Playoff Poll: Los Angeles Kings (5) vs. San Jose Sharks (6)

"Downward dog, pushup if you want to..." - USA TODAY Sports

As the first round closes, we look west for round two.

There are two Games 7 in the Eastern Conference tonight in the NHL, but as quickly as those commence the second round will begin.

The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals, and the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, have the lockout misfortune of playing Games 6 and 7 of their series on back-to-back nights. That will smart when it comes time for the survivors to play round two.

Meanwhile, two of the more rested teams are part of the opening of round two on Tuesday night: The defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings with the perennially short-of-expectations San Jose Sharks.

Now that everyone has finally stopped betting on the Sharks to get over the hump, will this be their year? Can they win this Battle of California and ride to glory while Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are still very good players?

Or will the Kings, impressive if low scoring in the first round, continue their push to repeat as champions, Cup hangover be damned?

Fun factoid from nhl.com:

Six of the past 10 meetings between the teams have been one-goal games, with four going to overtime.

Funny statement from nhl.com:

At 29-19 in the playoffs, and with wins in seven of the nine series he's played, Niemi arguably is the best postseason goaltender in the NHL.

Still, Antti Niemi's even strength save percentage during the 2013 regular season: .930. Jonathan Quick's: .910.

This should be a fun series, but it should ultimately go the Kings way unless Niemi sharply outplays Quick. Regardless, maybe it's just the late-night beverages talking, but these Battles of California always are good times. With the Ducks ousted last night, to the winner of this series goes the BOC crown.

For great coverage, Jewels from the Crown (bonus Moulson and Nabokov in the video there) and Fear the Fin (I'll let you guess which team covers which) are two of the finer, smarter sites on the SB Nation network.

As always, vote your pick in the poll and break down the series as deeply or as frivolously as you please in comments.

(Oh, and have fun with tonight's games.)

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