They’re still picking up confetti from the floor from Kobe Bryant’s last hurrah, as the San Jose Sharks begin their 19th quest for Lord Stanley. To go where no Sharks team has gone before, they will have to slay one of their biggest ghosts. We won’t talk about two years ago, because the focus should be on now where Team Teal took care of Los Angeles twice on Staples Center ice, along with all three wins against the Kings with Jonathan Quick in net. (If Los Angeles puts Jonas Enroth in net, it could be that backup kryptonite the Sharks have a tough time with so many times.)
For San Jose, it looks like all hands are on deck, healthy and ready to go. Marc-Edouard Vlasic will be back with his defensive partner Justin Braun. Matt Nieto is expected to return as well after missing the end of year due to a broken knuckle. He’ll go to the fourth line with Chris Tierney and Melker Karlsson along with some time on the penalty kill. To make room for Nieto, it’s expected that Dainius Zubrus will sit out Game 1 and Nick Spaling will jump up to the third line. Here’s how San Jose will shape up in Game 1:
Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi – Logan Couture – Joel Ward
Nick Spaling – Patrick Marleau – Tommy Wingels
Melker Karlsson – Chris Tierney – Matt Nieto
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – Roman Polak
Martin Jones (confirmed)
The Los Angeles Kings are on a mission to have the same path the San Francisco Giants have going with them. Win it all every even year. While their defense core isn’t quite up to snuff in past years, it’s still very good led by Norris candidate Drew Doughty. Alec Martinez is supposed to return in this series, but it’s unknown at the moment. While Jonathan Quick struggled against San Jose, he has built a reputation of being one of the stronger netminders in the postseason.
Everyone (besides those here on Pucknology except Ian) will be picking the Kings to win this series and for good reason. There is the sense that the Sharks organization can’t get over tough scenarios from the past. Something that you have noticed this season is that this team has a new sense of hunger. They do get up for big games, which every game until mid-June will be. If you can’t get up to exact revenge, take down an arrogant rival, work to finally achieve squad goals, then don’t put on the sweater that represents you with San Jose, Northern California and your teammates.
Pucknology After Dark will be with you after Game 1, check us out and subscribe at http://www.youtube.com/PucknologyAfterDark1 and join the “chomp”versation with us after the game.