Kings first look vs. San Jose in the playoffs

Kings first look vs. San Jose in the playoffs

Sharks center Micheal Haley (38) grabs Kings forward Kyle Clifford (13) during the first period of a March 28 game.

(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

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


Center Anze Kopitar led the Kings in scoring for the ninth consecutive season. Center Jeff Carter, slowed by a nagging injury in the second half, still finished with 24 goals and matched a career high with 38 assists. Newcomer Milan Lucic tied a career high in assists 35. Winger Tyler Toffoli had a breakout season, finishing with 31 goals.

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.


Jonathan Quick of the Kings won 40 games, a career high, and set the record for the most career shutouts by an American-born goaltender. The real question mark will be how Sharks goalie and former King Martin Jones performs in the playoffs considering he has all of 56 minutes of postseason experience.

“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.”

Special teams

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.

Home ice

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.