Arizona Coyotes goalie Mike Smith, right, stops a shot next to Tomas Hertl (48) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 9, 2016, in San Jose, Calif. San Jose won 1-0. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

Arizona Coyotes goalie Mike Smith, right, stops a shot next to Tomas Hertl (48) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 9, 2016, in San Jose, Calif. San Jose won 1-0. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

Sharks aim to shed identity of playoff collapsers

SAN JOSE — After a one-year hiatus, the San Jose Sharks are back in the postseason against the team that knocked them out on their past two trips to the playoffs.

The Sharks aren’t looking to use a third shot at the Los Angeles Kings as extra motivation heading into their first-round series.

“I really don’t think you think about that to be honest with you,” center Joe Thornton said. “It’s two years ago. A lot of things have happened in two years. This is 2016 Sharks versus Kings. That’s how I look at it personally.”

While outsiders are focusing on those two seven-game series that went Los Angeles’ way, the Sharks are doing their best to forget them. They lost a tightly contested second-round series in 2013 that featured the home team winning every game.

The following year’s loss was much more painful as the Sharks became just the fourth NHL team to lose a best-of-seven series after winning the first three games. The cloud from that defeat lingered throughout last season as San Jose missed the playoffs for the first time since 2003 and parted ways with coach Todd McLellan.

“That was really a long time ago,” said defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who got hurt in Game 5 in 2014. “I don’t remember much. This is a new season. We have 10 new players, new coaches. They have new players as well. It’s a new start, a new season and we’re writing our own season right now.”

The teams will be meeting in the playoffs for the fourth time in the past six seasons, with the Sharks winning in the first round in 2011 and the Kings taking the last two meetings.

“I think every game we play them is intense,” Thornton said. “It’s no secret both teams don’t like each other. Every game we play against the Kings both buildings are electric, both buildings are tough to play in. They’re just fantastic games to be a part of.”

Thornton is one of 10 players left on San Jose who played in that series two years ago. The team made plenty of changes this past offseason, acquiring Martin Jones as the new starting goalie, defenseman Paul Martin and forwards Joel Ward and Joonas Donskoi.

In-season additions of Dainius Zubrus, Nick Spaling, Roman Polak and James Reimer have only added more depth as the Sharks now have four capable lines to match up with Los Angeles’ deep roster and three pairs of defensemen that DeBoer trusts.

The newcomers also provide a new feeling in the dressing room for a franchise that has had plenty of regular season success but is still seeking its first trip to the Stanley Cup finals.

“You don’t really worry about what’s happened in the past,” Pavelski said. “There’s a lot of new faces in here. I think we’ve got 10 or so guys that are different from that team, and you’d be cheating them if you let it bother you. So you only take what’s going to help you in this situation and you apply it to your game now. We have a different identity in a lot of ways.”

Now they hope that new identity leads to different results.Joe ThorntonNHLNHL playoffsSan Jose Sharks

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

Construction in the Better Market Street Project between Fifth and Eighth streets is expected to break ground in mid-2021.<ins></ins>
SFMTA board to vote on Better Market Street changes

Agency seeks to make up for slimmed-down plan with traffic safety improvements

A view of Science Hall at the City College of San Francisco Ocean campus on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
CCSF begins search for next chancellor amid new challenges

‘It’s arguably the biggest single responsibility the board has,’ trustee says

Some people are concerned that University of California, San Francisco’s expansion at its Parnassus campus could cause an undesirable increase in the number of riders on Muni’s N-Judah line.<ins></ins>
Will UCSF’s $20 million pledge to SFMTA offset traffic woes?

An even more crowded N-Judah plus increased congestion ahead cause concern

From left, Natasha Dennerstein, Gar McVey-Russell, Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Jan Steckel and Miah Jeffra appear in Perfectly Queer’s fifth anniversary reading on Jan. 20.<ins> (Courtesy photo)</ins>
Perfectly Queer reading series celebrates fifth anniversary

Online event features five writers, games, prizes

(Robert Greene/Tribune News Service)
As tensions grow over vaccinations and politics, California lawmakers face threats from public

Anti-vaccine speakers hint at gun violence during routine budget hearing at state Capitol

Most Read