Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018: San Jose Sharks loaded up for one last ride

Photo by Scott Dinn/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Scott Dinn/NHLI via Getty Images /

The San Jose Sharks Stanley Cup window is closing, as the Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 could be this core’s last chance at immortality

In 2016, the San Jose Sharks entered the Stanley Cup Playoffs after missing out the year before. The storyline was a familiar one. The Sharks are great on paper but they’ll somehow screw it up in the first two rounds. Yet, a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals changed all of that.

Now, many are wondering if the Sharks can pull off the same sort of run in a Pacific Division loaded with talent. There’s no clear-cut favorite, which is why San Jose can get back to the Finals this season.

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The Sharks are locked in a first-round California battle with the Anaheim Ducks. These two teams are familiar with each other having met four times this season with the Sharks going 3-0-1. San Jose can’t overlook any part of their California rival even though John Gibson might not start Game 1. The Ducks are also lacking vets on the back-end as Cam Fowler and Kevin Bieksa are currently on the IR.

This is also San Jose’s first playoffs without forward Patrick Marleau. Many are wondering how the team will respond without the veteran in the locker room. He’s not the only long-tenured player absent from the first round roster.

Joe Thornton has not been ruled out for the season after a gruesome knee injury. Yet, the 38-year old has missed 35 straight games and is questionable to return should San Jose make a deep run.

It’s the younger folk that’ll have to carry the club. Tomas Hertl, Kevin Labanc, Chris Tierney and Timo Meier all set career highs. They’ll have some help, as veterans like Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture put together sound campaigns.

The acquisition of Evander Kane has gone swimmingly for the Sharks as well. He has 14 points in 17 games for the Sharks and has gelled with the club. This will be Kane’s first postseason appearance. 

On the back end, the ‘Dilly-Dilly’ pairing of Brenden Dillon and Dylan DeMelo have become fan favorites. Also, the top-four of Paul Martin and Brent Burns, as well as Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun, can shut down most teams’ top-six forwards.

Martin Jones has rounded into form after many were wondering if Aaron Dell stole his crease. He’ll need to have a similar playoff campaign like he did two years ago when the team went to the Cup Final.

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All in all, San Jose has the benefit of a wide-open Western Conference bracket. If they can get out of the first round, don’t be surprised if this team gains momentum to a second Stanley Cup Finals appearance in three years.

For more Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 coverage, check out our hub page!