Here are some keys to victory for the Los Angeles Kings as they prepare to take on the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center.
Ride the Psychological Momentum
The Kings have won the last two meetings against the Sharks, and that playoff series loss last season is in their rear view mirror. With the game being held in Los Angeles, there’s no reason to expect a letdown. The Kings are 14-7-1 at Staples Center, and the raucous crowd is ready for some exciting hockey.
Averaging a point per game as a defenseman is a special feat, and Burns is probably the most gifted offensive blueliner in the Western Conference. That big contract extension he signed earlier this season is already looking like an incredible investment. During his last 6 games, Burns has accumulated 3 goals, 7 assists, and 10 points. Slowing him down will be a difficult task for the Kings, but one that will make a victory much easier to obtain. The size and athleticism Burns has is unique, and negating his scoring flair is crucial.
Much like how the Kings have seen a relative lack of production from a couple high scoring forwards on their roster, the Sharks have endured lower scoring totals from guys like Joe Thornton and Logan Couture. Thornton had 82 points in 82 games last season, but is sitting at 27 points in 44 games so far. He’s 37 years old, and eventual decline is inevitable, but there weren’t hints last season that something this stark would happen this year. Thornton has just 2 points in the last 7 games. Couture is only 27, so it’s not as easy to blame his decline on aging. Couture had 36 points in 52 games last season, while this year he’s at 27 points in 44 games. Those two have been valuable components to this offense for years now, and the Los Angeles defense can’t let them regain their prowess.