NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Los Angeles Kings host the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center at 10 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.
The San Jose Sharks went through what some described as a “nervous breakdown” over the summer.
Sharks GM Doug Wilson said in May that the status quo wasn’t an option and while he didn’t make substantial roster changes, he did shift the emphasis to San Jose’s younger players and Joe Thornton has been stripped of the captaincy.
Every aspect of the Sharks from their veterans to leadership to management have been put through the wringer as a result of their historic collapse against the Los Angeles Kings in the first round. The Sharks had a 3-0 series lead and blew it.
“Once we won that first game in the San Jose series, we kind of had a feeling we were going to come back and win that series, and you could see it in their eyes and their team and their captains and leaders that they were worried about us coming back, so we don’t want to give these guys any life,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty recalled, per LA Kings Insider.
San Jose’s geographical rivals went on to win the Stanley Cup for the second time in three years, which is two more championships than Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and the Sharks’ franchise has ever won despite putting a number of great teams on the ice over the years.
Beating the Kings in the opener won’t put their past shortcomings behind them. But it’s a good start.
For Los Angeles, this game is about putting the right foot forward in its defense of the Stanley Cup. The Kings weren’t able to successfully defend their last championship, but they came close by going all the way to the Western Conference Final.
They also have the luxury of experience now that they know exactly what to expect as the team that everyone wants a piece of. A full season of Marian Gaborik should help too after he played a key role in their 2014 playoff run.
There’s every reason to believe the Kings can compete again and their opener against the hungry Sharks should be a good first test.