San Jose (0-0) at Los Angeles (0-0)
When: Thursday, April 14th 2016
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Time: 10:35 ET | TV: CNBC
The San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings are not strangers to each other when it comes to playoff time. The two teams meet for the fourth time in the last five seasons when they begin a first round series in Los Angeles on Thursday. The last time they met was in the first round of the 2014 playoffs and the Kings overcame a 3-0 deficit to win the next four games and go on to win their second Stanley Cup in three seasons. The Kings will need 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick to be on his game as he set a franchise record with 40 wins during the regular season. L.A. is hoping to have Marian Gaborik and defensemen Alec Martinez and Matt Greene in the lineup at some point during the series, as all three participated in practice Wednesday. Gaborik has been out for two months with a knee injury, while Martinez sat out the final week of the regular season with an undisclosed ailment. Greene has not played since October 13th because of a shoulder ailment that required surgery in December. Tyler Toffoli, who became the first King to hit the 30-goal plateau since Anze Kopitar in 2008-09 with 31, ended the season on a high-note with nine points (four goals) in his final eight games.
The Sharks ended the season with the best road record in the NHL at 28-10-3 and won both of their visits to the Staples Center this season. Former King Martin Jones will start in net for San Jose, who was acquired from Boston four days after Los Angeles traded him to the Bruins last summer. Jones went 37-23-4 with six shutouts and a 2.27 goals-against average in his first season as a starter and got the decision in all five meetings with the Kings (3-1-1). The Sharks will likely have blue-liner Marc-Edouard Vlasic back for the series opener after missing the final 12 regular-season games with a knee injury. Captain Joe Pavelski led San Jose with 10 points (four goals) in the season series against Los Angeles. The Sharks ended the regular season 4th in goals (2.9) and 3rd on the power-play (22.5%).
This should be a terrific series with the road team having the advantage oddly enough. The Sharks are great away from home and under .500 at home. If you stick to the road team in each game, you should come out on top.
Pick: Sharks +123