After taking a nice, relaxing weekend off, we here at ZelePUCKin are ready to get back at it. Monday's game of the night is a Pacific Division rivalry game between the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks. The puck will drop at 10:30 at the Shark Tank, or the HP Pavillion for those who don't know, in San Jose, California.
The Kings last played on Saturday when they beat the Islanders by a score of 5-1. That game was played at Staples Center, a place where the Kings have gone undefeated so far this season. Their 8-0 home record has helped them to a 12-3 start, good for first place in the Pacific Division and the Western Conference. The Kings offense starts with Justin Williams (8-8-
[caption id="attachment_392" align="alignleft" width="245" caption="Anze Kopitar and the Kings take on the Sharks tonight at 10:30"][/caption]
16) and Anze Kopitar (6-10-16). The Kings have three other players on their roster with ten or more points, including Jarret Stoll (5-9-14), Jack Johnson (1-12-13), and Dustin Brown (8-4-12). The Kings defense has also been playing outstanding so far this year, led by Jack Johnson (+5) and Drew Doughty (1-2-3 +4). Jonathan Quick has been playing out of his mind so far this year, compiling a 10-1 record with a .944 save percentage and a 1.52 goals against average. With his play, Quick has remained the number one goalie in Hollywood despite promising prospect Jonathan Bernier. Their six game win streak will be on the line tonight.
The Sharks have not started off this season the way they wanted to. Usually up near the top of the standings in the regular season, this years version of the San Jose Sharks is currently resting in 9th place in the Western Conference and 4th in the Pacific Division. They are led by captain Joe Thornton who leads the team with 16 points (6-10) despite having to serve a 2 game suspension for a hit in their game against the Blues earlier in the season. Following Thornton's lead, the Sharks have five other players with over ten points. Dany Heatley (6-9-15), Patrick Marleau (6-8-14), Joe Pavelski (4-8-12), Dan Boyle (2-10-12), and Ryan Clowe (3-8-11) have all had decent success so far this season. In net, it's been Antero Niittymaki getting the majority of the starts and not disappointing. He is 6-1-2 in 9 games with a .929 and a 1.80. Free agent Antti Niemi, who backstopped the Blackhawks to their Cup win last summer, has been less than stellar, compiling a 2-4-0 record, an .878, and a 3.73. I would expect Niitty to get the start tonight against a tough Kings team.
I would think that the Kings keep their season rolling along. They have proven what kind of team they are night in and night out. They have exceptional special teams, ranking 15th on the powerplay and 1st in penalty killing. Look for the special teams battle to be prevalent tonight as the Sharks have the 11st best penalty kill and the 5th best powerplay. If the Kings can stay out of the box and/or keep their incredible penalty killing up, they will come out victorious in this one. I would say Kings win 4-1 tonight keeping up with the top teams in the league and maintaining their rank of second in the league, while the Sharks continue their struggle for the eighth seed in the west.