The Sharks find themselves in one of the lower seeds of the Western Conference for the first time in several years. They'll be taking on the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
There's no doubt this will be a tough matchup for the Sharks. The Blues completely dominated them in the regular season, winning all four games and outscoring the Sharks 11-3. The Sharks were shutout twice.
But the Sharks still have a decent chance to get past the Blues in the postseason.
It's no secret that the Blues are better in the defensive aspects of the game. They allowed the fewest goals in the league by far. They also have the better goaltenders. Many Sharks fans are not confident in Antti Niemi. The Blues have two of the best goaltenders in the league in Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliot.
So can the Sharks win the series? Of course they can. But it won't be easy.
The Blues' weakness is that their offense is sub-par, barely eclipsing the 200-goal mark. The Blues' best scorers this year were forwards David Backes and TJ Oshie and defender Alex Pietrangelo.
The Sharks can counter that easily with the offensive firepower of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Martin Havlat.
Will the Sharks defeat the Blues?
The Sharks are coming off a season where, for the first time in franchise history, they had three 30-goal scorers in Marleau, Couture and Pavelski.
Havlat was plagued by injury this season, but looked real impressive coming down the stretch. He's known to be a clutch, big-game player. That will help the Sharks a lot.
Joe Thornton will be a huge X-Factor for San Jose. He had close to 60 assists this season for the Sharks, and he'll need to keep dishing the puck well.
And it's no secret that the playoffs are the Big Pavelski's time of the year. Pavelski is sure to turn it up a notch.
The fact is, upsets happen every year, so why not the Sharks? The Sharks have infinitely more playoff experience than the Blues. They know how to play in the postseason and have found decent success.
Many of the Blues players have never even been to the postseason, for what that's worth.
The Sharks can win this series. We fans just need to believe. Let's go Sharks!