Western Conference quarterfinals
Kings (0-1) vs. San Jose Sharks (1-0) at HP Pavilion, 7 p.m.
Five storylines to track:
1. Stoll-less in San Jose – Just when the sun was beginning to peek out from the clouds, lightning struck again Friday when center Jarret Stoll was suspended for Game 2 following a league review of his check on San Jose defenseman Ian White during a 3-2 overtime loss Thursday night in Game 1. Stoll hit White from behind late in the first period and pinned his head between the boards and his forearm, sending a wobbly White off the ice for the remainder of the game and possibly the series. The Kings will be without their fifth leading scorer, best face-off man and penalty-shot extraordinaire. Other than that, he won't be missed.
2. Schenn-less in San Jose – With the suspension of Stoll, the Kings appeared to have a built-in excuse to bring in Brayden Schenn for a one-game roll out. Schenn, the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft, completed his stellar junior career Wednesday and was officially the property of the Kings again. But management opted to stick with their original plan and start Schenn out in the AHL with the Manchester Monarchs. That could be the surest sign that the Kings are already looking toward next year.
3. Make room for Moller – The Kings hoped to bring in John Zeiler to fill Stoll’s spot on the bench, but Zeiler couldn’t clear re-entry waivers and still get to San Jose in time for Game 2. Zeiler isn’t exactly a scoring threat anyway, just somebody to throw on the ice while the skilled guys get a breather. Instead, the Kings will likely reinsert Oscar Moller in the lineup. If he’s going to have any worth, Moller needs to find a way to overcome his small size and tendency to get knocked off the puck too easily.
4. Fighting words – Many have long questioned the value of having Keven Westgarth in the lineup, and the naysayers were louder than ever heading into Game 1. As the team’s heavyweight enforcer, the popular opinion seems to be his skill set will not be needed in the postseason. But there was Westgarth at the end of the first period Thursday, challenging the entire San Jose bench to a fight after the Sharks badly outplayed the Kings and then tried to rough up Justin Williams following Stoll’s hit on White. Westgarth’s intimidation tactics seemed to work, as San Jose backed off on their cheap shots, Williams earned a goal and an assist in the second period and the Kings picked up some much-needed momentum.
5. Heavy finned Sharks? – The absence of White for the final two periods and 15 minutes of overtime left the Sharks with five defensemen, which put extra minutes on the legs of veteran blue liners Dan Boyle and Niclas Wallin. Boyle, 34, finished with 35 minutes of ice time, nearly nine minutes more than his regular-season average. Wallin, 36, was on the ice for 21:21, about 5 ½ minutes more than his average. With just one day off between games, it will be interesting to see how they bounce back.