Programming note: Coverage of Game 1 between the Sharks and Kings begins tonight night at 7:00 on CSN California with Sharks Pregame Live.
SAN JOSE -- For the first time since his kneeing penalty derailed Tomas Hertl’s season on Dec. 19, Kings captain Dustin Brown will be on the same ice surface as the Sharks’ impressive rookie on Thursday night at SAP Center.
Brown, who has played the Sharks twice since that controversial hit, doesn’t expect that incident to be on the forefront of anyone’s mind as the playoffs get underway, though.
“I don't really think so. It's not on my mind or anybody's,” Brown said on Thursday morning. “We're focused on winning games. It's playoff time. We've played since then. So, it's not like it's one of those next-game-after, those type of situations.
“I would imagine with the leadership they have in their room and the veteran team that they have over there, they're concerned about winning the game."
On Jan. 27, Brown twice declined to fight Tommy Wingels, according to the Sharks winger.
For his part, Hertl has already said that playing the Kings in the playoffs is personal for him, at one point uttering: "I not much like LA this season."
Todd McLellan doesn’t want any thoughts of payback to take away from his team’s focus of defeating its biggest rival, though.
“I don’t think that’s part of the motivation. Retribution at this time of the year gets in the way of the ultimate goal, which is the Stanley Cup,” McLellan said on Wednesday. “That’s not a part of our game plan. We haven’t gone up on the board and said do this or do that. Doesn’t work that way.
“We play them seven times, and potentially a lot of overtime. We have to play better than that team does to win. It’s as simple as that.”
One facet of the game that’s well within the limits of fair play, of course, is hitting. In the Sharks’ 2-1 win over the Kings on April 3, the club was credited with a team-record 52 hits.
Don’t expect the Sharks to let up on Brown, or anyone else, when the puck drops Thursday night.
"I think every time we play them it's a physical game,” said Wingels, who led the Sharks with 218 hits in the regular season, including 10 that night against Los Angeles.
“I wouldn't read too much into the franchise record of hits or looking for us to break that, but we want to play a physical style against them. We think our game is suited for a physical game.”