San Jose needs fast start against Los Angeles

San Jose covets rollicking start vs. Los Angeles

Despite advancing all the way to the Stanley Cup finals lastseason,the Sharks weren’t happy about their home woes. Tonight presents the perfect opportunity to set the right tone for 2016-17.

Peter DeBoer’s troops open against the hated Kings at 10:30 p.m. ET. Online sports book gives the defending Western Conference champs odds of -160 to prevail. Conversely, Los Angeles enters SAP Center as a +140 underdog.

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Joe Thornton & Co. went just 18-20-3 at the Shark Tank a year ago. Nonetheless, the team still managed to cut a swath through the Pacific Division. San Jose then dismissed the Kings, Predators and Blues in the playoffs before ceding the silver chalice to the Penguins.

GM Doug Wilson recently added several pieces in anticipation of another long spring run. Forward Mikkel Boedker and defenseman David Schlemko each signed lucrative contracts on the first day of free agency. They’ll join a core of Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Brent Burns.

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Los Angeles performed very little tinkering of its own following that first-round flameout. Perennial 75-point scorer Anze Kopitar figures to center Dustin Brown and Devin Setoguchi on the first line, while Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli provide quality depth behind said trio. One of coach Darryl Sutter’s toughest October assignments: devising a Marian Gaborik-less game plan. The veteran sniper suffered a broken foot during the World Cup of Hockey tournament.

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As always, though, the Kings’ hopes rest on Jonathan Quick. If the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner does his usual bang-up work in net, everything will be fine. We certainly expect as much this evening, as Quick boasts a 14-9-5 record in 29 career meetings with the Sharks.


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