warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs Series Preview: Sharks-Kings

Graham Jenkins |
May 14, 2013 | 7:43 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

We have ourselves a NorCal-SoCal battle between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings. This series will likely go the distance because these teams are very evenly matched.

#5 Los Angeles Kings vs. #6 San Jose Sharks

Season Series

  • Sharks: 2-2-0
  • Kings: 2-1-1

Key Players


Logan Couture scored three power play goals against the Vancouver Canucks last series. (sarah_connors/Creative Commons)
Logan Couture scored three power play goals against the Vancouver Canucks last series. (sarah_connors/Creative Commons)

The Sharks and Kings won two games against each other in their four-game season series, with the Kings winning both of their games in regulation while the Sharks won one in a shootout. The Kings controlled the puck at even strength more in the Sharks’ zone than the Sharks did in the Kings’ zone for in the division series. The home team won each game.

The Sharks swept the Vancouver Canucks in the first round. One of their lethal weapons they unleashed on the Canucks was their power play, which scored three goals in Game 3 and Game 4 at home. The power play is producing at a 29.2-percent efficiency, so a great strategy for the Kings would be to stay out of the penalty box. The Canucks actually controlled the puck in the Sharks’ zone at even strength more than the Sharks did in the Canucks’ zone, but Antii Niemi carried the Sharks during even strength while the offense took care of business on the man advantage. Because the Sharks swept their series, Game 1 will be the first game they will have played in a week, and that fact could prove very beneficial for them against the Kings.

The Kings will have home ice advantage in a playoff series for the first time since 1992, when Wayne Gretzky was still playing for the Kings. Last series, the Kings battled back from an 0-2 series deficit after a rocky couple of games against the Blues. Blues forward Alexander Steen stole the puck from goaltender Jonathan Quick behind his net while shorthanded and buried the game-winning goal into the open net to win Game 1. After the Blues tied the game earlier in the third period, Barret Jackman fired a point shot past Quick with under a minute left to help the Blues win Game 2. After that, Quick allowed six total goals in the next four games, and as Quick improved, so did the Kings. The Kings won the next four games of the series, dominating possession in the first two games they won to even the series. While Quick carried the Kings the last two games of that series, the offense did enough to win.

While converting at a 29.2-percent efficiency rating on the power play is nice, the Sharks need to focus on getting goals against the Kings at even strength, and with Quick performing like he is, that’s going to be a tall task. To do this, the Sharks will call upon rising star Logan Couture, who has three goals and five assists so far in the playoffs, and Joe Pavelski, who has four goals and four assists. It’s also likely the Sharks could get offensive production from captain Joe Thornton (one goal, five assists) and Patrick Marleau (four goals, one assist). The Sharks scored 15 goals against the Canucks, with seven of those goals scored on the power play.

For the Kings, Mike Richards led the team with five points courtesy of five assists, while Anze Kopitar was not far behind him with four points (one goal, three assists). Jeff Carter led the team with three goals against the Blues, and Justin Williams, Dustin Penner and Slava Voynov each scored a pair of goals last series. The Kings scored 10 of their 12 goals at even strength.

The team that will come out of this series will ultimately be the team with the hotter goaltender, and one that will take advantage of the opportunities it is given. Looking at the numbers right now, Jonathan Quick looks to be the hotter goaltender, as he is posting a 1.58 GAA, .944 save percentage playoff performance. Antii Niemi, however, is not far behind him, as he’s posting a highly respectable 1.86 GAA and .937 save percentage. Both goaltenders are very capable of carrying their teams through even strength, and this series will likely be a goaltender duel between Quick and Niemi. 

Jeff Carter, left, and Mike Richards, right, will want to get past their Pacific Division rivals, the San Jose Sharks, in the second round. (MR_53/Creative Commons)
Jeff Carter, left, and Mike Richards, right, will want to get past their Pacific Division rivals, the San Jose Sharks, in the second round. (MR_53/Creative Commons)

If this becomes a special teams battle, the Sharks have a slight edge. They destroyed the Canucks' penalty kill unit that killed off 84 percent of the penalties during the regular season, scoring seven power play goals on 24 chances in the first round.

However, the Kings have killed 88.2 percent of the penalties they've taken in the playoffs, and they shut down a Blues power play unit that converted 19.5 percent of their chances during the regular season. The Kings have converted on only 13.3 percent of their power play chances in the playoffs, but they’ve only had 15 chances so far. The Kings converted on 19.9 percent of their chances during the regular season, not too far behind the Sharks at 20.1 percent during the regular season. The Sharks have killed 80 percent of their penalties taken so far, but they have only been shorthanded 10 times. The Sharks killed off 85% of their penalties during the regular season.

In what will perhaps be the toughest series to predict this round, the two teams will likely go the distance. Ultimately, because of how deadly their power play has been so far, I believe it will help push the Sharks over the edge, and they will prevail. Antii Niemi is capable of carrying the Sharks during even strength, and the power play will take care of the rest.

Prediction: Sharks in 7.

Reach Staff Writer Graham Jenkins here, or follow him on Twitter.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.