Keys to the Kings-Sharks playoff series

Keys to the best-of-seven series between the Kings and the San Jose Sharks:

1. CAPTAIN OF CONTROVERSY: Kings captain Dustin Brown's ability to stay on course will be tested in the heated confines of SAP Center. "I'm prepared for the battle that it'll be — regardless of the history," he said, referring to his knee-on-knee hit on Tomas Hertl in December that sidelined the dynamic rookie until last week. "Generally, if they [the fans] hate you, it's because you're doing certain things that are expected of you."

2. DEFENSE FIRST: How will Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, who was injured at San Jose on April 3, respond after missing the final four games of the regular season? Should Doughty be at his less-than-stellar self, it could be an even tougher haul for the Kings.

3. PSYCHE 101: This could be the last, best chance for the veteran core of the Sharks. Will that knowledge finally work in their favor or weigh them down like it has so many times in the past in the playoffs?

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