SAN JOSE -- Rested and ready, the Sharks reviewed video of the Los Angeles Kings on Monday, put in a 45-minute practice and boarded a plane for Southern California eager to begin their Western Conference semifinal series with the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Having not played a game since last Tuesday, when they beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 in overtime to wrap up a four-game sweep, the Sharks feel they are good to go for Game 1 on Tuesday night at Staples Center.
"Everybody's rested, everyone's healthy," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "We had a couple of good work days. Now we're just excited to finally be playing. They're a tough team. They're going to play us hard, and we have to play them hard, too."
The Sharks will face a Kings team that is once again hitting its stride in the postseason. Goalie Jonathan Quick had a 1.58 goals against average and a .944 save percentage in the Kings' first-round win over the St. Louis Blues. Los Angeles' penalty kill also has been exceptional, as it was short-handed 17 times against the Blues but allowed just two power-play goals.
Those were two major reasons the Kings won the Stanley Cup last season. Quick wound up winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs, and the Kings gave up just six power-play goals in 76 attempts.
"The hottest team wins the Stanley Cup. That's the way it is every single year," Sharks center Logan Couture said. "They played unbelievable hockey last year and really tore through every other team.
"They've won four in a row. Right now we've won four in a row. We're going against a good team with a great goalie."
"It's going to be a long, grueling series," Thornton said. "Burnzie's a big body, I'm sure he's going to finish his checks and wear down their defense. Having a big body up front is huge for us."
"You don't want to change a winning lineup, especially in the playoffs," Demers said. "Guys are rolling, so I just want to support the guys and be ready to go."