Programming note: Sharks-Kings coverage starts tonight at 7:30pm on NBCSN.
WHERE THEY STAND
Sharks: 0-0-0, 0 points
Kings: 0-0-0, 0 points
NEWS AND NOTES
Starting with a rival
The Sharks will open the regular season against the Kings for the third straight year. They’ve beaten them in the previous two, 5-1 last season and 4-0 in 2014-15, but both of those games were in Los Angeles.
Is it good to kick off the campaign against your biggest rival?
“I think that’s the easiest way to get everyone back involved,” Tommy Wingels said. “I think the players like playing in this series. I think the fans like it. I think the league likes it. For numerous reasons, it’s easy to jump right in.”
Pete DeBoer said: “I don’t know that you’d ever wish to play the L.A. Kings. It definitely brings out the best in us. … The guys know that they’re going to have to come out and play a heavy, hard game in order to have a chance. I think it’s appropriate you start the season with a team like that.”
The Sharks knocked off the Kings in the first round of the playoffs last April in five games.
Will quick starts continue?
The Sharks have won at least their first three games in each of the past four seasons, the first time any NHL team has ever achieved that feat. The core group has been together for several years now, so perhaps that’s been a key to their early success.
“I think guys just show up ready to play,” captain Joe Pavelski said. “It’s being excited for a new year. Hopefully that trend will continue.”
DeBoer was only here last season, of course, and the Sharks struggled to find their consistency for the two months following what was a perfect 4-0 start. The coach likes the look of his team headed into the opener.
“I expect we’re going to get off to a good start. I think the guys’ heads are in the right place and I like the feel of practice,” DeBoer said.
“It takes a lot of pressure off your team right away. You’re not talking about chasing a playoff spot from the first day of the season if you can start winning early. Is it essential? No, but I expect we’re going to get off to a good start.”
Avoiding World Cup fatigue, and not looking too far ahead
Many of the big guns only played in one of the Sharks’ six preseason games. Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic all did, however, compete in the World Cup of Hockey.
Will they show some fatigue and rust out of the gate, or will the experience in Toronto only make them game-ready from the drop of the puck? That’s difficult to predict.
The Sharks will also unveil their Western Conference championship banner prior to the game, reminding them all of last season’s accomplishment. Pavelski said on Wednesday that the biggest challenge will be staying focused on the present rather than trying to win the Stanley Cup in October.
“As much excitement as was built up towards the end of the year, there’s a long way to go and a lot of steps along the way you have to [take],” he said.
KEEP AN EYE ON…
Sharks: Chris Tierney. The 22-year-old Tierney will get an opportunity to build off of his strong playoff last year by centering his own line in the middle of experienced wingers Patrick Marleau and Joel Ward. The Sharks took advantage of the Kings’ lack of forward depth in the playoffs last year, and Tierney’s line will try and keep that trend going in the first rematch of the rival clubs.
Kings: Devin Setoguchi. The former Sharks forward has caught on with the Kings after a pro tryout, and with Marian Gaborik hurt and Tanner Pearson suspended, Setoguchi will apparently skate on the top line with Anze Kopitar. The 29-year-old former eighth overall pick of San Jose is trying to resurrect his NHL career after spending time in rehab for substance abuse.
Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Mikkel Boedker – Logan Couture – Joonas Donskoi
Patrick Marleau – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Matt Nieto – Tommy Wingels – Melker Karlsson
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko
Devin Setoguchi – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown
Teddy Purcell – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Dwight King – Nic Dowd – Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford – Andy Andreoff – Jordan Nolan
Jake Muzzin – Drew Doughty
Brayden McNabb – Alec Martinez
Derek Forbort – Matt Greene
Sharks: Timo Meier (mono) is out.
Kings: Nick Shore (undisclosed) is questionable. Marian Gaborik (broken right foot) is out. Tanner Pearson is suspended.
“Same identity. We made it to the Stanley Cup Final. I don’t think speed was as much of an issue as everybody says it was in the Final, [the Penguins] just played really well defensively. We added some good players and we should have a better team than we did last year.” – Marc-Edouard Vlasic