LA Kings

If the Kings make the playoffs, scheduling and travel should be fun


Intriguing note here from CBC’s Elliotte Friedman:

Conventional wisdom is that the Western Conference matchup to avoid is the No. 4 / No. 5 fight between two of Detroit, Nashville and Chicago. After all, the thinking is, you’d rather finish sixth and face the Pacific Division winner. Here’s the flaw: travel. Since 2000, nine Central Division teams have won a first-round series against a team at least two time zones away. How many went on to reach the Cup Final? One. (That’s Detroit, which captured the crown in 2002.)

Be careful what you wish for, especially if it’s the Kings. Get a look at that Staples Center schedule.

On it.

The NHL playoffs begin on Wednesday, Apr. 11. According to the Staples Center schedule, there are Lakers/Clippers games booked for Friday (7:30pm), Saturday (12:30pm), Sunday (12:30pm), Monday (7:30pm) and Tuesday (7:30pm).

The arena is vacant for Wednesday the 18th, then booked for the evenings of the 19th and 20th for Mexican pop rock outfit Mana.

NHL playoff series are 2-2-1-1-1 affairs with the higher seed opening at home. Should the Kings win the Pacific Division and finish third overall, they’ll hold home-ice advantage over the No. 6 seed…and that’s where things could get interesting.

The series could open at Staples on the 11th, but would then be forced into either a back-to-back (on the 12th) or having two off days before resuming on the 14th — after the Clippers-Warriors game, when they transition from hardwood to ice. (Which always makes for great ice.)

The series could also open on the 12th, then play the evening of the 14th. But the later the series starts, the more likely a potential Game 5 return date falls into the Staples gauntlet (when the evenings of the 17th, 19th and 20th are booked.)

That said, it is possible for NHL teams to flex muscle and move preexisting events out. A good example of this occurred last postseason, when the Vancouver Canucks bumped a Supertramp concert from Rogers Arena because it conflicted with Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.

Sharks name Pavelski captain; Thornton, Couture alternates

Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton
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Joe Pavelski is the new captain of the San Jose Sharks. The club made the announcement today via Twitter.

The former captain, Joe Thornton, will be an alternate captain, along with Logan Couture.

Pavelski, 31, was the Sharks’ leading scorer last season, finishing with 37 goals and 33 assists. He’s also signed through 2018-19, so giving him the ‘C’ makes sense from a long-term stability perspective.

Couture, 26, is also signed through 2018-19, while Thornton, 36, only has two years left on his contract.

The Sharks had four alternate captains (Thornton, Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic) in 2014-15, but no captain.

Related: DeBoer says Sharks will have a captain next season

After PTO, Upshall signs one-year deal with Blues

Florida Panthers v Ottawa Senators
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Scottie Upshall has parlayed his training camp tryout into a contract with St. Louis.

On Monday, the Blues agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the veteran forward, worth $700,000 at the NHL level. The deal comes after Upshall spent all of training camp and the preseason impressing the Blues his speed and skating ability, no small feat for a 31-year-old veteran with over 500 NHL games on his odometer.

But where Upshall fits in the Blues lineup — and within the organization — remains to be seen.

The club has plenty of depth up front and Upshall isn’t coming off a terrific campaign, having scored just eight goals and 15 points in 63 games with Florida last season. That said, he showed enough to be just one of a handful of veterans on PTOs to score a contract.