Series preview: Los Angeles Kings (5) vs. San Jose Sharks (6)

In the first round, the Kings put on a defensive clinic.

Series preview: Los Angeles Kings (5) vs. San Jose Sharks (6)

STRENGTHS

Kings

They have three solid lines in Jeff Carter-Mike Richards-Dwight King, Anze Kopitar-Dustin Brown-Justin Williams and Dustin Penner-Jarrett Stoll-Trevor Lewis.

On defence, the defensive-minded Robyn Regehr is a perfect partner for the freewheeling Drew Doughty, and Rob Scuderi and Alec Martinez are an excellent shutdown pair.

In the first round, they put on a defensive clinic, holding the Blues to 10 goals in six games.

Sharks

Antti Niemi, one of the three Vezina nominees, is proving to be a money goalie in the playoffs. In sweeping the Canucks, he had two overtime wins and now has an 11-2 overtime record in the playoffs.

Overall, his playoff record is 29-19 and he’s won seven of the nine series he’s played.

In the first round, he was sixth in goals-against average, 1.86, and save percentage, .937.

The Sharks were also third in scoring in the first round, averaging 3.75 goals per game, and had the second-best power play at 29.2 per cent.

WEAKNESSES

Kings

The Kings averaged just 24.8 shots in the first round. That was 16th among 16 teams. They also averaged just two goals a game. That was 12th of 16 teams.

Of their 12 goals, three were scored by Jeff Carter.

They get it done with defence, of course, but an extra goal or two wouldn’t hurt.

Also, while the Kings are fourth at penalty killing (88.2 per cent), they’re 12th on the power play at 13.3 per cent.

Sharks

The Sharks were a streaky team during the regular season and they’ll be tested by the weeklong layoff they’ve had. Everything went as well as it possibly could in the first round, but they’ll have to come out with the motor running.

It also looks as if they’re going to be without Martin Havlat, who has been out since getting speared by Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa in Game 1.

For the Kings to win

As good as Niemi was in the first round, Jonathan Quick was better. After losing the first two games, the first through his own giveaway, Quick still finished with a 1.58 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage.

He’s starting to look like the guy who won the Conn Smythe Trophy last year.

For the Sharks to win

For too many years, the Sharks had fallen because their stars haven’t produced.

In the first round, though, their stars were stars: Logan Couture (three goals) and Joe Pavelski (four goals) each had eight points, Joe Thornton, usually a disappointment, had six points (one goal) and Patrick Marleau had five (four goals).

They’ll need that to continue.

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