Kings vs Sharks. Sharks vs Kings. The Battle of California starts in round one this year in the 2014 NHL playoffs. The 2014 NHL playoffs kick off after an exciting regular season that saw some the teams solidified by the final game, but some teams still scrambling for position.
These teams have no love lost for each other, with a rivalry that goes back to a time before the San Jose Sharks exited as such. Many consider the Battle of California rivalry to have started in the back in the NHL’s original expansion of 1967, when the NHL added its first two teams west of the Mississippi – the Los Angeles Kings and the California Golden Seals. The management of the Golden Seals would later take part in a deal that divided the Minnesota North Stars (now Dallas Stars) and gave birth to the San Jose Sharks in 1991.
Their rivalry heated up last year in the Sharks vs Kings series in round two of the playoffs. The Kings sent the Sharks home, but took the full seven games to do it. The Kings went on to lose in the Western Conference finals to eventual Stanley Cup champions the Chicago Blackhawks.
Under the NHL’s new playoff format, each division’s second and third place team play one another in the opening round. The second place San Jose Sharks have the home ice advantage when the puck drops in the Kings vs Sharks best of seven series.
According to a Yahoo! Sports report, the Sharks enter game one of the opening series with a big question mark in their goalie situation. Niemi has been the starter most of the season, but Alex Stalock has been hot, while Niemi has struggled towards the end of the regular season. At the time of this writing, the Sharks have not said who will be between the pipes.
The Kings’ goalie situation isn’t so ambiguous. Jonathan Quick has been known to pick then-mediocre Kings teams up on his shoulders and carry them deep into the playoffs– even carrying the eighth seeded 2011-2012 squad all the way to drinking champagne from Lord Stanley’s Cup. He’s had a.940 save percentage in the last two playoff years and leads the NHL’s net minders in playoff wins with 25, shutouts with 6 and goals against average with 1.62 – unless the Sharks can arrange a kidnapping, Quick will be guarding the net from game one of the Sharks vs Kings series until his team is eliminated or they hoist the Cup.
If you find yourself away from the television or in an area where they’re not covering the Sharks vs Kings series, don’t let that stop you from enjoying the game. You can watch the Kings vs Sharks series streaming online for free here.
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