The Sharks are a highly recognizable postseason opponent, and adding fuel to the rivalry is the fact that the Kings produced a comeback for the ages against San Jose in their last playoff meeting, in 2014.
The Kings trailed, 3-0, in the first round and became the fourth NHL team to rally from that deficit, going on to win their second Stanley Cup.
San Jose won three of five games against the Kings this season, including 5-2 on March 28 at San Jose.
Kings offense vs. Sharks defense
San Jose is fueled by Brent Burns on the back end. Burns had 27 goals, 11 on the power play. The series could be defined by how effective defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic is and by how much he plays. Vlasic, who averages 23-plus minutes on the ice, has been out because of a sprained knee.
Kings defense vs. Sharks offense
There are likely more questions about the Kings defense than the Sharks firepower. San Jose’s No. 1 line has been Tomas Hertl-Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski, and they combined for 78 goals.
The Kings’ shortcomings on defense have appeared even more glaring with Alec Martinez out of the lineup. But Martinez, who sat out the final four games of the regular season because of an unspecified injury, will likely be back for the playoffs.
“I don’t think it’s a big deal,” Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi. “If they had a team full of guys that didn’t have any experience, maybe I would think differently. That’s not the case. They have a ton of experience.”
Both teams are among the top 10 in the league on the power play. The Sharks, boosted by the likes of Thornton, Pavelski and Patrick Marleau, were ranked third and the Kings were eighth. On the penalty kill, the Kings were 15th and the Sharks 20th.
The Kings tied a franchise record with 26 victories at home. The Sharks had 28 victories on the road and 18 at home. Still, the SAP Center, known as the Shark Tank, remains a difficult venue for any opponent.