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Playoff Pick 'em: Battle of California, 2011 Edition

I really like watching the Kings play when they're on. But they haven't been on lately and they're not healthy. Anze Kopitar's loss was one of those Mark Streit-level injuries: You can spend all night trying to reason your way out of how devastating it is, but in the end you don't believe what many beers and logical somersaults got you to say. Meanwhile, after a rocky start, the Sharks have been trending upward for the majority of the season. It's probably some kind of post-Nabokov karma boost.

Sj-slim_medium La-slim_medium
2-Sharks (48-25-9) vs. 7-Kings (46-30-6)
History: First playoff meeting
Season Series: 3 SJ Reg. W, 1 LAK Reg. W, 2 LAK SOW
SBN California: Jewels from the Crown | Fear the Fin | Battle of California

Make your picks in the poll, explain 'em in comments. If you're here at night for chattin', go to the playoff watch thread.

TV Schedule

Thursday, April 14 at San Jose, 10:00 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
Saturday, April 16 at San Jose, 10:00 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
Tuesday, April 19 at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
Thursday, April 21 at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m. TSN
*Saturday, April 23 at San Jose, 10:30 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
*Monday, April 25 at Los Angeles, TBD TSN
*Wednesday, April 27 at San Jose, TBD TSN

Parting Shot

People who moan about Bettman westward expansion (which, in fact, long pre-dates Bettman, as the NHL added two California teams back in 1967 for the same reasons) forget about the joy and glory that is West Coast playoff hockey. There are more players coming from California every year, which is cool, but not my main priority: The real bonus here is in the right years we have a first round where playoff games run from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. EDT every night. As a hockey fan, I say there's nothing better.

Pick 'Em

Heart Says: I'd love for this to be a long Battle of Cali series -- in fact I'd love for the Kings to win in seven, on San Jose ice...

Heart Says: ...but I doubt that. I don't really expect any sweeps, but I feel like I shouldn't cop out and pick none. So I'll say this one is...oh, it's still a cop out: Sharks in five. There's just too much here that feels like a perfect storm for the Kings, one that will probably lead to "deep, probing" questions about coach Terry Murray.

Other series polls at LHH: Penguins-Lightning series | Red Wings-Coyotes series | Capitals-Rangers series | Canucks-Hawks series | Bruins - Hockey Team from Montreal series | We'll post the final polls Friday...