The Pacific Division rival Los Angeles Kings visit the San Jose Sharks Thursday, March 14. It marks their first match-up since dropping both sides of the home-and-home mini-series to end last season and fall behind behind their Northern California neighbors in the Western Conference standings.
They probably got over it as soon as they won the 2012 Stanley Cup. But is it possible the Sharks can still carry their long-time dominance to an edge head-to-head? After all, they dominate the Detroit Red Wings even though that team has a title.
One intangible that will be easy to put in the win column for the Kings is how the teams are playing right now. They have just four losses in their last 15 games, while the Sharks have just two non-shootout wins in their last 20.
While the game is in San Jose, it might as well be part of the road trip because the team will not get three full nights at home before heading off again. Still, the Sharks have only one regulation loss at home all season, and that was to a team that went half the season without losing anything more than a shootout.
The statistical comparison is gives a more defined edge: Los Angeles has a better differentials in shots (plus-4.3 vs. plus-1.6) and goals (scoring about one more every three games than their opponents while San Jose is short one in every six games), on the power play (19.4 to 17 percent) and at even strength where their opponents score less than anyone else in the NHL.
The Sharks have the edge on the penalty kill, 87.2 to 81.6 percent, and hold a 53.2 to 51.7 edge in the circle. Despite having the third-most giveaways in the NHL, they hold a larger edge in takeaways (48 more compared to 32 fewer). The Kings hold a whopping 753-395 edge in hits, but they have 152 fewer blocks—a far less subjective statistic.
In the only stat that matters, San Jose could catch Los Angeles in the Pacific Division and Western Conference standings with a regulation win. When teams are that close, a look at the current personnel can provide a better idea of which team is better than statistics.