The Los Angeles Kings open their 2011 NHL Playoffs with a first-round matchup against the Pacific Division champion San Jose Sharks. The No. 2 seed Sharks have home ice advantage over the No. 7 Kings, so Thursday night's 7 p.m. PDT Game 1 is at HP Pavilion up north. The game will be televised on Fox Sports West, Versus, and TSN.
Rudy Kelly of Battle of California thinks the Kings need to stop Joe Thornton of the Sharks to win:
The thing with Joe Thornton is that he's really, really good. Ridiculously good. Fabulously good. But one thing he's not is fast. What Joe does is create space with his bulbous ass while he lets the play develop in front of him. The only way to prevent him from doing this is to cut off that space and prevent Joe from moving around along the boards. It's easier said than done but it can be done. The Kings have 3 players that can effectively take away Joe Thornton's breathing room: , , and .
At the Sharks' SB Nation blog Fear The Fin, Mr. Plank thinks the Sharks need to score early tonight to win:
The key for the Sharks tonight? Getting the first goal, preferably ten minutes into the first period. If Los Angeles strikes first that defensive shell will go up quickly, playing to the Kings strengths and allowing them to dictate the pace by slowing San Jose down in the neutral zone. If San Jose scores first, and manages to take a lead into the third period, the Kings will have to open their game up and begin to stray from their gameplan. That spells success for San Jose.
The Kings were 3-3 against the Sharks during the regular season, with two shootout wins.
For more news and information on the Kings, or this first-round matchup, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Jewels From The Crown.