The San Jose Sharks will be hosting the Los Angeles Kings tonight in an all-important divisional battle between the third and fourth place teams in the Western Conference.
The Sharks will be looking to clinch the Pacific with what would be their fourth straight win, while the Kings are looking to clinch a playoff spot with a win on the road.
Los Angeles is coming off of a big 3-1 win that potentially ended the Dallas Stars season with a big game from Wayne Simmonds (who potted a goal and assist on the game-winning goal) Dustin Brown and Matt Greene (who scored the game-winning goal).
In the absence of Anze Kopitar, the Kings will have to count on their secondary scoring to produce through the rest of the season and into the playoffs, and so far they have done just that.
One King that has been impressive all season that is somewhat under the radar is rookie Kyle Clifford, who also notched an assist in the win over Dallas.
Although Clifford has just 6 goals and 7 assists on the season, he also leads the Kings with 15 fighting majors and 126 penalty minutes and has proven to be an agressive role-player on the Kings’ third and fourth lines.
However, the Sharks have been even hotter as of late coming into this evening’s battle on a three game winning streak, with all four lines producing and gelling to gain momentum at the right time of year. In the past few seasons, the Sharks have started off hot and ended cold, but it has been reversed this season and may be just what they need to go deeper in the playoffs.
Patrick Marleau has continued to produce wicked numbers as he scored his 36th and 37th goals of the season while also adding an assist in San Jose’s most recent 4-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Marleau has 26 points in his last 20 games with four two-goal games in his last five.
Although captain Joe Thornton is on pace for a career-low season since joining the Sharks, he does have a chance to shoot for his 1000th point
tonight to join Jarome Iginla who also accomplished the feat recently. Thornton has 19 goals, 47 assists and 66 points in 76 games this season, giving him 304 goals, 693 assists and 997 points in 991 career games.
The Sharks could use some production from Jumbo Joe tonight as they are currently in a battle with the Detroit Redwings for second place in the Western Conference, just one point behind the Wings with a game at hand. However, San Jose may wish to remain in third place to avoid the current seventh place Ducks in the first round, as the Ducks defeated the Sharks that way two seasons ago while in the eighth seed.
No matter the outcome, the game is an important test for both teams and the divisional rivals always play an exciting, physical game against one another. Puck drops at 10 p.m. ET, or 7 p.m. PT.