted in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and others did not. I will gladly insert the San Jose Sharks into the "match-up they wanted" category for several reasons.

The Sharks will play the Los Angeles Kings in the 1st round of the NHL Playoffs that will start in San Jose at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

From a distance, the Kings may be the most favorable match-up in the entire Western Conference playoff picture for the Sharks. The Kings were the only team sliding down the conference ladder as of late, and most teams were dying to play them in round 1 despite the young core and solid goaltending the Kings have.

But the NHL playoffs are a different kind of beast, as the Sharks are very well aware of...and reminded of every year.

But in a conference that saw the eighth seed and second seed separated by just eight points, it seems the Sharks lucked out with this draw (as lucky as a match-up in the Western Conference playoffs can get).


As if the HP Pavilion is not loud enough, how do you think it will be when a team from Los Angeles comes to play?

Sure, the Sharks/Kings NorcCal and SoCal rivalry isn't as potent as say a Giants/Dodgers rivalry, but I'm sure the fans in San Jose will make it just that way.

You can be sure to hear the deafening sounds of "Beat LA" ringing throughout the night, and in your mind the next morning.

As of right now, any team from L.A. is extremely hated in Northern California after the beating of a Giants fan in L.A. last week sending him into a coma.

You can be certain the fans at The Tank will do their job to make the sure the Kings have an extreme disadvantage in Round 1.

3. The Sharks Are Deeper This Year; Kings Lacking Weapons

This reason stands on more of a broader scale and really applies to the entire playoffs for the Sharks, but it is essential that this point get across against a Kings team that seems to lack weapons as of late.

The Sharks have the usual Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley weapons, as they do every year. They even had a terrific show from Joe Pavelski in last year's playoffs.

But this year, the Sharks do not have to completely rely on those original weapons because the Sharks have players that have contributed so much more this season.

I'm talking about ROY candidate Logan Couture, Ryane Clowe, Devin Setoguchi, and even shots in the dark like Torrey Mitchell or Ben Eager.

Each have contributed to this team and are responsible for the Sharks resurgence in the second half of this season.

They cannot rely on Thornton, Marleau and Heatley because time and time again they have disappointed when the team needs them most.

But the Sharks have never had the back-up weapons that they have this year, which is why it seems that if one player does not produce, then another will.

The Kings, on the other hand, seem to lack weapons due to injury, which is why the Kings were a favorable match-up against whoever they played in the first round.

2. Ducks and Predators Are Hot; Blackhawks Are Defending Champs

By process of elimination, the Kings were the most favorable match-up for the Sharks.

Going into the last weekend, the Sharks could have played anybody ranging from the Ducks to the Blackhawks.

It has been duly noted that hot teams continue to play hot into the playoffs. That would insinuate the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators as teams you might want to stay away from come playoff time.

The Ducks went 7-3-0 down the stretch of the season, including a domination against the Sharks in the two teams' most recent game against each other.

The Predators went 7-2-1 in their final 10 games and have played in several very close games with the Sharks this season. The Sharks and Predators seem to match-up very well with each other. A good match-up is probably not the most ideal first round opponent the Sharks wanted to face.

The Blackhawks snuck into the NHL playoffs by the skin of their teeth, but make no mistake, this team is not going down easy.

Although, goaltending is a problem, no team ever wants to go up against the defending Stanley Cup winners in the playoffs in the first round. The Canucks will have their hands full in round one.

The Kings, on the other hand, went a respectable 6-4-0 in their final 10 games, but lost three of four down the stretch, including a beat down by the Sharks in their most recent meeting, 6-1.

1. The Kings Are Hurt

Not the best reason, but injuries play such a key role in the NHL playoffs when you have one less weapon on the ice.

The Kings' leader in points and assists, Anze Kopitar, has no timetable for his return.

A blow for the Kings, as most scoring goes through Kopitar, who tallied 73 points this season.

Another blow: Kings' forward Justin Williams has been sidelined since March 21st with a dislocated shoulder.

Although Williams was supposed to be out four weeks, it seems the second-leading point man for the Kings will be returning to the ice earlier than expected and possibly in this series.

But Williams will not be 100% and will be wearing a harness on the ice if he does return.

These are arguably the top two offensive players for the Kings, and they will need all they can against a Sharks team that is completely healthy and ready to go.

No comments:

Post a Comment