Friday, December 31, 2010
Kings: Hoping to nip this streak in the bud
By Dan Arritt
San Jose Sharks (20-13-5) vs. Kings (22-14-1) at Staples Center, 6 p.m.
Five storylines to track:
1. Lesson learned – Time to wipe the slate clean. The Kings don’t want their two-game losing streak to extend any further and leave the locker room feeling like after-school detention. Hockey, being a sport where the margin of error and success is so minuscule, can change momentum in an instant and the Kings know that well. Kings coach Terry Murray could have run his team ragged during practice Friday, but he elected to keep it short. Expect the Kings to respond well.
2. On the rebound – Jonathan Quick needs a bounce-back game in a big way. He was torched for six goals in about 30 minutes Wednesday night at Phoenix, and allowed another in relief of Jonathan Bernier on Thursday. He shut out the Sharks on Monday, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot at the moment. The first period will be especially huge for Quick.
3. All knotted up– Despite the back-to-back blowout losses against Phoenix and Philadelphia, the Kings were still in fourth place in the Western Conference heading into Friday’s games. San Jose also has 45 points, making this an even more important 'movement' game in the standings. Both teams are also just three points from falling out of the top eight. Through this point last season the Kings were 22-13-3.
4. It’s their turn – The Kings just finished a run of four games in five nights, and the schedule definitely caught up with them in the last two. The Sharks, meanwhile, will be playing their fourth game in six nights, only they’ve had more travel during the stretch, flying from San Jose to Minneapolis to Chicago and back to L.A. It will be interesting to see how much juice San Jose has in its legs.
5. Injury front– The Sharks could be down a couple of centers when they take the ice in Los Angeles. Joe Pavelsi (upper-body injury) and Torrey Mitchell (lower-body injury) missed the last two games and are day-to-day. Pavelski is tied for sixth on the team with 27 points and is among the league's top 10 in blocked shots. Mitchell has four goals and four assists in a checking-line role.