San Jose Sharks vs Los Angeles Kings: Stanley Cup 2014 first-round preview

Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

It’s a shame one of California’s two best clubs will be eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs in the first-round, but unfortunately, that is the luck of the draw.

The Sharks and Kings meet again in the postseason, one year after a terrific seven game series in the second-round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs that saw the home team win every single game. Last year the Kings had home ice advantage and this year, the Sharks do. So, if we’re to expect the usual, it’s the Sharks’ turn to win a the seven game showdown between SoCal and the North.

But not so fast! The San Jose Sharks, as good as they are, have a lengthy history that consists of losing to teams like the L. A. Kings in hard-fought playoff series’, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they come up short again. Here is why: The Kings were built for the Stanley Cup playoffs. L. A. is a defensive juggernaut – the NHL’s best defensive team this season – and, they have a bunch of Selke like forwards who elevate their play in the spring. I don’t know if it’s safe to assume the Kings will be unable to win a game in San Jose this postseason because they couldn’t in the second-round one year ago.

That being said, history doesn’t always repeat itself. Maybe the Sharks have lost some playoff series’ in the past because they just didn’t get the bounces they needed to claim victory. If that’s the case, this could be San Jose’s lucky year.

One thing working against the Los Angeles Kings is that they’ve made it to, or further than, the Western Conference Finals in two straight postseasons. That’s a lot of hockey and a lot of short summers. Maybe a few players within the Kings’ core want an early summer this year. Forgive me for going there, but these players are human, too. Will the Kings have the will to play the punishing forechecking, defensively sound style that makes them unstoppable in the Stanley Cup playoffs? If they ain’t, they’ll lose to the Sharks’ skill.

San Jose Sharks Injuries: LW Raffi Torres (soreness), RW Adam Burish (broken finger).

Los Angeles Kings Injuries: D Drew Doughty (shoulder).

Injuries courtesy of NHL.com.

Sal’s Prediction: Kings in 6.

I like Quick, I like the Kings great defensive habits, and I think they have enough in the tank to give another go at winning the Cup. A motivated, on-point, focused Kings will be real tough for anyone to beat, especially in the first-round, before their physical style starts to wear them down.

Brett’s Prediction: Sharks in 7.

Another brutal match-up for both these squads. Who knows maybe if they didn’t have to meet so early they could be meeting in the conference finals instead. Anyways home ice has proven to play a vital role in this rivalry and I believe the trend will continue. Last Spring, all seven games were won by the home team including this season’s five game set where all but one were taken by the host. For that reason I am settling on the Sharks who are also set to get The Teenage Mutant Ninja Hertl back from injury