San Jose Sharks (51-22-9) at Los Angeles Kings (46-28-8)
|Date & Time||Wednesday October 8, 2014, 10:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Los Angeles Kings -133 / San Jose Sharks +121 --- Over/Under:
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
The Kings begin their defense of the Stanley Cup on Wednesday night as they host their divisional and in-state rivals from San Jose at the Staples Center.
The Sharks are going with a youth movement this season as a number of pieces have moved around or have changed roles and most of that attention surrounds the demotion of long time all star Joe Thornton. San Jose has been a staple of regular season success for the last 10 years but they don’t have anything to show for it and haven’t even made it as far as the Cup finals let alone winning a championship and I think this season we finally see the transition of this team that many have been expecting for quite some time. San Jose was up 3-0 on the Kings before losing four straight contests in the opening round of last season’s playoffs and that was the catalyst for change in San Jose and the catalyst for a second Cup in three season for the Kings who took their confidence and ran with it to capture the league’s highest honour. Logan Couture will be the anchor of this team moving forward and while guys like Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl will play huge roles I think Couture is the face of the franchise and will make the jump this season to be considered among the game’s best players. This is a spot for redemption for the Sharks and with the Kings celebrating their win with a banner raising ceremony it could actually hamper the champs and benefit the road team.
The Kings return all of their pieces from last year’s Cup winning team and have to be at the very least a co-favourite to win the Stanley Cup again this season though they know just how difficult it is to win in successive years. Los Angeles has a ridiculous balance up front as Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik, Dustin Brown, and Mike Richards make up the team’s core on forward and have Drew Doughty, Slava Voynov, Matt Greene, and Jake Muzzin anchoring the blue line all in front of one of the best goalies in the world in Jonathan Quick. This Kings team is scary good and will certainly be on lookout by every team this season and while I think LA can handle it it’ll be interesting to watch just how taxing things get when opponents give you maximal effort every night of the week. With that being said I see a huge gap in talent between these two teams despite them going the distance in last year’s opening round and I think the Kings have the mental edge over San Jose and while this is a new season I certainly see it coming into play.