Another year, another postseason. Another postseason, another Sharks Kings preview. Remind me again what year it is? This is part one of a playoff preview between these two. In this article, I will focus on what the Sharks have that will take them past their rivals.
Check out part 2 on why the Sharks will repeat history and fall to the Kings here
Sharks Kings Preview: How San Jose Can Win
The Kings may have won the season series between these two, but the Sharks earned 11 more points over the season. They even had a plus/minus 17 points higher than the Kings. This is not the same anemic Sharks offense of last season, this is one of the most dangerous and potent lineups in the league. Here’s what Team Teal has going for them in their corner.
The Sharks Have a 40+ Goal Scorer
Joe Pavelski has had his best season ever this year. 41 goals led the Sharks and was good for third place in all the NHL. His 79 total points are also a career high. He has grown to become a legitimate leader in the league. What’s best, is that Joe Pavelski is naturally a third line center. Last season ended early because the Sharks had no threat to Jonathan Quick outside of the top six forwards. For the Sharks to win this series, Joe Pavelski must be used to his full potential: leading the third line.
Los Angeles Doesn’t Score
The Kings are not in the playoffs for their ability to put the puck into the net. They are the best defensive team in the league, allowing just over 2 goals per game. But they are 26th in the league in scoring, the lowest of any playoff team. Antti Niemi has not been perfect in the home stretch, in fact, Todd McLellan wasn’t even ready to name him his starter for the playoffs with a few games to go. But, if the defense can keep the premium chances to a minimum, Nemo won’t have to play perfect.
They Score Even Less On the Power Play
In the postseason, the power play is paramount to success. Not only does the Kings power play rank lowest of the playoff teams in power play percentage, but the Sharks penalty kill ranked sixth in the league (second best in the West). The playoffs are a series of momentum shifts, and power plays are a key to momentum. Failing on the man advantage four times in a row can demoralize a team. With LA’s poor power play, the momentum will favor San Jose.
Tomas Hertl is Back in the Lineup
The Sharks didn’t exactly suffer on the standings without their rookie sensation, Tomas Hertl. But they definitely did not have the same explosiveness that they dominated with early in the season. Running multiple forward lines that can score was key to how the Blackhawks blew through the regular season and playoffs last year. With Hertl’s return, the balance of the lines returns as well.