Previewing the Los Angeles Kings’ 2012-13 season:
Game 26 @ San Jose, March 14, 2013, 7:30pm PST (10:30pm EST)
Thursday night will mark the 26th game for both teams but believe it or not, it will mark the first time the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharkssquare off this season. While it is surprising for division foes to go so long without going head-to-head, it is better late than never.
The Kings at Sharks will meet at the HP Pavilionfor the first of four meetings this season and the first of a home-and-home between the two clubs. Los Angeles certainly hopes for better results this season than they got last season as they won just two of the six meetings with their rivals from northern California last season.
Both teams have gone in opposite directions since the campaign started. While the Kings started slow, the Sharks got off to an explosive beginning only to struggle since then while Los Angeles has picked up their game immensely despite an off-night here and there. Both teams though are separated by a mere two points despite being split by five seeds in the conference standings as of Wednesday night.
While Los Angeles is 7-3-0 in their last 10 games, San Jose is 3-4-3 in their last 10 outings which may not seem like much but given that they are 7-1-4 on home ice this season, it’s fair to say that the Sharks have the advantage over a Kings squad who is a less-than-stellar 5-7-1 away from Staples Center thus far this year. But the Kings haven’t lost back-to-back games since February 10 so they may just use that as a little extra motivation to leave the Pavilion with two points.
While the Kings have had plenty of success from leading scorer Jeff Carter, enough can’t be said for defensemen Slava Voynov and Jake Muzzin who are on their own personal hot streaks. Voynov has nine points in his last six games while Muzzin has seven in his last five. Conversely, the Sharks have a few players on hot streaks as well including Scott Gomez who has four points in his last five and defenseman Matt Irwin who was registered three points in his last three outings.
In goal, while it’s unclear who will start the first game of the home-and-home for Los Angeles, the Sharks will most likely turn to Antti Niemi who is 3-1-0 with a 2.11 goals-against average in five home starts against the Kings. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention Patrick Marleau who always seems to have success against Los Angeles. So, if the Kings hope to win, Marleau will need to be shut down.
We’ve waited long enough for the Kings and Sharks to renew their rivalry and there’s no time like the present. Let’s just hope the wait was worth it.
Enjoy the game!