The Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks open up the 2016-17 NHL season Wednesday night at the SAP Center.
The Los Angeles Kings hope to get back on track after a disappointing first round exit in the playoffs. The Kings made some interesting moves during the offseason in hopes of shaking things up, which includes Milan Lucic ending up in Edmonton and bringing back Teddy Purcell after he spent his first three years with Los Angeles. The most interesting move of all for the Los Angeles Kings is making Anze Kopitar captain after Dustin Brown held the title since the 2008 season, something that could have ruffled a locker room if not handled well. Either way, the Los Angeles Kings are an experienced club that may not have the same feel as they did in years past, but are still a team to respect in the Western Conference. A combination of Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar is still good enough to the Kings competitive most nights.
The San Jose Sharks feel like they have unfinished business after winning 40-plus games the last three seasons and losing the Stanley Cup Finals last year. While making it through the West won’t be easy to do back-to-back seasons, they do return their key core that has five players who scored 20-plus goals and have solid goaltending led by Martin Jones. A trio of Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns and Patrick Marleau is as good as it gets on the offensive side and helped the Sharks finish fourth in the league in goals scored. The San Jose Sharks are deep, explosive offensively and have as good of chance to make another playoff run in the league as anybody. It just comes down to whether the Sharks have enough juice to get through the tough West once again.
The Kings are 7-2 in their last 9 games playing on 3 or more days rest and 1-5 in their last 6 vs. Western Conference. The Sharks are 10-2 in their last 12 games playing on 2 days rest and 8-3 in their last 11 home games. The Kings are 17-35 in the last 52 meetings in San Jose and 1-5 in the last 6 meetings overall.
The San Jose Sharks have won five of their last six games and seven of their last 10 against the Los Angeles Kings. The Sharks also have to be highly motivated to get off to a strong start with the team they return and with the way things ended last season. There's also going to be a ton of energy in the building with this being the season opener. Given the history between these two clubs, I like the Sharks to get the job done on their home ice.