In the Crease: Sharks open up playoffs with Kings

In the Crease: Sharks open up playoffs with Kings
April 17, 2014, 9:45 am
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Joe Pavelski led the Sharks with 41 goals, the third highest total in the NHL. While Anze Kopitar led the Kings in scoring. (AP)

Programming noteCoverage of Game 1 between the Sharks and Kings begins Thursday night at 7:00 on CSN California with Sharks Pregame Live.

Series schedule

Game 1 – April 17, Kings @ Sharks, 7:30 p.m.
Game 2 – April 20, Kings @ Sharks, 7:00 p.m.
Game 3 – April 22, Sharks @ Kings, 7:00 p.m.
Game 4 – April 24, Sharks @ Kings, 7:30 p.m.
Game 5* – April 26, Kings @ Sharks, TBD
Game 6* – April 28, Sharks @ Kings, TBD
Game 7* – April 30, Kings @ Sharks, TBD

* - if necessary

The latest

Sharks: The Sharks finished with their third-best record in franchise history with 111 points (51-22-9), good for second place in the Pacific Division, including the league’s second-best home mark (29-7-5). San Jose has made the postseason for 10 straight seasons, the third-longest streak in professional sports.

Kings: Los Angeles claimed third place in the Pacific Division with 46-28-8 mark (100 points). The Kings had identical 23-14-4 records at home and on the road. Los Angeles still has 16 players on its roster that were a part of the 2012 Stanley Cup championship team.

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: Joe Pavelski. Where will the Sharks coaches put Pavelski? That’s been the big question in the days leading up to Game 1, as Pavelski could remain on Joe Thornton’s wing, or he could center the third line. Pavelski led the Sharks with 41 goals, the third highest total in the NHL, and he could see time in both positions depending on the health of the club.

[RELATED: Sharks draw on depth, experience for playoff run]

Kings: Anze Kopitar. The Selke Trophy candidate led the Kings in scoring for the seventh straight season, joining Marcel Dionne (eight straight) as the only other Kings player to achieve that feat. In the first two games, Kopitar’s line with newcomer Marian Gaborik and Justin Williams will likely match up against Logan Couture’s line.

Vitals (regular season)


Sharks

Goals per game: 2.92 (T – 6th)
Goals-against per game: 2.35 (5th)
Power play: 17.2 percent (20th)
Penalty kill: 84.9 percent (6th)

Kings
Goals per game: 2.42 (26th)
Goals-against per game: 2.05 (1st)
Power play: 15.1 percent (27th)
Penalty kill: 83.1 percent (11th)

Probable lines

Sharks
Joe Pavelski – Joe Thornton – Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Matt Nieto
Tomas Hertl – James Sheppard – Tommy Wingels
Raffi Torres – Andrew Desjardins – Marty Havlat

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Jason Demers
Scott Hannan – Dan Boyle
Brad Stuart – Justin Braun

Antti Niemi (confirmed starter)
Alex Stalock

[RELATED: Torres likely to play in Game 1 vs. Kings]

Kings
Marian Gaborik – Anze Kopitar – Justin Williams
Dwight King – Mike Richards – Jeff Carter
Tyler Toffoli – Jarret Stoll – Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford – Trevor Lewis – Jordan Nolan

Jake Muzzin – Drew Doughty
Robyn Regehr – Slava Voynov
Willie Mitchell – Alec Martinez

Jonathan Quick (confirmed starter)
Martin Jones


Injuries/Scratches

Sharks: Adam Burish (left hand) is out. Scott Hannan (upper body), Raffi Torres (right knee surgery) and Bracken Kearns (undisclosed) are probable.

Kings: Drew Doughty (bruised left shoulder) is probable.

Season/All-Time series

Home teams are 20-1-1 in the last 22 games between the two teams, including playoffs. In the second round of last year’s postseason, the home team won each of the seven games as the Kings advanced.

The Sharks were 2-2-1 against Los Angeles in the regular season, with both of their wins coming at SAP Center. The Kings were 3-1-1 against the Sharks. Jeff Carter paced Los Angeles with four points in the season series (2g, 2a), while Joe Pavelski had three goals to lead San Jose.

Likely starter Jonathan Quick was 2-0-1 in three starts against the Sharks with a 1.47 goals-against average and .930 save percentage. Antti Niemi was 2-1-1 vs. the Kings with a 2.67 GAA and .910 SP in four games.

Quoteable

“I think we wanted LA. The team as a whole wanted LA. Going into the playoffs, we thought we might as well take the best team in the league right away. I think we’re excited. It’s going to be a grind, for sure.” – Jason Demers

Burning question

Who will win this series, and in how many games? Leave your answer in the comments section below.

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