San Jose at Los Angeles

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“I felt the intensity of the game wasn’t quite where it would have been if one of these two teams could clinch home ice,” San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. “After that, I thought it was fairly evenly played game. … I think both teams were trying to get through the finish line and get ready for playoffs.” The Kings were in position for a fourth-place finish in the West before losing consecutive road games earlier in the week at Minnesota and Detroit. Los Angeles also lost Brown to a suspension for a hit against the Wild, although he’ll be back for the playoff opener. After a scoreless first period, Clifford took a shot that was blocked by Niemi, but popped over his head and slithered behind the goalie for Clifford’s seventh goal. Just 49 seconds later, Couture skated easily through the Kings’ defense and beat Quick for his 21st goal of the shortened season. Voynov put the Kings back ahead on a deflected slap shot through traffic with a scoring chance set up by Los Angeles’ fourth line – a familiar theme from last season’s Stanley Cup run, when all four Kings lines produced offense regularly. The officials didn’t call a penalty until 5 1/2 minutes into the third period. Los Angeles kept up its offensive pressure and boosted its lead with 8 minutes to play when Richardson went behind the net and found Williams out front for a one-timer. Notes The Kings held San Jose without a shot in the first 8 1/2 minutes. source:

Gallagher: Canucks match up well against St Jose Sharks, with Schneider likely to start

That would appear to be what’s at stake for the respective mentors in this series, even though both Todd McLellan and Alain Vigneault have considerable time left on their contracts. But then, that’s when it’s actually easier to remove a fellow who’s done a solid job for your team ,as both men have, when the blow you are inflicting is certainly not financial. A loss for the Canucks would be another soul-destroying departure in the first round which, even given GM Mike Gillis’ extraordinary loyalty to Vigneault, should result in the most successful coach in the history of the team moving onto another NHL job and this core group, to whom the franchise is committed, being allowed to hear another voice in their dressing room. But let’s not get negative here. There’s no reason why Vancouver should lose this series, the match-up perhaps the best the Canucks could have hoped for given their position in the standings and the alternatives — despite the fact the Sharks won two of the three regular season games between the teams in regulation and the third in OT. In ducking LA the Canucks avoid an extremely physical matchup whereby they are much smaller than their opponent but the Sharks come in with some momentum of their own. Like last year’s opponent which boasted Jonathan Quick, the Sharks have the very hot Antti Niemi manning their goal. The Canucks lost a series to him when he was in Chicago, his coverage of the bottom part of the net making it absolutely necessary for shooters to get the puck up to find the net, something that troubles most teams. When these teams last played a series two years ago in Vancouver’s run to the final, the Sharks had a significantly higher physical component going for them, the likes of Ryane Clowe, Douglas Murray and Jamie McGinn running around. McGinn took several runs at Vancouver players, most notably Daniel Sedin and Christian Ehrhoff. Not seeing those guys out on the ice certainly improves Vancouver’s chances of getting through a series healthier than might have been the case two years ago, and health is crucial to this team if they wish to keep advancing. source:

San Jose Sharks top list of Bay Area’s longest playoff streaks

San Jose’s hockey team has not missed the postseason since 2002-03, a run of nine straight appearances (the 2004-05 season was canceled because of the NHL lockout). But the longest streaks of the other six teams are worth noting: 49ers The San Francisco 49ers are runners-up to the Sharks in terms of consecutive playoff trips, with an impressive eight straight postseason appearances from 1983-90. The 49ers won three Super Bowls in that stretch. RAIDERS The Oakland Raiders are next on the list with six straight playoff appearances. They made the postseason every year from 1972-77, including their first Super Bowl championship team of 1976. EARTHQUAKES The soccer Earthquakes are sometimes left out of the Bay Area pro sport discussion. But with five straight playoff teams from 2001-05, they rank ahead of several other franchises in this category. During that time window, the Quakes also won two Major League Soccer titles. A’S The Oakland Athletics’ best playoff streak consisted of four straight appearances from 1971-75. source:


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