NHL on NBCSN: Sharks face Kings in California clash

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign with Wednesday’s second game as the San Jose Sharks host the Los Angeles Kings at the SAP Center at 10:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

Beating the Los Angeles Kings handily to open the 2014-15 season obviously didn’t erase all the pain from that infamous “reverse sweep” in the 2014 playoffs, but the San Jose Sharks still got a measure of revenge with that 4-0 win.

The Sharks will get another chance to spite the Kings tonight, as things haven’t been going smoothly for the defending champions lately. The aim is obvious enough for a Kings team that is currently on the outside of the playoff picture, as NHL.com notes.

“We need to be in that playoff spot before the break. No doubt about it,” Drew Doughty said . “We need to win this game. It’s a division game and it’s a big rivalry. We need to win it, and we need to go into the break feeling good about ourselves.”

Really, you can trace the bad times back to a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 6. Including that defeat, the Kings have gone 6-7-7 in their past 20 games. More recently, Los Angeles has dropped three straight games and six of seven, squandering precious points from an expired seven-game homestand.

(While four of those defeats netted standings points, there was also the frustration of leaving points on the table.)

Much of those struggles stem from Jonathan Quick’s prolonged slump.

After starting brilliantly (.942 save percentage in October), Quick’s individual stats have dropped significantly each month; his January save percentage has been a putrid .861.

That’s not to say that the Kings are the only team that sees room for improvement, of course.

You know things aren’t going great for a team when its head coach questions their drive, as Sharks bench boss Todd McLellan did on Tuesday.

After beating Toronto to begin this seven-game homestand, the Sharks have dropped two straight games. They would greatly benefit from exploiting this opportunity to load up on standings points.

As much as these two perennial contending California teams have been struggling lately, there’s still plenty of talent on hand. From Joe Thornton to Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture, the Sharks remain loaded with scoring skill. Los Angeles can go toe-to-toe in that area with Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter as well while also boasting elite defenseman Drew Doughty.

Sharks – Kings games are always an entertaining watch, but things get that much more interesting when there’s something on the line. That’s the case tonight, January game or not.