SAN JOSE, Calif. — The implications of Wednesday’s Game 7 (6:30 p.m., Prime Ticket) between the Kings and the Sharks has vastly different meanings for each team.
For the Kings, it only continues to build up an already stellar resume, highlighted by their 2012 Stanley Cup. They defeated the Sharks in seven games last year, and they’ll prove once again that they are the superior team in the rivalry if they can secure the victory.
But for the Sharks, it’s a much different story.
Their playoff history was once a rich one but when the Kings took over as the dominant Western Conference postseason team, the Sharks faltered. The perennial favorites haven’t been favored much in the postseason, as they have failed to advance to the conference finals since 2011.
"I’ve been here for six years and I’ve been hearing it for six," said Sharks’ defenseman Dan Boyle. "Some guys have been hearing it longer. It certainly gets old and it gets pretty tiring. You’ve just got to go out there and do it. Talking about it isn’t going to do anything. You’ve got to go out there and do it and I’m looking forward to the opportunity tonight."
Only one of those teams’ messages will matter after Wednesday night.
"Everybody is working toward the same goal," said Kings’ forward Justin Williams. "Everybody on this team, I feel, has the ability to rise to the occasion instead instead of wilt."
"This is fun. Everyone’s going to talk about how we got to this point, but at this point it really doesn’t matter," Boyle said. "We’re in Game 7 and we’ve got to move a hockey game to move on and we’re at home. So you’re right, this is fun and we’ve got to channel the energy the right way."
Other morning skate notes:
— The first goal in Game 7 is going to be the most crucial. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the team that has scored first in the last 16 game 7s has won the decisive game.
"We certainly can’t do what we did the first two games we did here, which was let them have a great start and let them carry the puck for most of the game," Williams said. "I’m sure they’re pushing just as much as they’re pushing to have a great start to their game. Hopefully having the first goal and not looking back."
McLellan confirms Niemi back in net. Worked on some things with goaltender coach the last few days.
Antti Niemi is back in the net for San Jose and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic is still out. For the Kings, defenseman Willie Mitchell will not play. Matt Greene, who played in Games 1 and 2 of the series, will take his place.
Kings’ defenseman Drew Doughty’s childhood friend, Logan Couture, said that as good as he’s seen Doughty play in this series, it’s not the best he’s ever seen him in action.
"I think the best I saw Drew play was in the Olympics this year," Couture said. "I think he was one of the best players in the world at that time."
Luckily for the Kings, this game has the feel of an Olympic gold-medal matchup, according to Doughty.
"You treat this Game 7 as if it is the Olympic gold medal game or the Stanley Cup finals," Doughty said. "For me personally, I need to have an unbelievable game for our team to win tonight. I need my A-game, I need to do everything right, I need to play well defensively, I need to chip in on the offense, I need to dominate on special teams. That’s just how I look at it."