SAN JOSE -- Forward Marty Havlat's playoff experience from last season amounted to two games and 11 total shifts. Defenseman Jason Demers played one game and lasted all of nine shifts.

Maybe that's why both players -- now healthy -- are so excited to get this year's postseason underway, as the Sharks open the playoffs Thursday at home against the Los Angeles Kings.

Demers is expected log a lot of minutes in the series as he'll be paired with Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Havlat skated with the second line in Wednesday's practice but his role for what is expected to be a bruising opening round is unclear.

Havlat's uneven regular season reached a high point on April 11 as he had three goals and an assist in the Sharks 5-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche. He finished with 22 points in 48 games.

"That's why we play hockey, right, is to get into the playoffs. It's a chance to go for the Cup, the best part of the year and I enjoy every second of it," Havlat said, adding that watching most of last year's postseason, "was the worst feeling you can have. But, that was last year."

Havlat suffered a groin injury in the first game of the playoffs last season thanks to the stick of Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa. Havlat tried to return in the second round against Los Angeles, but lasted just six shifts and did not play again.

When healthy, Havlat has proved he can be a reliable playoff performer with 52 points in 74 games played. He had three points in the Sharks' five-game opening round loss to St. Louis in 2012.


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"Every little thing is important and matters," Havlat said of the playoffs. "You need good plays around the blue lines, whether it's a good pass, blocking a shot or a hit. ... It's great to be in it and have a chance."

Demers' 2013 season started off on a frustrating note and never got on track. He suffered a broken wrist playing for Team Canada at the Spengler Cup in Switzerland and missed the first month of the lockout-shortened regular season. He also suffered a concussion midway through the year and a foot injury, limiting him to 22 games in which he had just three points.

He also played in just three games in the 2012 playoffs.

But Demers has responded this season by playing some of the best hockey of his career. He played 75 games, was a plus-14 and was second among Sharks defensemen in scoring with 34 points.

"I'm going to have a lot of adrenaline, for sure," Demers said. "I'm going to have to control my emotions a little bit because it's going to be fun to be out there."

For more on the Sharks, see David Pollak's Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks.