Inexorably linked to The home ice factor in the Kings-Sharks preview series, one of the challenges of facing San Jose is dealing with the team’s notoriously strong starts at home. San Jose led the NHL with 83 first period goals in 2013-14, and outscored their opponents 129-84 at the SAP Center; their +45 home goal differential was the fourth best in the league.
San Jose’s strong starts aren’t limited to home games. The Sharks have scored six goals in the first minutes of a game and 11 goals in the first two minutes of a game this season.
Asked what the Kings have to be cognizant of when facing one of the league’s quickest starting teams, Anze Kopitar referenced the team’s poise early in games.
“Just…be ready right off the start, and not get caught in the moment, if you want to call it that way,” he said. “The building’s going to be loud. Everybody’s going to be excited. It always is that way. Just be ready when the puck drops and play our game, be sharp as best as we can and just go from there.”
Though San Jose scored within the first seven minutes in each of their three home games in last year’s playoff series, during the 2013-14 regular season Los Angeles weathered the storm quite well. The Kings outscored the Sharks 2-0 in the three first periods played at the SAP Center this season.
Nothing to see here, according to Jonathan Quick. The Kings’ goaltender explained the strong road starts as statistics gravitating towards the mean.
“I don’t know, it’s probably just a numbers game,” Jonathan Quick said. “They’ve probably outscored us for so long (in San Jose) that it was about time we outscored them first. Every game you prepare pretty much the same way. Obviously, depending upon who you’re playing, there are certain things you’re paying attention to a little more than others. But I would say it’s probably more of a numbers game than anything. It’s just the numbers evening out a little bit.”
Los Angeles has also enjoyed strong starts, outscoring opponents 66-49 in first periods this season. The plus-17 goal differential was the best out of any period.