April 5, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings right wing Justin Williams (14) is defended by San Jose Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle (22) and center Joe Thornton (19) during the third period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Kings Visit Sharks In First Half Of Home-And-Home Series: Game Preview

The Los Angeles Kings (14-9-2) visit the San Jose Sharks (11-8-6) for the first half of a home-and-home series between the two teams that will take place in the next three days.  Also, both teams will play each other four times during this last half of the season.

At this moment the Kings sit two points ahead of the Sharks for second place in the Pacific division.  In all likelihood Anaheim will win the division so the other four teams (separated by four points) will be battling to make the playoffs as one of the lower seeds in the Western Conference.  Right now the Sharks are on the outside looking in sitting in 9th place in the conference.

Los Angeles has been on a tear as of late going 7-3 in their last ten games although they lost their last game to the Coyotes on Tuesday.  San Jose has continued to be mediocre and are 3-4-3 in their last ten.  If they do not pick it up in these next few games it will be very difficult to make the playoffs considering the shortened season is already halfway over.

The Kings are led by center Anze Kopitar who has eight goals and 15 assists for a total of 23 points so far this season.  Winger Jeff Carter is second on the team with 19 total points, 17 of which are goals, good for third-most in the league.  He also has not gone more than two goals without a goal this season which has happened three times this season including right now where he has gone scoreless in his last two games.

Also key for the Kings are defenseman Slava Voynov and forward Mike Richards who have 18 points each.  Voynov has four goals and 14 assists while Richards has tallied seven goals and 11 assists so far this season.

For San Jose Joe Thornton still leads the team with 25 points, 20 of which are assists.  He has an assists in his last two games and will need that mini streak to continue if the Sharks want to be successful tonight.

Parick Marleau has also gotten a point in each of his last two games bringing his totals to 13 goals and seven assists.  He is second on the team with 20 total points.  However, since his first seven games to start the season he has been ICE cold.  How cold?  Well, in his last 19 games he has six points.

What To Watch For

These next two games against the Los Angeles Kings could get a little rough because the Kings are one of the most physical teams in the league.  Up to this point in the season they are fourth in the league in hits although they are less physical on the road than at home. Either way I would not be surprised to see things get chippy, not only due to the Kings’ physicality but also just because it is getting near playoff time and these are bitter division rivals.

Tags: Anze Kopitar Jeff Carter Joe Thornton Los Angeles Mike Richards Patrick Marleau San Jose Sharks Slava Voynov

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