The San Jose Sharks have put themselves in a great position, and in a big way. On Wednesday, they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-2, and on top of their offensive brilliance, climbed to the top of the Pacific Division. Of course, they share the division lead with two other teams, all of the three having 39 points, but the Sharks have played two games less than the Dallas Stars and three fewer games than the Phoenix Coyotes.
Despite being hit with the injury bug, most notably to offseason acquisition Martin Havlat, the Sharks did well without him in their last outing. Of significance is the fact that his replacement, Benn Ferriero, scored the first goal and set up the offensive onslaught against the Lightning just over three minutes into the first period on Wednesday. They're also getting strong play from goalie Antti Niemi, who is 9-2-0 over his last 11 starts at HP Pavilion.
They're up against the Los Angeles Kings on Friday, a team who has been incredibly inconsistent this season, but has still won enough to keep competitive. They're third in the Pacific Division, but only trail by a couple points, and can make big strides with a win over the Sharks on Friday. The game is coming just a day after the Kings beat the fellow rival Anaheim Ducks, winning 3-2 in the shootout.
It's Los Angeles' second-straight win, and they should be confident at this point, especially due to the fact that the teams split the first two meetings this season. It will be interesting to see if the Kings are at all tired out by the consecutive games, and it could be even more significant due to their offensive struggles this season. The name of the game for San Jose will be to put points up early on - if the Kings fall behind it's unlikely they'll be able to mount a comeback, from many different perspectives. For one, there's the potential fatigue, and for two, they're one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league.
The game is set for 7:30 p.m. pacific on Friday, and can be seen on CSN California.