The San Jose Sharks must wait until early Monday morning to find out who they will play in the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and while either potential matchup would be a tough one they did fare better against one of the two teams during the regular season. The Sharks will see their opponent decided by the outcome of tonight’s game seven between the Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings, although they won’t end up playing either one of those teams.
If the Ducks win tonight, the Sharks would take on the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks in the next round. They were 0-3 against the Blackhawks in the regular season, with Antti Niemi in net for all three contests. The Sharks managed only five goals in those three games, while allowing 11. The Sharks were 0-for-11 on the power play in their three games against the Blackhawks, so that would be a very big area to focus on if such a matchup happens.
If the Red Wings win game seven, the Sharks would face their Pacific Division rival Los Angeles Kings. They were 2-2 against the Kings this season, with three of those games being decided by one goal. If the Kings’ first round series against the St. Louis Blues is any indication, that trend could very well continue. Niemi’s 3.31 goals-against average against the Kings this season was among his three worst, with the others being the Blackhawks (3.36) and the Columbus Blue Jackets (4.57).
The Kings and Blackhawks are both hot at the moment, and have played more recently than the Sharks. Regardless of who the Sharks face next, they will need to start strong and prove they can fare better than they did the last time they had a long layoff between two series.