San Jose Sharks (40-33-9) at Los Angeles Kings (40-27-15)
|Date & Time||Wednesday October 7, 2015, 10:30 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Los Angeles Kings -130 / San Jose Sharks +110 --- Over/Under: 5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
The Kings and Sharks lock up at the Staples Center on Wednesday night in a Pacific division show down and in-state battle between two bitter Western Conference rivals.
The San Jose Sharks have long been criticized for their early departures from the NHL playoffs but last season was even worse as they failed to qualify altogether and finished in fifth place in the Pacific division behind the LA Kings. The Sharks fired long time head coach Todd MacLellan and moved on from Antii Niemi between the pipes and will now rely on former Kings backup Martin Jones and their own back up Alex Stalock in a platoon system until one emerges as the go to guy. The Sharks still have a nice core in the form of veterans Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau but perhaps this is the season where the youngsters take over as Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, and Tomas Hertl need to be the face of this team moving forward and the longer they are held back the tougher it'll be for this team to make the playoffs. Defensively, the Sharks have some pieces in Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Paul Martin but against a tough and physical team like the Kings they may be in a tough position and are susceptible to getting pushed around.
Los Angeles continued their weird streak of winning the Stanley Cup and then falling flat the next year as they too missed the Western Conference playoffs and will be looking to get back in the dance this season. LA though unlike San Jose remains a Cup favourite in the West as they return a ton of quality players and brought in some grit and scoring ability in the form of Milan Lucic who will fit in perfectly alongside Marian Gaborik and Anze Kopitar. The Kings also return Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli, Dustin Brown, and Dwight King as well as Tanner Pearson and a slew of defensemen led by Jake Muzzin and Drew Doughty. Add in Jonathan Quick who remains a top five goalie in the NHL and they have all the pieces to go on a run once again and I think that starts at home in a favourable match up against the Sharks.