NHL Playoff Predictions 2011: 7 Things the Sharks vs. Kings Series Will Hinge on

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NHL Playoff Predictions 2011: 7 Things the Sharks vs. Kings Series Will Hinge on
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The NHL Western Conference playoffs are California dreaming, as three teams from the Golden State qualify for the postseason for the first time ever.  In another first, the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings will add a playoff chapter to their rivalry come Thursday, in the quarterfinals opener.

The hockey stars have all aligned perfectly for the state of California, sending more teams to the playoffs than all of Canada.

In the San Jose Sharks’ 14th playoff appearance in their relatively young history, they look to bury demons of past failures and build on last year’s Western Finals appearance.

The Sharks are listed as slight favorites in this series, even further proof that San Jose is under the radar more than ever. Even after capturing another title in hockey’s toughest division and being lights out since January 15th, nobody is picking the Sharks to do anything but hit the golf links early.

With the Kings awaiting, here are the top seven points that the opening quarterfinal series against LA will hinge on.

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