Hockey fans owe the NHL schedule-makers a beer or 10 for having the foresight to end the regular season with a home-and-home between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings. They're going to determine everything from the Pacific Division title to the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference Playoffs.
They could also determine whether the Sharks or the Kings make or miss that playoff cut. As we noted in this morning's Death Watch, it's going to take several dominoes falling, but there is a chance that, with a sweep, either Los Angeles or San Jose would be pushed out of the top eight.
Which is exactly what Kings defenseman Drew Doughty would like to see, actually, when it comes to his rivals in teal. From CSN Bay Area, Doughty didn't mince words:
The Kings would love try and prematurely end San Jose's season, as unlikely as that is now after the Sharks won two straight over the Stars. The Pacific Division title is still up for grabs, too, so the Kings should be motivated regardless of what the Stars do against the Predators.
Doughty said: "We definitely want to do whatever we can to knock them out of the playoff picture. We want third place, and that's what we're going to play for. These two games mean a lot, not only for third place but just being able to push a team like that out of the playoffs is a big momentum boost for us."
Of course, there might be another reason why the Doughty and the Kings would like to eliminate the Sharks before the playoffs. Something about Joe Thornton sliding on his back celebrating one of the only moments of playoff heroism in his career ...