Sharks-Kings Series Preview

This is the series I am most looking forward to. These don’t appear to be the San Jose Sharks we are used to. By that I mean it’s no longer a team that hinges on the success of Joe Thorton and Patrick Marleau. Sure, they still play an important role on this team but I look at the Sharks as a team that now belongs to Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture. The Sharks easily handled the Vancouver Canucks in round one and head into the Conference Semi-Finals a well-rested and confident bunch.

Let’s not give the Sharks $200 for passing “Go” just yet. These are the Kings, the king of all Kings if you will, the defending Stanley Cup Champion. Throw out the first two games against the Blues in the first round and you could say the Kings handled the Blues pretty easily as well. After a little bump in the road to get things started, the Kings rattled off 4 straight wins to send St. Louis home….again.

Guys to Watch in This Series

Jeff Carter Carter has been a thorn in the side for me personally for many years and I think that’s a pretty valid statement for most fans in the NHL. It just seems like there are certain guys on the ice that are always in the right place at the right time and the puck just seems to find their stick. Jeff Carter is one of those guys and he possesses a laser accurate wrist shot that will make any goalie lose sleep at night.

Drew Doughty – I don’t think he had the best year of his career in the regular season but the Drew Doughty that showed up in the Spring/Summer of 2012 en route to the Stanley Cup seems to have re-emerged.  I think a large part of his sudden kick-assness is due to the arrival of veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr.

Joe Pavelski – Little Joe seems to shine when the games gets into the later stages. When the Sharks need a big goal, Pavelski seems to be right there, ready to answer the call. The Blues had some talent but I don’t think the Kings faced anyone quite like Pavelski in the first round.

Logan Couture – Coming off a series in which he dominated play. He’s a skilled player with a bit of an attitude and is ready to answer the bell when the game gets close. He, much like Pavelski is coming off a series against the Canucks that netted him 8 points (3G, 5A) and like I said above, this is the Pavelski/Couture era.

The Men In-Between the Pipes

Quick, reigning Conn Smyth winner, has a 1.58 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage with one shutout after the first round and will prove to be an obstacle for the Sharks. Vezina Trophy candidate Antti Niemi has a 1.86 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage after the first round. Both of the goaltenders knows what it takes to drink for Lord Stanley’s Cup and both aren’t going to give much to the opposition, that is if Quick stays in his crease.

So Who Wins?

I think we are looking at a very long series with a lot of 1 goal games. The Kings are a confident bunch. They didn’t let a 2-0 series deficit get to them and they pulled off 4 straight wins to win round one in six games. The Sharks are also a confident bunch after sweeping their way through round one. This series has the promise of something epic.

So who wins?? It’s a tough question to answer and part of me hates me for this prediction because they’ve burned me so many times before but I am going to pick the San Jose Sharks in 7.