San Jose will need a full team effort to defeat the Kings, but these three X-factors will be vital for the Sharks.
For the Sharks to emerge victorious in this series, they will need their star players to come up big and their depth players to fulfill their roles as team teal will need all four lines and six defensemen to defeat the Kings.
However, there are three players for San Jose who will be X-factors in this series and I’ll be keeping an eye on them to see how they perform. With that in mind, here are three X-factors for the Sharks as they prepare for Los Angeles:
Vlasic missed the final 12 games of the regular season after suffering a lower-body injury on March 17th against the Arizona Coyotes.
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He has hinted that he should be all set and ready to go for Game One, but it will be interesting to see how Vlasic holds up against a physical Kings forecheck. There’s no doubt that L.A. will target Vlasic and ensure they take the body at every opportunity they get.
Vlasic had a career year with 39 points and averaged more than 23-and-a-half minutes against the Kings this season. Two years ago, the series turned when Vlasic was knocked out of Game Five and I’m sure he’s anxious to check back into the lineup.
The 36-year-old Marleau struggled for much of the season, but he will play a pivotal role in this series as he will anchor the third line for the Sharks.
Marleau began to heat up again as he recorded four goals and two assists over the last six games. He’s been known to raise his game in the playoffs with 60 goals and 43 assists in 147 career games, including three goals and four assists against the Kings in 2014.
The Sharks will need Marleau to be engaged and provide the scoring depth necessary to take down L.A.
Ward is one of the new faces Doug Wilson brought in to provide a veteran presence and add to the depth of the forward ranks.
He isn’t afraid to mix it up in the corners and get in on the forecheck, something San Jose will need to establish to help offset the possession game of the Kings.
Ward was solid for the Capitals in last year’s playoffs with three goals and six assists, and he had the second-best season of his career with 43 points (21 goals, 22 assists) in teal.
The Sharks would welcome another performance like Ward gave last postseason, and if he can do so, San Jose should be in a good position to advance past the Kings.