From The Mercury News’s David Pollak
Michal Handzus swapped his Los Angeles Kings jersey for one with a shark on the crest during the off season, so he’s a pretty good person to ask if his old team sees its mission as knocking his new one off its perch at the top of the Pacific Division.
“I think so,” said Handzus, who played with the Kings for four seasons. “They were always talking about it. Obviously when there’s a team that wins that many divisions in a row, you always look up to them and you always want to challenge them all the time.”
The teams meet Monday night for the first time this season, and Handzus doesn’t think anything has changed even if both teams made some significant personnel moves over the summer.
“I’m sure they want to challenge us, that’s for sure,” Handzus said.
The rivalry, of course, extended beyond the regular season for the first time last spring, when the Sharks took six games to eliminate Los Angeles in the first round of the playoffs.
Most memorably – maybe to the Kings in particular – is the fact the Sharks trailed 4-0 in Game 3 before mounting a monster of a Stanley Cup comeback to win 6-5 in overtime on a goal by Devin Setoguchi.
“I thought it turned the series around,” Handzus said. “The first two games, we split. If we could have won that third game, it would have been a different series. Obviously it was a big loss.”
But that was the past. San Jose’s added since then include Handzus, Marty Havlat and Brent Burns. The Kings have picked up Mike Richards, Simon Gagne and Ethan Moreau (to fill the same role Handzus now has with the Sharks), among others.
Still, Handzus expects the Kings to stick with the style of play they’ve had success with in the past.
“They don’t want to make too many turnovers in the neutral zone so they play that grind game, they chip it in and work along the walls,” Handzus said. “They feel they’re very strong at that game. Defensively, they have very good sticks and they’re good at taking away time and space.”
Some good discussion points in there.