With both teams boasting such great defenses and the goaltending playing a signigicant role as well, the offense doesn't seem as important on the surface. But make no mistake. Both the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks are fully-loaded up front and you can bet that neither team's forward unit will go silently in this series.
This past season, the Kings had eight players combine for 12 goals against the Sharks with Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar leading the way with a pair each. The Sharks, meanwhile, had goals from five different players combining for eight. Joe Pavelski led the way with three.
While the Sharks are receiving a boost of confidence up front with the return of Tomas Hertl, fans shouldn't expect too much of him. After all, the 20-year-old is coming off major knee surgery. Still, Hertl was sidelined because of a knee-on-knee collision with Los Angeles's Dustin Brown earlier in the season and, believe me, fans in San Jose still harbour plenty of hard feelings towards towards the Kings captain. If Hertl proves to be unproductive in this series, his mere presence should still encourage some drama nonetheless.
Aside from Pavelski, the likes of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture and Brent Burns bring plenty to the table. Thornton is still a great set-up man while Marleau maintains his status as one of the fastest players in the game. Despite missing a month with a hand injury, Couture plays like he missed any time while Brent Burns, despite playing the bulk of his career as a defenseman, has emerged into a solid power fforward and can provide plenty of damage against the Kings. Also, while he is a streaky player, Martin Havlat can also provide some offense, although which Havlat will show up this series remains to be seen.
As for the Kings, they finished 26th-overall in total offense this season. While that stat is far from promising, they did receive a jolt up front with the late-season acquisition of Marian Gaborik. In fact, his pairing with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams has managed to turn to the trio into a very formidable line. That paired with Williams's ability to step up his game in clutch situations - in addition to his great puck-possession skills - should leave the Sharks thinking of how to stop the three from scoring.
With his 29 goals this season, Anze Kopitar is coming his seventh-straight season where he led the Kings in the scoring while Jeff Carter can supply some damage of his own with his fierce wrist shot. Unfortunately, Carter hasn't scored much as of late but hopefully that changes soon.
Dwight King is coming off a career-high in goals this season while Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson have each played better after being given larger roles.
While Dustin Brown and Mike Richards are each coming off disappointing campaigns, many are confident that both can regain their touch at a time of year when each has proven that they can pick their respective games up a few notches.
They may not provide this series with any sort of climax but the forward units for both the Kings and Sharks should be more than enough to balance this already exciting-looking series.