The Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks will butt heads in the 1st round of the NHL Western Conference Playoffs. The series will get underway on Thursday night in San Jose. According to NHL betting odds the Sharks are a -135 money line favorite in the series, and the Kings are currently a +125 underdog. The Sharks are the #3 seed in the Western Conference, while the Kings come in as the #6 seed in the West. This will be a rematch of last season’s 1st round series that saw the Kings win an exciting series that went the entire 7-games. That series saw 5 of the 7-games decided by 1-goal, and we may very well see more of the same this time around. The home team won 4 of the 5 regular season meetings between these clubs this season. The Kings prevailed in 3 of the 5-games, and 4 of the 5 were decided by 1-goal.
The San Jose Sharks will be out to atone from the bitter disappointment they endured last spring after being on the losing side of a classic 7-game series. Unlike last year’s playoffs it will be the Sharks, and not the Kings who will have the home ice advantage. If the Sharks are to advance beyond this series, they’ll have to do a better job of penetrating the Kings zone than they displayed during the regular season encounters. San Jose was able to score just 8-goals in 5-games versus the Kings. Truth be told, the Sharks had a lot of company in that regard, since the Kings were #1 in the NHL at goals allowed per game. The Sharks will be confident in being able to break through since they were the 6th best scoring team in the NHL. San Jose was also the best in the league averaging 34.8 shots on goal per contest. San Jose was also a very good 29-12 versus the money line on home ice this season.
The Kings are the type of team that opponents dread having to face in the playoffs. They have an excellent goaltender in Jonathan Quick who already has a Stanley Cup championship on his resume. Their defense corps is unquestionably the strongest in the Western Conference, if not in all the NHL. They’re patient, disciplined, and are masters of grinding out wins in low scoring games. They were also a very respectable 23-18 against the money line on the road this season. The Kings have been to the Western Conference Finals the past 2 postseasons, and won the Stanley Cup in 2012. If they have a chink in their armor it’s their lack of explosiveness offensively. The Kings were just 26th in the NHL this season averaging just 2.4 goals per game.
I look for much of the same as we saw during the regular season, and in last season’s playoff series between these clubs. The games will be tightly contested, low scoring, physical, and become a war of attrition. I just firmly believe the Kings are built for those types of games a bit more than the Sharks, and it’s also difficult to fade Jonathan Quick at this time of the year.
Free NHL Pick: Kings over the Sharks in 6-games