The San Jose Sharks are getting a rematch of the 2011 Western Conference finals. This time they are not coming in more banged up, less rested or just short on talent compared to the Vancouver Canucks.
Still, getting revenge will not be easy. The only team they beat as a lower seed since the lockout-lost season is the Nashville Predators. They were the fourth seed taking on the fifth both times.
Making the challenge more pronounced, the Sharks relied more on home ice for success in the 2013 NHL season than any in the past. Meanwhile, they were 8-14-2 on the road when only one other team (the Los Angeles Kings) in the Stanley Cup playoffs was more than two games below .500.
Then again, one of their road wins came in Vancouver. They will need at least one to see the second round.
Getting wins in both places obviously takes good play from multiple lines, pairs and in net. No list of five Sharks needing to play well would be enough to overcome a solid team at this time of the year.
For instance, Martin Havlat (31 points in 31 career games) and Patrick Marleau (consistently among the top three San Jose playoff scorers) would greatly help their team if they showed up. But neither has had to play well to get a win.
After scoring nine goals in his first five games, Marleau had eight in the next 43 while the Sharks went 20-16-7. Havlat is earning just over a point per three games all season. They were 2-4-2 in the eight games he missed, but that includes only two teams that did not make the playoffs and only two home games.
The team can win without those guys. The following five players must all play well and get the support of a few of any of their teammates for the Sharks to advance.